The country was shut down to stop coronavirus “until Trump found out who was dying,” and the disproportionate impact on Latino, Black, and indigenous lives was revealed, racial justice advocates say. When our leaders are not supporting us in crisis, it’s up to us to lift each other through acts of kindness and mutual aid. This week’s “5 Essential Updates” includes Latino criminalization during coronavirus, lacking health care access, and music for Za common good.
1. Unequal policing — In New York City, 81% of the people stopped and given summons for breaking the city’s coronavirus “social distancing” policies are Latinos and Black. These statistics, released by NYPD data, highlight racial disparities. Melissa Mark Viverito, a current congressional candidate, called these policies “the new form of stop-and-frisk.”
2. Latinos without health care — Unequal access to healthcare is just one reason Latinos have been hit so hard by coronavirus, and treatment remains universally unavailable. The Hispanic Caucus is urging the Trump administration to at least expand benefits and COVID-19 treatment for Medicare Advantage recipients. These include over 22 million people in the U.S. and 600,000 in Puerto Rico who are elderly, or living with disabilities.
3. Cycles of poverty — When we don’t have internet access, or sufficient free time, our chances of accessing government support drops. Just ask Mileyka Burgos-Flores, director of a community development organization in Miami. She was assisting 25 small businesses apply for a financial assistance program, but after only one hour the program ran out of money. This problem echoes across the country, as Latino business owners disproportionately face barriers accessing financial relief.
4. Solidarity in film — Queens is the neighborhood of immigrants in New York called “the epicenter of the epicenter,” where over a third of the deaths have been Latino. The short film “Queens in Quarantine,” created by Mexican American filmmaker Bernando Ruíz, is a screenshot of daily life, and shows the Queens community standing together in solidarity.
5. Música & support — Undocumented immigrants have been supporting us with frontline work, and now there’s a way to support them from our homes. The 5 de Mayo fundraising event “Altísimo Live” featuring Latino artists (including Ivy Queen and Los Tigres del Norte), raised over $500,000 for the Farmworkers Pandemic Relief Fund. Latino artists are continuing to release content, so we can enjoy their live sets, while supporting our frontline farmworkers.