Mural by local artist Georgie Nakima at the corner of Beatties Ford Road and Booker Avenue.

Today, Facebook announced that QCity Metro is among the 144 newsrooms awarded grants through the Facebook Journalism Project’s Covid-19 relief fund for local news.

Funds totaling $100,000 will go toward continuing our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Charlotte’s Black community. A separate collaboration between WFAE, Charlotte Ledger and QCity Metro was also awarded $100,000.

Why it matters

Since its founding in 2008 by veteran business reporter/editor Glenn Burkins, QCity Metro has been a trusted source of news and information for a large segment of Charlotte’s Black community.

Weeks before local health officials began to report the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 was having on Black communities, QCity Metro was tracking the numbers.

We raised the question, “Why is no one talking about the spread of Covid-19 in Mecklenburg’s Black communities?” and challenged our county’s health director to acknowledge what we already knew.

We pointed out that there were no Covid-19 testing facilities in Black and Latino communities in Mecklenburg County — the communities hardest hit by the disease. Days later, the region’s two largest healthcare providers each announced plans to open testing sites in some of Charlotte’s poorest neighborhoods.

Our reporting has gotten results.

Going deeper

Now, with the help of this Facebook journalism grant, we propose to take our Covid-19 reporting to a deeper level — a level that benefits our readers while also enhancing our long-term viability as the go-to medium for Black Charlotte.

Over the next 12 months, our team plans to track the economic and social fallout in Charlotte’s Black communities.

It’s been said that when White America gets the sniffles, Black America catches pneumonia. We know this was true with the economic downturn of 2007, when countless African-American families lost their homes to predatory lending practices, and the wealth gap between Black and white families widened.

Likewise, we foresee the economic impact of Covid-19 landing disproportionately on Black communities — families that lack the economic resources to weather the resulting unemployment and lost wages. Black businesses will close in disproportionate numbers, and Black children will be left behind because of school disruptions.

Telling your stories

Included in this work will be a series of short, first-person essays documenting the social, emotional and economic toll on Black residents. These essays will be printed in a special publication and distributed free of charge through local churches and community groups.

Each essayist will be paired with a veteran journalist to assist with the writing and storytelling, and each essayist will be paid for his/her contribution.

Some essayists might speak about the loss of a business, others about losing a job, home or even a close family member. Others will capture the fear and uncertainty that has stalked some communities of color.

We will monetize this content through sponsorships with some of the region’s largest companies, especially those in the healthcare sector.

Finally, at the end of this yearlong project, QCity Metro will partner with local sponsors to host a one-day symposium to celebrate our work and to discuss the progress made and the road ahead for Charlotte’s vulnerable communities.

Getting involved

While many stories about Charlotte’s Black community center around historic neighborhoods, there are the untold stories about emerging areas where Black residents are establishing roots. This work is an opportunity to hear from diverse voices that exist within the Black community, no matter where you live in Charlotte.

Want to share your story? Let’s connect. Are you a journalist interested in joining our work? We want to hear from you, too.

These are unprecedented times, and it’s our goal to look back on this period, through your stories, and show that Charlotte came out stronger.

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