About Us

About Mutual Aid

Welcome to the Duke Mutual Aid Community Fund. This mutual aid network formed out of the COVID19 crisis for the Duke/Durham community. However, mutual aid precedes this pandemic, existing in the Black Panther party’s survival programs since the mid-1900s and many more projects by indigenous, Black people, people of color, feminists, and people in the LGBTQ+ community. We honor and learn from those who came before us while experimenting in the present with our particular circumstances.

Mutual aid is rooted in abolitionist and anti-authoritarian praxis. Mutual aid is when people get together to meet each other’s basic survival needs. Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions by actually building new social relations that are more survivable (BigDoor Brigade). Mutual aid is NOT charity: rather than creating a centralized organization where one person is giving to someone else, forcing them to become dependent on yet another relationship negotiating their access to material resources, mutual aid creates a symbiotic relationship, where all people offer material goods or assistance to one another (VICE). We are not the first mutual aid group.

Mutual aid is only part of the work. It is not a last-resort response to crisis, a stopgap until more resources are available, or an act of philanthropy. It’s a process that makes it more possible to dismantle institutionality, individuality, and coloniality and move towards collectivity and abolition. It’s a practice of reciprocal and collective care within autonomous communities that aren’t recognized or supported by dominant institutions.

Principles

Anti-Racism

We are a multi-racial community and continue to grapple with racism within ourselves. We recognize that we must actively address and act against racism to be anti-racist. This means, as a community, we must actively thinking about how we view and interact with people, who we value, what we value, and who we want to connect with.

We recognize that Black people, indigenous people, people of color, and immigrants are disproportionately impacted by economic oppression because of decades of continued, systemic white supremacist genocide, racism, and colonialism.

We call on our network to reflect on how racism impacts our responses and reaction to individual requests. We recognize that racism clouds our vision and decision making and acknowledge that racial and other biases play a role in how community members interact with each other. Our Community working group will work to center anti-racism education, dialogue, and activist work in our network and our Financial team will follow up with each individual to ensure their needs have been met.

Mutual—“Everyone can give or get help”

Some might be able to provide physical support of picking stuff up, others might be able to provide money, others might be able to provide emotional support. We believe everyone has needs and everyone has something to give, and the current crisis quickly changes each individual’s relationships to what we have and what we need.

Needs-driven: This network is for any Duke student who has not received the necessary amount of funding from Duke Student Assistance Fund, any Duke worker, any Durham community member. Everyone deserves access to basic needs, and everyone deserves dignity and stability in their lives. We commit to working to support this.

Collectivity

Collective Responsibility: We call on our network to actively examine and address the dynamics of Duke students living in Durham and work to address and reshape these relationships.

Mutual aid is about recognizing that we all need each other and choosing to pool our resources so our community can thrive, deepening our community relationships and connectedness.

Collective liberation and fights: Durham is one place in a world of interconnected systems of oppression. Our work is focused in Durham but builds on the labor of other mutual aid networks across the world.

Trust

This network is built on trust. We work together with the common goal of meeting each others’ needs. Trust is needed to ask for help and to offer help.

Transparency and accountability

We strive for complete transparency. We commit to maintaining public records and explaining the organizing happening behind the network. Towards this end, here is a link to anonymized receipts for every money transfer we've facilitated for our network.

We strive to hold regular community calls to discuss and learn together as well as discuss structure and feedback. We commit to following up with each individual to build trust and accountability.

Confidentiality/Privacy

Only people who have access to checking or are helping tangibly with the account can view requests in full detail. All information that is shared publicly on Facebook will not reveal name, number, specific location, or anything that will reveal the specific identity of that person. The person’s phone number/Venmo will only be visible to the people organizing the forms responses.


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