Unheard Voices of the Pandemic: New Booklet Shares Narratives of Injustice During COVID-19

Unheard Voices of the Pandemic narrators

The new Unheard Voices of the Pandemic booklet is out today! Order the book here.

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in early 2020, early media coverage characterized the disease as a “great equalizer.” As an oral history organization amplifying stories from historically marginalized communities, it was clear to Voice of Witness (VOW) that COVID-19 was only exacerbating existing inequities.

VOW narrators—individuals who share their oral histories—were being disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the accompanying crises of unemployment, housing and food insecurity, and inadequate health care. We worked with our narrators, editors, and grassroots partners in a collaborative process of gathering the stories of what was happening in communities, uncovering the many ways that the pandemic was acting as yet another vector for the spread of injustice. The response was tremendous: Narrators were eager to tell their stories, to be heard, to illuminate hard truths.

Unheard Voices of the Pandemic

Just released, Unheard Voices of the Pandemic reveals through personal narratives what happened the first year COVID-19 swept across the United States. The narrators were already among those who have been failed by US policy and the fraying social safety net during the best of times—people impacted by migration, displacement, incarceration, and other intersecting issues. These experiences were being left out of mainstream media coverage.

The seventeen first-person stories included in this booklet speak to the precarity, inequity, and uncertainty of that year, but also to bravery, solidarity, and generosity. 

In this booklet, you’ll hear from: 

  • Roberto, an undocumented farmworker in California’s Coachella Valley; 
  • Farida, a nurse and community organizer working in a Los Angeles COVID-19 ward; 
  • Shearod, a 52-year-old man incarcerated at Parnall Correctional Facility in Michigan; 
  • Emmanuel, a father of three who lost his job as a dental assistant in Puerto Rico; 
  • Soledad, a young immigrant from Honduras working as a housing case manager for foster youth in San Francisco;
  • And many more.

This booklet is a valuable new resource for educators and advocates looking to amplify personal narratives of the pandemic in classrooms or campaigns. Although the shadow cast by the COVID-19 pandemic is long, we hope the insights gleaned through deep listening will last longer. 

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