How the virus devastated workers in a Brooklyn neighborhood

Originally published by Jasmine Garsd on NPR’s Marketplace on July 13, 2020.

Father Edward Mason remembers when he realized COVID-19 was going to be devastating to his community in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York City. It was back in mid-April. In the local public housing complex, a lot of seniors weren’t answering their phones. “And when they went into the apartments, they found 10 seniors who had passed away,” he said. “Alone in their apartment. Predominantly Black, with a heavy Latino influence as well.”

Father Edward Mason delivers Communion at his church in Brownsville. (Jasmine Garsd/Marketplace)

Black and Latino people have been three times more likely to get infected by COVID-19 than their white neighbors and twice as likely to die once they get infected, according to Centers for Disease Control data obtained by The New York Times this month. Among the many reasons for this nationwide disparity is that Black and Latino workers are much more likely to have jobs that can’t be done from home — essential jobs like public servant, bus driver, health care attendant or grocery clerk.

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Mama, Am I Going to Die Young Because I’m Black in America?

Originally published by Erasma Beras-Monticicolo on the BK Reader on July 1, 2020.

“Am I going to die young because I’m Black in America?”

That was the question my 7-year-old son asked during our recent family meeting initiated by the Black Lives Matter protests happening across the nation. My husband and I had decided it was time to have this family discussion with our sons, who are multiracial and ages 7 and 11, as the looming summer quickly became one of heightening racial turmoil.

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Brownsville is Waging its Own Fight Against COVID-19 and Racism

Taylor Gordon bagging food for BMS and East Brooklyn Food Safety Initiative at BCCC on Belmont Avenue. Photo: Hannah Whise

Originally published by Erasma Beras-Monticciolo on City Limits on June 19, 2020.

In Brownsville, Brooklyn we have struggled to find the words to express how we felt as we watched the video of George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of police in Minnesota. Ninety-nine percent of Brownsville’s population identifies as people of color, and although we may be geographically distant from Minneapolis, our hearts and minds are aligned. 

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We’re Reopening, Yet Communities of Color Are Still Suffering and Social Service Organizations Are Hemorrhaging

Originally published by Erasma Beras-Monticciolo on on June 12, 2020.

New York emerges from lockdown yet black and brown communities still have high infection rates and those of us supporting them, are stretched.

I’m increasingly heartened by media images of people protesting en masse throughout the nation in an anguished cry for justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. But, I am also growing increasingly alarmed at how local governments will effectively balance this new nationwide movement for social justice along with planning for life after the COVID-19 crisis.

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Healing and Protecting Children from Racial Trauma and COVID-19 Pandemic

Originally published by Erasma Beras-Monticciolo on on June 12, 2020.

Our community doesn’t get a break. In the midst of this pandemic, we’re seeing a combustible mix of isolation, job loss, sickness, and feelings of being trapped and terrorized by an epidemic of police brutality. These experiences create exposure to toxic stress and leads to a decrease in the protective factors that are crucial to the health and well-being of children and families.

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Statement on Violence Against Black Communities

Dear Friends and Family,

The events of the past week have been horrifying. For decades, we have watched countless videos of law enforcement brutally exerting their power, both physically and psychologically, against black bodies. I wish that I could say that this behavior is an anomaly, but it’s not. This behavior goes back to chattel slavery when my ancestors were bought and sold like property.

Historically, the dehumanizing use of force was designed to incite fear and oppress Black people, and it is now deeply codified and rooted in many of our nation’s policies and policing practices. My people have lived in a pervasive fear of it for centuries. That fear has been ingrained into our biology and psyche, denying us the right to ownership of our own bodies and to an unfettered pursuit of happiness.

George Floyd was denied those rights. So were Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Bettie Jones, Philando Castile, Natasha, McKenna, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others that died simply for living while black.

Power of Two joins our community in mourning every single black life lost to senseless brutality and racism. And yet, amid our mourning, we also see hope. We see people throughout the United States and around the world coming together in solidarity with our Black communities.

Around the globe we are united in our shared humanity. We see people filling the streets from England to Canada to Germany to New Zealand, marching with the shared conviction that the racism we face is not acceptable and cannot continue.

There is power in those demonstrations and It is our hope that this will not be an isolated instance of protests, but rather the beginning of a long-term and concerted movement. There is also power in collective sharing and we will continue to use our platform to lift up the voices of those we have lost and those of us that are marshaling change.

Erasma Beras-Monticciolo

Executive Director, Power of Two

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The Enduring Effects of Family Separations at the Border

We at Power of Two began holding our breath when we first became aware of the Trump administration’s policy separating adults illegally crossing American borders from the children accompanying them.

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Exciting News at Power of Two

Happy New Year! Power of Two is kicking off this New Year with some exciting news. We are pleased to announce that Erasma Monticciolo has assumed the role of Executive Director at Power of Two.

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Can People be Saved from a Terrible Childhood?


Lauren Zanolli writes for The Guardian of how US researchers have found early intervention can help prevent negative experiences in infancy turning into long-term health risks.

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