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HomeEntrepreneurship911: Black Funeral Directors Risking COVID-19 Daily, Need PPE

911: Black Funeral Directors Risking COVID-19 Daily, Need PPE

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Photo: Billy Calzada, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

Black funeral directors are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, according to Dr. Hari P. Close. Close is the National President of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association. Much has been said about first responders during this pandemic but “last responders,” those who care for families at their most critical time of need and mourning, have been mostly ignored. Black funeral directors are doing all they can to care for Black families during this time of crisis but they’re doing it at great risk to their own lives: they’re without personal protection equipment (PPE) and they need our help. Click here to help Black last responders, they need us desperately.

Dr. Hari P. Close, National President of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people in the US and disproportionately, Black people. Compounding the grief of death, families have been unable to bury their loved ones, due to the onslaught of the virus. While families cannot come together to mourn, funeral directors must take the risk to care for the dead. Daily, Black funeral directors, especially, are literally risking their lives to care for Black families during this time. Funeral homes are listed as essential businesses but they haven’t been treated as such. The concern, energy and financial assistance afforded to first responders and others simply hasn’t extended to a group of men and women who are seldom seen and never heard: death care workers. Still, it is a labor of love that they perform daily, without fanfare or hardly an acknowledgment. They mean everything to families in grief but surprisingly, they mean so much more to the Black community.

In 1900, Booker T. Washington started the National Negro Business League– before the NAACP and National Urban League were formed. Washington brought together 12 professions in the Black community and among them was the “undertakers.” The funeral business has been a longstanding partner to the Black freedom movement, a stable rock in the Black community, even as other industries chose to shy away. At the height of segregation, when many wouldn’t dare touch Black bodies, Black funeral directors were in the business of honoring even the “strange fruit.” Black funeral homes have always provided a necessary service to the Black community but more importantly, they have been the strong, silent partner to every Black hope and aspiration.

Black funeral directors have always labored in silence and cared without fanfare. Black families have always had a partner in their grief. Today, as COVID-19 continues to rage, that has not changed but the risk to funeral directors has. Black death care workers desperately need PPE to continue caring for families. Larger organizations have ignored them and even government, for that matter. Black families need Black funeral directors and right now, they need us. Click here now to donate, this is literally a life and death matter.

About Post Author

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D'Juan Hopewell
D'Juan Hopewell
I care about Black Power. Period. Currently working on creating jobs and funding new startups on the South Side of Chicago and writing here and there at HopewellThought.com. Follow me @HopewellThought.
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