COVID-19 took us by surprise. It made us reevaluate how we interacted with the world, what was essential, and what needed to change. It forced us to stay at home for several to many months, which affected Latinas in different ways. Some had to stop working, others kept working in dire and dangerous conditions. Some thrived and started online businesses.
Latinas who couldn’t work from home
Even though the world as we knew it came to a stop for COVID-19 and companies jump-started working remotely, that wasn’t the case for front-line workers. Their jobs need to be executed physically. For example, according to the Economic Policy Institute, over half of the domestic workers (52.4%) are Black, Latina, or Asian American/Pacific Islander women.
Most, to all, of their work, had to be done outside the safety of their homes, interacting with people and subjecting themselves and whoever was in their household to the deadly virus. For these Latinas, COVID-19 pushed their limits harder, with jobs that weren’t taking care of them or weren’t stable enough.
Latinas who dropped everything for their families
The mandatory lockdown pushed children to online schooling, which caused a big challenge for families, many of whom were already struggling with childcare. Adapting to a whole new style of learning and maneuvering remote teaching was a burden many working mothers couldn’t bear all on their own. Latina mothers noticed this shift and their children’s challenges, so some dropped their lifestyles and their jobs to take care of their children. As Susana Marquez, a Guatemalan-Salvadoran licensed marriage and family therapist, stated, “The expectation on Latina moms is that we take care of everything—it’s ingrained in us.”
For many Latina moms, helping their family thrive is one of the main focuses of their lives, and that’s the reality for Farida Mercedes. In an interview with NPR, she explained how hard it was for her to manage a full-time job and help her children. “My family needs me,” Mercedes said. “So I made the really hard decision to be home with them. And it’s exactly where I need to be.”
Of course, she wasn’t the only person to drop her job, or in other cases, to be laid off from work and stop searching for someone else to take care of their families. In fact, from March 2020 to March 2021, the number of Latinas in the workforce dropped by 2.74%, 336,000 Latinas of which were left unemployed.
Latins who thrived hustling
It’s not all bad news. Some Latinas were able to use their free time to work on their jobs and thrive. When lockdown started, the only things you could do were stay at home, try to save your mental and physical health, and keep yourself busy. So for Latinas, the mandatory stay-at-home measures created an opportunity to put their gears to work and start their business or, in some cases, change up how they managed their businesses.
Some, like Amaury Vidales, blossomed during the pandemic. She launched her Facebook page in 2019 to help pay her daughter’s college tuition and other expenses. Suddenly, her Facebook life pushed her to succeed as people searched for the comfort of activities before COVID-19.
Others had to forget their issues with social media and websites and pushed toward innovative and quick digital strategies to ensure the survival of their businesses. Like Kalima DeSuze, the founder of Café Con Libros, who sought help from her Latinx and Black peers to grow an impressive Instagram following and stayed afloat.
The pandemic has changed the global landscape forever, and though Latinas were hit severely, the community has once again proven resilient. Latinas did what was best for them, and did the best they could given the circumstances.
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