March 11, 2021
For many years now we’ve been focused on our divisions. It’s been true in politics, in the media, in universities, in our families and communities. Today, the passage of the American Recovery Act offers us the opportunity to focus on what we have in common as human beings and as social workers. If we ignore the politics for a minute, (who’s red, who’s blue, who’s Democratic, who’s Republican), and look at the substance of the plan, we can all get behind so many of the provisions in this legislation. And we would not be the only ones, the most recent Pew Poll shows 70% of Americans support the bill.
Expansion of health care benefits- check. Financial support to provide a safety net for poor families with children- check. Protection for housing- check. The expansion of food programs- check. Aid for vaccine distribution- check. Unemployment support for people out of work because of the pandemic- check. There is something for every social worker and their clients whether you are working in child welfare, schools, health care, aging, disabilities, or homeless services.
And the money will flow into red states as well as blue states, into rural and suburban communities, and into cities as well. The legislation will help people in need regardless of their differences and divisions.
Moreover, according to the Center on Poverty and Social Policy (housed, by the way, at our sister institution, the Columbia University School of Social Work), Black and Latinx communities will benefit the most from this legislation. Since those communities suffer disproportionately from injustices in housing, health care, nutrition, and employment and are often ignored by government, this legislation recognizes the moral imperative to improve outcomes for them. We can do both things: we can help everyone in need and develop policies that specifically mitigate the injustices experienced by Black and Latinx (and LBGTQ* too!) communities.
I cannot help to think that if we focus more on issues and solutions and less on our political differences, we can move beyond our divisions. Given the very difficult year we’ve had, almost exactly to the day, today we finally have something to agree on.
As always, I wish you health, safety and peace.
Jacqueline B. Mondros, D.S.W.
Dean and Assistant Vice President for Social Determinants of Health