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As Things Go Back to ‘Normal,’ What Happens to Mutual Aid?

As Things Go Back to ‘Normal,’ What Happens to Mutual Aid?

Though the pandemic helped make them a household term, mutual aid organizations are an American institution, the earliest of which dates back to American slavery. In Ariel Aberg-Riger’s visual article ‘Solidarity, Not Charity’: A Visual History of Mutual Aid, they explain the mission of one of the first Black mutual aid societies, called The Free African Society. In 1896, Callie House created the Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, & Pension Association to give pensions to Black workers emancipated after the Civil War like herself. One shared characteristic between these support networks is that they pop up during periods of social upheaval, societal strife, and turmoil. But if history is a pattern, we ought to be worried about whether the good work done last year will continue into the future.

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