Not all heroes wear capes!
We hear the term applied a lot to people out in the world going above and beyond to help people who need it most. If there was ever a more perfect person that exemplifies the phrase, look no further than Frederick Joseph.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. He became a real-life superhero to a lot of Black kids across the country thanks to his #BlackPantherChallenge, which raised over $900,000 and helped 73,000 Black children see the record-breaking Marvel film that featured an all-Black cast.
Joseph wasn’t done; he then decided to launch the #CaptainMarvelChallenge, which surpassed its goal of $200,000 and sent more than 500 girls in Los Angeles to see the first women-led Marvel film, Captain Marvel. He also got a huge shoutout from the film’s star Brie Larson.
Little did Joseph know he would have to use his powers for good once again but for a grave matter. Immediately when the country began to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he realized people will be in dire need of financial assistance and began the Rent Relief campaign.
We caught up with Fred, and he spoke to us about the campaign, how much money he raised, and more. Step into the interview below.
Cassius Life: When the coronavirus first started affecting people in the country, what made you decide to spring into action?
Frederick Joseph: Well, for me, over the last few years, especially, I’ve been someone who’s tried to use my platform and keeping my networks to do the right thing when the right thing kinda needs to be done. So a few weeks before starting the Rent Relief campaign, I actually started a GoFundMe and raised about $40,000 with a food bank in New York. After doing that, I kinda realized I’m like, I don’t think this is enough, and I think that something else needs to be done to meet the moment. So I spoke to the GoFundMe team, and we kinda partnered to create this effort because we felt as though what people need right now is money in hand, right? Like you just lost your job, if you defer a loan, so on so forth, that means you need money. You need money for food. You need money for rent, light bills, etc.
CL: So you said you raised $40,000 for the Food Bank of New York. How much were you able to raise for the rent initiative?
FJ: So they’re still raising money right now. We’re at $322,000.
CL: How is the money distributed out to those in dire need of it?
FJ: Yeah, so we use CashApp, Zelle, and PayPal, and people are able to reply to posts, via my Twitter and my Instagram. So what we do is, when people reply to certain posts with their CashApp or whatever, they’ll also typically add-in, why they need the money so on and so forth. And then we basically see who could this money have the biggest impact on, right, so if someone says “Hey, I need money for a laptop,” then we have to weigh that against someone who’s like “Hey, I need money because there’s no food in my refrigerator,” right. So, at that point, there’ll kinda be the decision as to who $200 would make a greater impact on.
CL: You’re literally out here doing great work. How do you feel the government should be helping in this time of need? What do you think the government should be doing right now?
FJ: Yeah, well, I think that the government has, ultimately, failed the American people and continues to fail us every single day. We got the stimulus check of $1200, most of us, like myself, I didn’t get one based on my taxes and what not but, $1200, even if you got it, is not enough, to meet the need of all the expenses that people have after the economy has spiraled out of control.
And then, the reality of it is this, last month, a third of renters in America were unable to pay for their rent. So, another failure is the fact that rent and mortgages haven’t been nationally suspended or canceled. So I think the government has absolutely failed us so far.
CL: How long do you plan on running the campaign?
FJ: For me, it really is a matter of how long we can raise funds, right? So, as long as funds don’t run out, we’ll keep on going. If everything was over tomorrow, miraculously –which it won’t be– obviously, then we would stop tomorrow, but since that won’t be happening, I’m just gonna keep on hustling, tryna get as many people to support this as possible because. However, we’ve helped over 1,300 people now, there’s still 13 million who need help.
CL: Do you have any other campaigns coming down the pipeline to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic? Or is this is just broadly touching everything?
FJ: Well, for me, in terms of direct campaigns, I’m gonna be partnering with a few people, to do some work, to help essential workers, and make sure that people have information about how to safely, be out in public and things like that. My focus is using my platform to make sure people are safe, so, if we’re not giving money back, then at least make sure that people have the information through campaigns and public initiatives, to be safe.
CL: Once this is over when we get a vaccine or reliable treatment, how do you plan on continuing to help people that will still be in need? There is going to be a lot of people still reeling from this when it’s all said and done.
FJ: Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of the work that I’ll continue to do will be partnering. Probably with food banks and shelters, and places like that, using my platform, and some of my assets and things like that, to make sure that people have the information and the resources that they need. I think that everybody has to do their part in this for us to get out of it. Like we literally have to all have all hands on deck right now. So, whatever, whatever calls me, whatever I can do, I’m gonna do that.
CL: So, we see you’re helping people, but how is Fred dealing with the pandemic, how are you holding up during these times?
FJ: Uh, mental health kinda things like that? I think, for me, the pandemic has been detrimental to the psyche and the soul, right? Like, just seeing people struggling and frankly, I’m in a very privileged position. I own my own marketing agency, and I signed the book deal a few months back so, I’m in a position of abundance, but I see and hurt for the people who are suddenly in a position, of dire survival. So from that aspect, I’m hurt, and I have people in my family who I’ve already lost to the virus, so that’s hurt me as well. We have lost at least four people.
CL: Damn, sorry to hear that. So final question –which gladly ties into that– do you have a message for the people trying to make ends meet, dealing with their rent and all kinds of other issues due to the virus?
FJ: Yeah, I think that the call to actions everybody needs to be demanding that their elected officials do more. I said this earlier on Twitter, like, look, we’re all home right now, or at least we should be and, we actually are the people who, who give power to these politicians, right? And if your elected officials are not pushing for policies that are gonna help you survive, then they don’t need to be getting your support. You need to demand that they actually are being held accountable and do what they need to do because, if not, this country is gonna spiral outta control.
CL: No lies detected.
You can follow Frederick Joseph on Twitter and Instagram too keep with the Rent Relief campaign, and if you need help, you can reach out to him as well.
Photo: Frederick Joseph