Social Services and Mutual Aid in Times of COVID-19 and Beyond: A Brief Critique
The Human Rights Brief www.hrbrief.org (American University Washington College of Law) 2022 Forthcoming
34 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2021
Date Written: 2021
May 19, 2021, marked a crucial point in the United States’ fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: sixty percent of U.S. adults had been vaccinated. Since then, Americans have witnessed the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but its long-term effects are here to stay. Ironically, some are unexpectedly welcome. Among the lasting positive changes is an augmented sense of individual involvement in community well-being. This multifaceted phenomenon has given rise to #BLM allyship and heightened interest in mutual aid networks. In the legal realm, it has manifested with law students, their educators, lawyers, and the American Bar Association (ABA) proposing new educational standards: law schools ought to build a curriculum centered on social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion rather than the traditional fixation of “thinking like a lawyer” law programs. Unfortunately, it has also put volunteerism at odds with government-provided welfare services. This articles addresses this paradox and calls for improved systemic services for a systemic problem, poverty.
Keywords: mutuality, mutualism, welfare, mutual aid, social justice, government services, social services, COVID-19, pandemic, poverty, human rights, economic vulnerability, standard of living, capitalism, democracy
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