Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) announced this week “Latinos Are Essential,” a collection of short films about essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The insightful films highlight the value of each worker, some still against a backdrop of stigma.
Latinos have been on the pandemic’s frontlines for months providing services to and for many Americans — where these essential workers are at a greater risk of contracting the virus. According to the CDC, close to a quarter of the COVID-19 deaths to date have been Latinos, and hospitalization rates for Latinos are 4.6 times the rate for whites.
Profiles of DREAMers such as Anel Medina, who is one of 200,000 DACA recipients classified as an essential worker and still feels left in the shadows, to Dulce Bueno, an EMT who is against the rising stats of suicide among EMTs — 4 to 10% higher than the general population and has increased since the pandemic.
Ramon Villa-Hernandez’s film “El Paso Está Presente” features Monica Navarro who works at the Cielo Vista Walmart, the site of the 2019 shooting which left 23 dead and is the deadliest attack on the Latinx community in recent U.S. history. Despite the pain caused by the attack, she considers the pandemic a “test,” expressing it is up to all of us to take care and respect one another.
Yvan Iturriaga and María José Calderón share Oakland’s Pancho Pescador, a self-taught Chilean artist and teacher who brings magic to the streets, preaching that “art is a weapon and also [the] medicine.”
“While this year has been devastating, it has also given us a chance to reflect on all the work that our community does to keep Americans safe, fed and comfortable,” says Sandie Viquez Pedlow, LPB Executive Director. “We wanted to honor these extraordinary people while also providing emerging Latinx filmmakers with work, empowering them to tell the stories of essential workers in their communities. These short films provide a glimpse into the lives of people often unseen but so deserving of our recognition and gratitude.”
“PBS Digital Studios is excited to partner with Latino Public Broadcasting to bring ‘Latinos Are Essential’ to the PBS Voices YouTube Channel,” said Brandon Arolfo, Head of PBS Digital Studios. “The channel’s mission is to document our shared human journey and we are proud to use our platform to shine a spotlight on the essential workers who are at the heart of this country.”
In addition, PBS and LPB invite the public to contribute to the project by creating their own essential worker portraits and posting them on social media using the hashtags #Esenciales and #LatinosAreEssential.
Stream on the Latino Public Broadcasting channel, or on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV and Chromecast.
The episodes will also be available on PBS Voices, a YouTube channel from PBS Digital Studios that aims to explore what unites us through short-form documentaries.
Essential worker resources may be found here.