Black and brown and the frontlines

Our medical professionals, cashiers, sanitation workers, hospitality staff, food service employees and all other service industry workers are holding this country tf down right now.

They are providing essential resources and care and are literally responsible for keeping all this shit running. They do so often with inadequate pay and paid time off, while having to deal with new stressors on the job and figuring out childcare – all while putting themselves (and their families) at risk every single day. It always has been, but now more than ever, exhausting and thankless work.

Some of us with non-essential jobs are lucky enough to be able to work from home during this pandemic. 

But who exactly IS able to work from home? According to recent stats, 37% of Asian Americans, 30% of whites, 19.7% of Black Americans and 16.2% of Hispanic workers.

This disparity is due to Black and NB-POC disproportionately working what’s considered to be low-income jobs, which often are customer-facing or don’t come with many, if any, benefits – to include the option of working from home.

Take the thousands of Mexican workers who have signed up to be temporary agricultural workers, working only on US farms to ensure that there isn’t a food shortage.

Or the many Black grocery store stockers and cashiers who are working long hours just to guarantee that we can purchase the goods we need. 

The reason for this disparity? Well, that’s a complicated issue that’s probably better suited for its own post but decades (or centuries for some) of systematic oppression have certainly impacted our job prospects.

A lot of people, of all backgrounds, are dealing with reduced hours or complete loss of income. People are forced to work while sick due to not having PTO or health insurance and while this affects all Americans, our Black and brown communities are being hit the hardest.

It’s one thing to work a decently paying job with all the benefits, that lets you work at home, while having the ability to buy whatever resources you need, but still (understandably) stressing about being able to find food and supplies or how long you can continue to social distance before you start losing your mind.

It’s an entirely different ballgame when you have little to no benefits at a low paying job, your hours are reduced or extended to where you are absolutely exhausted and you not only have to worry about inventory issues but whether or not you could even afford what you need. To worry about the exposure risk of being in front of so many people all day and potentially bringing it home to your family. Knowing that if you or your loved ones get sick, it probably won’t end well since you don’t have health insurance. Even if you do have it, hospitals are probably soon to be overcrowded and staff will have to choose who gets help and their implicit biases may affect your chances. It’s very much a matter of life and death. 

As always, there is an imbalance of Black and brown bodies leading this charge, being forced to put themselves at risk and ultimately suffering the most severe of consequences.

And while I hope that this time is different, when the dust settles and things get back to normal, they’ll be the groups that are forgotten about and left to figure out how to put their lives back together, if history is any indication.

To all of you who are enduring, I see you. I hear you. I’ll do whatever I can to help and I THANK YOU.

janay

When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.

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