Racial Justice Agenda

 COVID 19 

The Fight for Liberation Amidst a Pandemic

This past month, as people across the globe confronted the uncharted reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) assessed the grave challenges that lie ahead, and mounted a bold, community centered response strategy. Against the sobering backdrop of this unprecedented health disaster, we are forging ahead in the fight for racial justice, by reimagining how our society cares for its people and leveraging collective power to achieve a common vision of equity, opportunity, and liberation.

 

This historic global crisis will test the mettle of our country, and lay bare not only the faulty underpinnings of its unjust institutions, but also the true source of its enduring resilience and strength, which is rooted in our communities. In a moment when the national government has failed to exhibit the judgement, resolve, and humanity warranted by this deadly pandemic, it is incumbent upon grassroots activists to assume the mantle of leadership.

 

WCRJ has put forth an assertive COVID-19 response plan that addresses the most urgent policy priorities of Black Illinoisans amidst this public health and economic crisis. In the weeks and months to come, we will work to amplify these demands to the Governor and state legislature by unifying local community members behind a collective vision of racial justice.

The Imperative of a Racial Justice Policy Response

As public health officials release preliminary details on statewide COVID-19 fatalities, a harrowing, yet all too familiar trend has become evident: Staggering racial divides in generational wealth, employment opportunity, homeownership rates, and healthcare have led to a fivefold disparity in death rates between Black and White Illinoisans. Similarly, early economic indicators confirm that the COVID-19 crisis will only further exacerbate the abiding structural barriers to financial opportunity that Black workers and business owners in Illinois have endured for generations. 

And yet, despite the projected magnitude of this unprecedented catastrophe and its disparate racial impacts, initial federal relief measures have proven to be, not only distressingly modest in scope, but also markedly “color blind.” Over the course of the past century, communities of color have witnessed how purportedly “race neutral” national recovery mobilizations have, in fact, explicitly served to advance white prosperity to the exclusion of Black opportunity. Time and again, from the New Deal, to the post-war G.I. bill, to the 2008 financial crisis bailouts, U.S. domestic recovery policies have served to exacerbate racial inequality in every aspect of American society.
 
The initial national response to the COVID-19 pandemic forecasts a comparable trajectory. The federal CARES Act falls disastrously short of providing sufficient economic relief to American households, and leaves large populations of disproportionately Black individuals behind altogether. Moreover, by failing to account for the overwhelming institutional barriers Black business owners face in accessing financial credit, the bill’s small business recovery program will only serve to further amplify the nation’s racial wealth gap.

 


 Similarly, Illinois has failed to mount an adequate racial justice response to address the statewide health and economic disaster. Months into the pandemic, Illinois has yet to enact effective emergency COVID-19 labor protections, leaving Black workers, who are overrepresented in essential industries, particularly exposed to the deadly virus. The state has also abdicated its responsibility to safeguard the healthcare and human rights of individuals detained in Illinois' racially targeted prison system. And while Governor Pritzker has implemented timely measures to shore up Illinois businesses in the midst of the economic shutdowns, racial equity provisions are glaringly absent from his commercial relief package.

Voicing Our Demands

In order to counter the devastating racialized toll that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the health and economic stability of Black communities across Illinois, WCRJ will champion a sweeping agenda of racial justice response policies at the state level. The core issue areas of our plan, which include economic relief, workers rights, justice reform, and equitable democracy, reflect the policy priorities of WCRJ’s membership. In the coming weeks, we will direct the following legislative demands to key decision makers in state government, including Governor J.B. Pritzker, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, and members of the Illinois General Assembly.

 

Economic Justice Demands

How does Cryotherapy work?


At Orange Cryo Wellness our cryosauna use nitrogen gas to lower the client’s skin surface temperature by 30-50 degrees during a three minute session. The skin reacts to the cold and sends messages to the brain that stimulates the body to go into survival mode by shunting blood from the extremities to the core where the blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes and nutrients. As the body re-warms, this nutrient rich blood is pushed back to the extremities. Enriched blood expels toxins from subcutaneous layers, initiates cell renewal process, triggers replacement of damaged cells and eliminates dead cells from peripheral tissues. Or simply put, cryotherapy is rejuvenation of the body at the cellular level.




Who shouldn't do whole-body Cryotherapy?


The following conditions are contraindications to Whole Body Cryotherapy: Pregnancy, severe Hypertension (BP> 180/100), acute or recent myocardial infarction, unstable angina pectoris, arrhythmia, symptomatic cardiovascular disease, cardiac pacemaker, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, venous thrombosis, acute or recent cerebrovascular accident, uncontrolled seizures, severe Raynaud’s Syndrome, fever, tumor disease, symptomatic lung disorders, bleeding disorders, severe anemia, and infection. Minimum age requirement of 16. Children under 18 must have parental consent and have a parent present during treatment. Click here to view our medical waiver.




Can I go longer than 3 minutes?


We don’t allow our clients to go any longer than 3 minutes, but they can build up to colder temperatures over time! 3 minutes is an appropriate and safe treatment time of cryotherapy for our clients to receive maximum benefits.




How cold is it?


Cold... but manageable! We start our clients at -130 celsius (roughly -202 fahrenheit) and as they come in to us regularly, we can begin to make the temperature colder. Your session can vary from anywhere between -220 and -256 farenheit as you start to build to colder temperatures!




Can I go back to work right after a whole-body, facial or local Cryotherapy session?


Yes! A huge bonus to cryotherapy is that it doesn’t disturb your everyday life. After a whole body session, we recommend you drink water, but other than that you are free to go about your day; you may even notice that you have more energy, flexibility and mobility afterward. During the facial, you can actually keep all your makeup on! Everything stays in place and that way you can head right back into the office or to your next appointment after a relaxing 6 minute session.




