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What Exactly is Mutual Aid?

From: The Desk of Ayada Leads

So, what exactly is Mutual Aid? Is it a buzzword? Is it simply the latest term in the civically engaged “woke” spaces? Will it lose all its meaning in a few years?

Well, Mutual Aid can mean a lot of things depending on the situation, but at its root, Mutual Aid is essentially solidarity. It is a way of participating in society in which we all take personal responsibility for one another. Solidarity with action. Truthfully if you ask me, it is really just another word for something that has been occurring for a long time.

When I think of many immigrant and first-generation communities, I think of Mutual Aid. It is one of the many beautiful things many carry with them. I’ve felt a sense of safety knowing that, at least in my experiences, I have that sense of community. That someone would help me out, not just because I am one of “them” but because they too know how hard things can be. Although it is not traditional American capitalistic culture, it is something we all deserve to have.

I think it is safe to say if you have interacted with the government during a time of need, you have also interacted with its limitations. As wonderful and idealistic as it would be to hope that if you fall on hard times, the state will be there for you, that is just not the reality. We see that in the countless people that struggle with receiving healthcare, gaining affordable housing, having accessible transportation, providing for their families and so much more. Mutual Aid is what steps in for that need.

It’s giving someone a ride to work, raising money through crowdfunding, and sharing your resources and knowledge freely to benefit one another. It’s having your neighbor’s, or really anyone in need, back. The premise is in giving with no expectation of return, a collectively shared sense of safety, in knowing that you are never alone. It is not based on blaming people for their situations or being charitable if only to look good.

For me, Mutual Aid has meant being taken care of and supported by those around me, but also those who you least expect it from. Mutual Aid is for those times when you need help and can rest assured that you won't fall through the cracks of our broken system because a community that cares for you will lift you up.

Here at Ayada Leads, we started a Mutual Aid Drive that we hope to continue on throughout the year. We hope our small steps inspire others as well, as we all continue on this journey for a better tomorrow.

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