By Cheyanne M. Daniels
The killing of George Floyd in May triggered a global response against police brutality, and activists across the country have organized protests and rallies in almost every major U.S. city. But the COVID-19 pandemic has added a challenge for activists trying to mobilize while keeping participants safe from infection.
In Illinois, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) has worked through these new challenges by requiring masks at all gatherings and encouraging participants to protest out of their cars.
Activist Samer Owaida’s leadership within CAARPR highlights the complexities of organizing a protest in a pandemic, particularly when many participants are from communities most susceptible to the coronavirus.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Latinx people are four times more likely than white people to contract the illness and Black people are approximately five times more likely than white people to contract COVID-19.
Owaida spoke to Medill Reports about the importance of speaking up even in a health crisis.
By Cheyanne M. Daniels
Driving down La Grange Road through Orland Park, the Black-owned restaurant Vegan T’ease is easy to miss. Inside the small space, there’s room only for an order window and a cramped waiting alcove. As one customer walked out, another soon took their place. The parking lot, fit for only six cars at a time, is filled.
Tee Scott, the owner and namesake of Vegan T’ease, stood at the head of the kitchen, holding a spatula and barking out orders from behind a black face mask, a new norm in the era of COVID-19. She took a short pause to greet a new customer and encouraged her to try the vegan Gyros sandwich or the Chicago style hotdog.
“The Black Lives Matter movement brought a surge (of customers),” said Scott. She added that the movement has mainly brought more Black customers to her restaurant.
Black-owned businesses are doing better than ever despite the COVID-19 pandemic because of intentional efforts to support them amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Even in a conservative town like Orland Park, whose residents are overwhelmingly white, Vegan T’ease has been reaping the benefits.