Covid-19 and Justice-Oriented Research: A Message from FRI

By Anna Ward, Program and Grants Manager and Kalindi Vora, Director

Early in its US onset, Covid-19 had already taken a hugely disproportionate toll on people of color, migrants, and the incarcerated. Federally supported medical research continues to ignore differences in women’s bodies, which now slows down our pursuit of possible vaccines for Covid-19 (higher antibodies correspond with patients identifying as women). And these are just the early results.

We are seeing on a daily basis how social structures of inequity that predispose minorities, women, or the disabled to premature death or undue illness. Yet the federal government does not address these structural inequalities in its healthcare strategies. As a recent example, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams addressed the higher rate of complications and death from Covid-19 among black and Latino Americans as resulting from individual decisions that increased the risk of individuals in those communities. This explanation ignores the fact that most of these individuals are employed in necessary public service jobs including public transit, food work, and healthcare. As another example, early data suggests that severe cases of Covid-19 correlate to patients living with high levels of air pollution. Our current healthcare design can’t accommodate disease as it affects diverse humans as interdependent parts of larger social and environmental structures.

We are also seeing the uneven toll that stay at home measures are taking on women, as caregivers, as essential health workers, and as people who have already carried a heavy burden of combined home and professional work.

FRI believes that justice-oriented research must seize this moment for making transformative change possible. Next year, our research theme is “Beyond Health.” While we wait to meet in person to do this work together, we have started by keeping a list of resources to support teaching, research and solidarity building towards more feminist futures emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic.


#CoronavirusSyllabus: an outstanding, comprehensive compilation of readings and other resources to help, in the words of Anne Fausto-Sterling, “teach the virus.”

            Alondra Nelson on “Pandemics, Inequality, and the #CoronavirusSyllabus”

Navigating the Pandemic Syllabus: Duke University Press has gathered their relevant publications and made them open source for a limited time, including Priscilla Wald’s outstanding Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (2008)

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “The Black Plague” (The New Yorker)

Critical Conversations: COVID-19 and the Structures of Crisis in the Black Community (Video discussion)

Intersectionality Matters “Under the Blacklight” Podcast Series with Kimberle Crenshaw

Coronavirus is not the great equalizer — race matters” by Roberta K. Timothy

“The pandemic and the female academic” (Nature)

Hilderbrand, Lucas. “Watching the End Times from the Good Place.”

“Consider the Pandemic Plushie” by Scott Herring on BullyBloggers: BullyBloggers never disappoints with the quirkiness and Herring’s examination of COVID-19 inspired goods on Etsy is no exception.

“She discovered coronaviruses decades ago—but got little recognition.” National Geographic profile of the scientist who first identified the coronavirus.

Call for Feminist COVID-19 Policy Feminist Alliance for Rights

Asian American Feminist Antibodies: Care in the Time of Corona Virus An Asian American Feminist Collective & Bluestockings NYC Collaboration

Somatosphere’s series: Dispatches from the pandemic

Pod Mapping for Mutual Aid by Rebel Sidney Black

Spade, Dean. “Solidarity Not Charity Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival” (March 2020 in Social Text): Timely publication of Spade’s work on mutual aid

Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid & How to Organize in the Age of Coronavirus” f. Dean Spade on Democracy Now!

Survived and Punished’s #SocialBridging for COVID19

Planning for Post-Corona: Five proposals to craft a radically more sustainable and equal world: English translation of a proposal/manifesto signed by over 150 academics based in the Netherlands. Food for thought on the question of what comes after and what should never go back to normal.