“We must face this growing crisis with courage and compassion to spark change that lasts long after COVID-19,” read a statement on the campaign’s website.
May 16, 2020
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been growing concern surrounding the spread of the virus within correctional facilities. Rapper and activist Common is putting the focus on helping incarcerated populations through the creation of a new campaign, TIME reported.
.@common‘s campaign, #WeMatterToo, is urging authorities to release people who have served the vast majority of their sentences, especially if they have existing health conditions that put them at greater risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. https://t.co/sWyg9EBIG1— billboard (@billboard) May 15, 2020
The initiative—dubbed #WeMatterToo—is being led through his nonprofit Imagine Justice. The organization develops projects focused on criminal justice reform. Through the #WeMatterToo campaign, Imagine Justice has teamed up with community organizers and like-minded nonprofits to collectively call on elected officials to release individuals who have served a majority of their sentences and provide them with adequate testing and resources upon their release. “We must face this growing crisis with courage and compassion to spark change that lasts long after COVID-19 is gone to support our incarcerated brothers and sisters and keep them as safe and healthy as possible. The current conversation around our nation’s incarcerated community focuses only on numbers, policy, and the economic impact of COVID-19 on our criminal justice system,” read a statement on the campaign’s website. “We need to shift the discussion to one deeply rooted in humanity and compassion that acknowledges the human toll that this pandemic is having on our nation’s criminal justice system.”
Common says unsanitary and inhumane prison conditions have been exacerbated due to the public health crisis and it’s important to address the issue. He hopes the campaign will not only raise funds to tackle the matter head-on but spread awareness about the unjust system. “It’s a troubling time for them because they are the people who usually are overlooked,” he said in a statement. “We all have unanswered questions about the pandemic. But being in prison adds new levels to that questioning, because of the way that people have been treated in prison.”
Common isn’t the only hip-hop star who is using their platform to spread awareness about injustices within correctional facilities. Jay-Z and Meek Mill donated surgical masks to prisons and jails to ensure the safety of inmates, correctional officers, and other staff members as well as healthcare workers through their nonprofit REFORM Alliance.