( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Community Voices Heard Celebrates Women Essential Workers in Their Most Recent Article Titled “Our Sisters Stay Resilient”
ENSPIRE Contributor: Community Voices Heard
Community Voices Heard, the largest Black-led grassroots organizing institution in New York State, recently shared their newest monthly newsletter. In honor of Women’s History Month, their March article, titled “Our Sisters Stay Resilient,” honors the contributions of various women throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
“We are on the two-year anniversary of New York City shutting down because of COVID-19. In March 2020, we were told to stay home to stay safe. We had to socially distance, wear masks and wash our hands frequently. While much of the city and state was able to stay home, our brave essential workers continued to risk their lives every day on the front lines. Many of those who could stay home found themselves juggling a never-before-seen workload, trying to keep a sense of normalcy during unprecedented times. We know that women are often the center of their families, steering and guiding their loved ones. Over the last two years, women have led the way to recovery.
Healthcare heroes saw a lot over the last two years. Many of our sisters have worked back-to-back shifts because of short staffing. They pushed past their own fears to help save patients’ lives. They selflessly gave so much – and without the protective equipment needed to keep them safe from an unprecedented airborne pandemic.
During the height of the pandemic, and the subsequent variants, they esteemed others above themselves and continued to provide dedicated care.
Our sister educators were forced to transition to remote instruction over the course of a weekend. These dedicated professionals went from teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and everything in between in-person, to trying to hold the attention of students on mobile devices. We know that COVID laid bare so many disparities, including home life, resources, etc. For many students, the school wasn’t just a place of learning, but where they also received their main meal of the day. For many of these essential educators, COVID gave a new meaning to on-the-job training, and they did it with patience and grace.
During the height of the pandemic, one of my favorite activities was grocery shopping. It gave me an opportunity to get out of the house and cautiously interact with others. Lines were long, and undoubtedly certain items were typically sold out, but going to the grocery store helped to break the monotony of staying home and socially distancing. When I think about the early days of the pandemic, I will forever value the exchanges I had with the cashiers at the grocery store. Deemed essential themselves, these brave women who I knew prior to the pandemic, were tasked with interacting with the public – scanning and bagging groceries, taking money, all while dealing with the very real fear that a single interaction could be a death sentence for themselves or their loved ones. Once warm smiles were replaced with masks sitting below eyes heavy with concern. “Have a great day” was replaced with “Be well” and “Stay safe.”
In addition to serving as the two-year mark of the COVID pandemic, March is also Women’s History Month. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias.” Women of color have stepped up to lead the way, and serve as a source of strength and stability during one of the most difficult times any of us have seen. The strength and resilience of these women – mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, grandmothers, aunts, and others – was on full display.
What COVID showed is that selfless leadership is second nature to so many women. We don’t do it for accolades or applause – we do it because we care and because we are needed. This is how we lead, and it’s how we continue to Break the Bias.”