Solidarity, not charity.
Mutual aid is community care and survival work done by and for impacted folks alongside social movements for systemic change. Coupled with political education and community organizing, this community care and survival work can look like mobilizing autonomous rapid response teams after a natural or man-made disaster to respond to the needs of community members often forgotten or ignored by the state, federal and capitalist disaster response systems. It can look like grassroots fundraising to cover rent for an LGBTQIA+ community member who was fired due to workplace discrimination. It can look like helping to establish a community garden in a neighborhood impacted by food apartheid and distributing produce to food-insecure households. It can look like establishing a community care network that does regular wellness checks on one another to help with day-to-day needs like picking up groceries or medicines for community members without access to transportation.
Whatever it looks like, mutual aid is rooted in solidarity, not charity, because we know that we keep us safe while we are organizing to build the new world.
MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid collective
Rapid Response & Recovery
When the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak began, we knew a rapid response initiative would be critical to helping impacted individuals survive and meet basic needs now, and in the wake of future natural and man-made crises, while not falling prey to disaster capitalism. By working with, listening to, and supporting impacted individuals and communities, especially our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, we support what they need to lead their own recovery and build long-term, sustainable and resilient communities.
Disaster survivors themselves are the first responders to crisis; the role of outside aid is to support survivors to support each other. As Mississippi became an epicenter for rising COVID-19 cases in 2020, we mobilized community members here on the Gulf Coast to provide masks, hygiene kits and COVID-19 education to our unhoused neighbors; cleaning supplies, masks, groceries, medical supplies and other necessities to Gulf Coast residents in isolation; sewing machines to an immigrant community in Central MS so they could make masks for their community; produce boxes to food-insecure Black, immigrant and low-income communities in Biloxi, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs; and we established the crowd-funded MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Fund to raise funds to provide rent, utility, medical and food aid to individuals and households unable to afford basic necessities due to loss of employment or reduced hours as a result of the virus. This fund remains intact today to assist folks here in Mississippi who face barriers to accessing support from the systems in place and is funded entirely by grassroots solidarity donations by individuals. To request mutual aid assistance, submit this intake form. Our ability to provide assistance is dependent on funds availability.
More recently, we mobilized in response to Hurricane Ida in 2021, and worked alongside other grassroots mutual aid groups to support our Central MS brothers and sisters in the wake of the Winter Ice Storm of 2020 and the Jackson Water Crisis of 2022.
Our mutual aid efforts are entirely dependent on grassroots solidarity. If you or your orgranization want to be part of the MS Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Network, join us here. To make a solidarity offering to our mutual aid fund, donate here.
hub city mutual aid
Food Security & Community Organizing
Mississippi has the highest rate of food insecurity in the nation, and when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, food insecurity among Black, Indigenous, Brown and low-income communities in Mississippi was further exacerbated. Here in South MS, Hattiesburg Ward 2 lost its only grocery store due to financial hardship, and area small Black farmers were systematically excluded from the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which was intended to deliver fresh produce and other food stuffs to food-insecure families during the pandemic. In response, MRC established the Hub City Mutual Aid Project, partnering with Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center in Ward 2's East Jerusalem neighborhood, a predominantly Black and low income neighborhood subject to food apartheid, to establish an organic community garden. Community members help maintain the garden, and all produce from East Jerusalem Community Healing Garden is distributed to East Jerusalem households.
In order to investigate, identify and address the root causes of the systemic inequities leading to food apartheid, crumbling infrastructure and lack of investment in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Hattiesburg Ward 2, we're also engaging in deep, long-term community organizing alongside residents to build people power and facilitate strategic engagement with state and local government.
Rainbow Mutual Aid Fund
Survival Needs Support & Community Organizing
Launched in 2022, the Rainbow Mutual Aid Fund supports members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the following South MS Counties: Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, Stone, George and Pearl River.
The fund provides direct cash assistance for survival needs such as housing emergencies, food insecurity, medical needs and utility expenses. We also provide referrals to other potential sources of support. The fund prioritizes support for the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQIA+ community in South MS- the trans community, low-income LGBTQIA+ people and LGBTQIA+ folks in rural areas.
South MS Rainbow Mutual Aid Fund was established with support from the LGBTQ Fund of MS and its sustainability is entirely dependent on solidarity offerings from the community at large.
If you are an LGBTQIA+ person seeking assistance from the fund, submit a mutual aid intake form here.