Letter from the Staff: ‘Tis the season for mutual aid
Usually, our Editor-in-Chief writes a monthly column to our readers, logically entitled Letter From The Editor. Instead, for this month’s column, the mic belongs to the staff as a whole. We’ve been having conversations around the office that we feel are important to share with you. Folks, it’s chit-chat time.
In every December issue, we create The Gift Guide. The Gift Guide is not a concept unique to The Pitch. The Gift Guide is a concept that is, for all intents and purposes, trademarked by corporate America. We cannot escape The Gift Guide. It finds us by email, by mail, by text message from that one store that required a phone number to complete your purchase five years ago. The Gift Guide sees us when we’re sleeping and knows when we’re awake.
But we at The Pitch like to think we’re not like other Gift Guides! For one, we have a sex and kink section, and you can’t even begin to imagine the dark Kansas City sex Internet that we stumbled upon while doing research. While we understand that our jobs are thankless in many ways, please understand that because of us you avoided seeing as many latex-gimp-gear-gone-wrong photos as we have. (And a few that were simply top-notch. Good on you, KC.)
We also do these things because it is the so-called season of giving. You will give your loved ones the gift of specially-selected presents. If you follow our never-ending plea to purchase local, you will also be giving the gift of income to our local makers, creators, and business owners—one of those win-win situations that are all too rare these days.
Still, there’s something crucial missing from our Gift Guide—missing from nearly every Gift Guide™ that you’re being inundated with—because it’s not a present or charity or a donation, but it is absolutely crucial for us to remember at this time of year: mutual aid.
While the practice of mutual aid is nearly as old as the homo sapien, it blipped on many people’s radars for the first time with the wave of protests in the summer of 2020.
As defined by lawyer Dean Spade in the book Mutual Aid, the practice can be understood as “collective coordination to meet each other’s needs, usually from an awareness that the systems we have in place are not going to meet them.”
A well-known slogan has arisen about the practice: “Solidarity, not charity.” Meaning: mutual aid is not some Reagan-style philosophy of trickle-down economics mixed with a healthy dash of saviorism. It is a practice aimed at strengthening a community as a whole. While this may take the form of redistributing wealth, that is not the limit of mutual aid. It’s a complex topic that has its roots not just only in radical organization, but in love and community.
Kansas City, as it is full of Homo sapiens, has multiple thriving mutual aid networks. If you have some extra change clinking in your pocket this season, here are some starting places to begin engaging in mutual aid:
- The Merry Outlaw is a meals program that works to create “inclusive and joyful food experiences in our community” through microgrants, public meals, and more. They also run a general-purpose Kansas City Mutual Aid app.
- Midwest Homeless Collective is working to tackle one of our greatest social issues that our city leaders seem incapable of solving.
- Look into what native land you’re inhabiting and pay rent, or contribute food and other services, locally through the KC Indian Center.
- Black Rainbow is a local civil rights group that shares calls for mutual aid and resources distribution on their Instagram account.
- ReDiscover has provided services for individuals affected by mental illness, substance use disorder, and traumatic life experiences.
- KC Mutual Aid is a page that exists on Instagram. The name says it all.
But, remember, we said mutual aid isn’t just about money. If you’re more able to contribute your time, energy, or expertise, here are a few groups you can reach out to:
- KC Tenants is one of the most well-organized advocacy groups and resource centers in the metro. They have a spot for you to lend a hand. You can also redistribute funds through KC Tenants’ mutual aid fund.
- Liberation Lit works to build a world without cages as they send books and letters to incarcerated populations.
- Friday Night Protest organizes action combatting and bringing attention to police violence. The greater the attendance at such protests, the better.
- Kansas City’s chapter of the Sunrise Movement—a group of youth galvanizing action against climate change—is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s a great place for young folks to contribute organizing energy.
- Lead to Read matches volunteers with individual students in grade school across the city that need personal attention to catch up to their peers in reading and reading comprehension.
- Barrier Babes is a nonprofit that provides sexual health to the midwest by handing out everything from free condoms to tampons. You can volunteer and give through their website.
Let’s reframe this season of giving as a season of solidarity as a city.
Pitch in and we’ll make it through.