As coronavirus cases climb across the country, experts have cited essential jobs and crowded living conditions for the high rates of COVID-19 amongst Latinos. Nearly 70% of Latinos fear soon being unable to afford basic expenses such as rent, food, and utilities. This week’s “5 Essential Updates” includes workers demanding their rights, fewer Latinos in newsrooms, and essential workers facing discrimination in meat plants.
1. Workers between life and death — Bartolomé Perez has worked at McDonald’s for 30 years, but says the stakes during the pandemic are steeper since every time you go to work ”could be your last.” His colleagues at McDonald’s in 20 U.S. cities protested last week, demanding hazard pay and additional protections. They’re joining garbage collectors and grocery workers.
2. Media ‘whitening’ — As COVID-19 continues to damage the economy, and newsrooms are forced to make cuts, Latino, Black, and Indigenous journalists are the first to go. We need voices like Adriana Gallardo’s, a reporter at Anchorage Daily News, who’s written about crossing the border as a child, shared her immigrant experiences, and recently won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. As journalists of color are removed from newsrooms, our narratives go silent.
3. Latinos as contact tracers — Governments are strategizing to stop the spread of coronavirus infections, and “contact tracers” will play a key role in alerting the network of people who’ve been in contact with someone diagnosed. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill, requested that more “Latinos and immigrants are included” in the contact tracer hires, pointing to the high rate of Latinos affected, and noting that they’re experienced and trusted.
4. Unfair discrimination — Despite having to risk their lives by being deemed ‘essential workers,’ and with more than 10,000 mostly-Latino meatpacking workers contracting coronavirus, many of them and their families are experiencing discrimination due to fears that they’re spreading the virus. Some are not allowed into grocery stores, which is a tragedy when “4 out of every 5 Latinos are considered essential workers,” explained Domingo Garcia, LULAC president.
5. Need artistic inspiration? — When you need a break from quarantine news, we recommend a dive to revel in these beautiful Latino arts:
- Chicana Dance Crew video, blending tap and Mexican traditional footwork,
- Online exhibitions at El Museo,
- Live art tutorials at Latino Arts,
- and Ernesto Yerena Montejano’s colorful prints.