Voice of Witness is currently working on a new, rapid-response oral history project called Unheard Voices of the Pandemic, which aims to—through critical, humanizing first-person narratives—illuminate how marginalized communities are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
In the media, COVID-19 has been frequently described as a great equalizer, but the reality is that long-standing inequities have been further exacerbated. Voice of Witness narrator communities—individuals and families marginalized by this country’s carceral and immigration systems—have been hit particularly hard.
For the past ten years, so much of VOW’s work has been based on deep, in-person relationships—from our in-school support with underserved students to our oral history interviews and trainings in the field. Since in-person contact isn’t possible right now, we’ve been working with our communities to launch this online storytelling initiative.
As part of our new Unheard Voices of the Pandemic initiative, we are gathering interviews from people such as:
- Roberto – An undocumented farmworker for more than two decades in California’s Eastern Coachella Valley, Roberto harvests eggplant for $13/hour in over 100 degree temperatures. Roberto takes pride in feeding the nation and knows his work has always been “essential,” but COVID-19 has made already-difficult working conditions in the fields even harder. Roberto’s narrative is the first in the series and can be read in The Guardian.