WE ARE HERE TO PROVOKE CHANGE
The mission of Equity and Transformation (EAT) is to achieve social and economic equity for Black Workers engaged in the informal economy.
History and background
Equity and Transformation (EAT) is a non-profit, community-led organization founded by and for post-incarcerated people. EAT was established in 2018 with the mission to uplift the voices and power of Black Chicagoans engaged in the informal economy: the diversified set of economic activities, enterprises, jobs, and workers that are not regulated or protected by the state. We have continuously witnessed system-impacted individuals face significant barriers in their everyday lives; they are shut out of the workforce, forced into informality, and criminalized for surviving. These systemic inequalities often lead to extreme poverty and additional periods of incarceration. EAT is committed to building social and economic equity for informal workers and dismantling anti-Black racism.
EAT strives to uplift the faces, voices, and power of individuals that operate within the informal economy. These are the bucket boys who we pass on the way to the train every day, the DVD bootlegger at your local barber shop, the person selling loose cigarettes at two for a dollar in front of the local liquor store, and the trans and cisgender commercial sex workers in our communities.
“Equity and Transformation is the political home for the people.
We are here to change systems and transform lives.”
- Richard Wallace, Founder & Executive Director of EAT
EAT’s strategy focuses on research, media-based organizing, community organizing, advocacy, and policy development to mobilize Chicago’s informal workforce to:
Transform the narrative of engagement in the informal economy from one of criminality to survivability; this is an intervention to reduce othering and increase safety.
Reimagine the definition of “laborer” through a lens that considers both the history of exclusion of Black workers and the depth of creativity required to thrive within an alternative labor system in a capitalist country.
Build bridges between the informal and formal economy for constituents seeking formal employment.
Create Informal Workers Associations (IWA) that defines its own vision of safety and equity.
Develop an Informal Workers Bill of Rights (IWBR) that supplements traditional labor standards with an alternative system of organization; this intervention can promote safety and sustainability within the informal economy.
EAT primarily applies these strategies to its work in the Chicago neighborhoods of Austin, Garfield Park, and Englewood.