It's been a little over 3 months since the national emergency was declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S. alone the virus has claimed the lives of over 100,000 victims, with more than 1.9 million having been infected. As this virus knows no boundaries of ethnicity, age, or wealth, no one has been immune to at least some level of impact. Yet one population disproportionately impacted, is our Hispanic community. 1 in 4 Latinos know someone infected by the coronavirus and from an economic standpoint 60% of Latinos have experienced a job loss or pay cut due to the pandemic.
Despite facing these harsh realities, Hispanics represent 19 million of the essential workers that continue to keep this country running. Beyond these everyday contributions, we’ve seen countless instances in which individuals are going above and beyond to support others in this age of uncertainty.
Another name in the culinary world, Chef José Andrés, is channeling his culinary craft into feeding those in need. This certainly isn’t the first time he’s stepped up in a time of crisis – coming to the aid of others in a handful of previous global disasters through his charity, World Central Kitchen. In the most recent months Andrés fed quarantined cruise ship passengers at ports in Japan and California, transformed the Washington Nationals’ stadium into a kitchen and free meal distribution center, and turned his NYC food hall into a community kitchen. Additionally he’s made his services available to another hard hit group, the Navajo nation; America’s largest American Indian population at roughly 356k. The Navajo nation has one of the highest infection rates in the world and has been virtually abandoned in terms of government support. Through providing boxes of foods as well as cooked meals for families with COVID-positive members Andrés is once again serving both hope and sustenance to folks being impacted.
Now when we think about the millions of workers who have still been showing up daily throughout the pandemic, our nation’s farmworkers are among that group deemed essential. Though farmers received “essential work letters” from the government to continue traveling to work in the fields, these letters don’t provide immunity from deportation that most immigrant farmworkers fear. Compound that ongoing anxiety with the fact that many of these foreign-born workers didn’t receive stimulus checks, don’t receive health insurance benefits and must show up regardless of being sick to not risk losing their jobs. It’s sadly ironic that a person categorized as illegal is now essential in this time of crisis.
Outside of Houston in Richards, Texas, Salvador Guadarrama and his mom, found another way to dedicate their time and resources to supporting the farmworkers community. They purchased a sewing machine, made 500 face masks, and traveled to the Rio Grande Valley by bus to distribute them in partnership with La Unión Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) a community-based nonprofit. Salvador was able to achieve his goal to help out these workers who are a pillar of our Hispanic culture.
While we can’t be sure of when things will return to a sense of normalcy or what exactly “normal” will look like, we can continue to find inspiration in these instances of humanity and resiliency in the face of adversity that as Hispanics we carry in our DNA.
Writer: Ashley Vigil