What do I wear?


Orange Cryo Wellness provides every client with a robe, socks, crocs and gloves that are used to protect your extremities during the treatment. Women can be nude (bra optional, but no underwire) and men must wear undergarments. All clients must remove all jewelry and exterior metal/body piercings. Additionally, it is recommended that you pat yourself dry with a towel and do not apply oils, lotions, or cologne immediately prior to treatment.




How many treatments are needed to acheive optimal results?


We recommend all clients experience the therapeutic dose of cryotherapy, 3-5 sessions in their first week of treatment. This allows the body to go through the process of the blood circulating and becoming re-oxygenated to where inflammation is naturally starting to decrease. After the therapeutic dose, your Orange Cryo staff member will recommend a cryo plan for you varying from once a week for “maintenance” to daily cryo sessions depending on what it is you are coming in to treat.




Is Nitrogen dangerous?


No, it isn't. Nitrogen is a non-toxic, natural gas. The air that we breathe is made up of 20% Oxygen, 78% Nitrogen and 2% of other components.




What does whole-body Cryotherapy feel like?


We won’t lie to you… it’s cold. But that’s the point! It’s a fast, dry, cold therapy so the plus side is that you’re not wet and it’s only three minutes! We help you to feel comfortable by talking you through your session and never leaving you while you’re in the cryosauna. You’ll feel amazing when you come out of your session and naturally start to “thaw out” throughout your day after your freeze.




How many times a day can I freeze?


At Orange Cryo, we allow our clients to utilize our cryotherapy treatments once a day. We want to ensure that your skin has completely warmed before your next session, usually about 4-8 hours. We will only allow a client to freeze more than once a day (within allotted time frame) if they have a note from a doctor with an explanation of why they would need the treatment twice in a 24 hour period.





Workers Rights Demands

Ensure adequate protections to all essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic


Mandate that employers provide essential workers with personal protective equipment at no personal cost, as well as two additional weeks of paid sick leave. Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, all full and part time workers must also receive time-and-a-half hazard pay increases, which, for small and lower revenue businesses, will be subsidized by the state. Mandate that employers extend presumptive eligibility for COVID-19 to all essential workers to ensure that employees are entitled to workers compensation if they contract the disease.




Invest in longer term growth of high quality jobs for Illinois workers


Establish a statewide economic relief package for employers that primarily funds staff retention or expansion through grants and employee targeted tax credit measures. Make such funding contingent upon critical worker protections, including 80 hours of sick leave and living wage compensation. Require all Illinois employers to offer full time workers 80 hours of paid sick leave annually, and commensurate paid sick leave to part time employees. Protect employment opportunities for workers who were laid off during the pandemic shutdown, by implementing statewide Right to Recall mandates, under which employers must first offer any re-opened positions to previously terminated or laid off workers, before taking on new hires.





Justice Reform Demands

Ensure adequate protections to all essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic


Mandate that employers provide essential workers with personal protective equipment at no personal cost, as well as two additional weeks of paid sick leave. Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, all full and part time workers must also receive time-and-a-half hazard pay increases, which, for small and lower revenue businesses, will be subsidized by the state. Mandate that employers extend presumptive eligibility for COVID-19 to all essential workers to ensure that employees are entitled to workers compensation if they contract the disease.




Invest in longer term growth of high quality jobs for Illinois workers


Establish a statewide economic relief package for employers that primarily funds staff retention or expansion through grants and employee targeted tax credit measures. Make such funding contingent upon critical worker protections, including 80 hours of sick leave and living wage compensation. Require all Illinois employers to offer full time workers 80 hours of paid sick leave annually, and commensurate paid sick leave to part time employees. Protect employment opportunities for workers who were laid off during the pandemic shutdown, by implementing statewide Right to Recall mandates, under which employers must first offer any re-opened positions to previously terminated or laid off workers, before taking on new hires.





Equitable Democracy Demands 

Implement a rapid response plan to ensure equitable ballot access throughout the pandemic


Establish statewide universal vote-by-mail procedures, expand early and absentee voting, increase number polling sites to prevent lines and crowding, and equip voting locations with essential sanitation and personal protective equipment.




Ensure continuity of legislative representation throughout the COVID-19 crisis


Throughout the ongoing suspension of the legislative term, hold remote lawmaker deliberations to ensure swift passage of COVID-19 relief measures. Designate a specific emergency working group to address the adverse racialized impact of COVID-19 on Illinois communities. After social distancing orders are lifted, call for an immediate resumption of the 101st General Assembly, and schedule additional emergency session time explicitly dedicated to a statewide racial justice COVID-19 response.





What Did We Miss?

WCRJ's Racial Justice Response Agenda for COVID-19 reflects our core issue areas, which include economic justice, workers rights, justice reform, and equitable democracy. We recognize that there are many additional and equally important policy priorities at the intersection of COVID-19 and racial justice which fall outside of these categories.

We invite to you share feedback on what additional COVID-19 policies you believe are essential to the fight for racial equity.

WCRJ's online COVID-19 Racial Justice Agenda is not supported by mobile devices. Please view this report on a laptop or desktop browser, or download the PDF version of our demands.

Take Action 

Your voice is essential to the fight for Black liberation. In order to ensure that critical racial justice COVID-19 response measures are implemented, WCRJ needs allies like you to step up and demand action from our elected officials. Take 30 seconds to send a pre-written email to Governor Pritzker, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, and members of the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus, urging their immediate adoption of these important policies.