July 17, 2020
The COVID-19 public health crisis has ravaged Latino/a communities throughout the U.S. with an impact disproportionate to other groups. A construction worker in Arizona said he never stops working – even in a pandemic. A surgeon in South Texas, who recovered from the virus in April, wistfully noted many people don’t understand the severity of this illness. A New Jersey woman said she personally knows at least 20 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. The head of a nonprofit in Omaha says he is heartened at the community stepping up to help his food giveaway program. These are just a few of the stories we have recorded as part of the Voces of a Pandemic project this summer.
Voces of a Pandemic is a partnership among institutions across the country, dedicated to recording, preserving and disseminating the unique perspectives of Latinos/as during this crisis. Latinos have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus for several reasons: Many are “essential workers” who are required to go to work (some without protective equipment) and face potential exposure to the virus. Others lack health care. Some have lost their jobs, introducing still more uncertainty into their lives. And some suffer from pre-existing health conditions, sometimes as a result of poverty and inequality, which put them at greater risk. Thousands are also undocumented, compounding their vulnerability.
Interviews are being conducted via Zoom by a small group of interviewers affiliated with the seven partner institutions:
Northern Illinois University, Center for Latino and Latin American Studies (DeKalb)
Christina Abreu, director
Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Silvia Álvarez Curbelo, historian
University of Nebraska at Omaha, Office of Latino/Latin American Studies
Cristián Doña-Reveco, director
University of California, Los Angeles, Labor Studies
Virginia Espino, lecturer
Rutgers University, The Latino New Jersey History Project (New Brunswick, New Jersey)
Lilia Fernandez, director
University of North Texas, Oral History Program (Denton)
Todd Moye, director
University of Texas at Austin, Voces Oral History Center (lead institution)
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, director
An online project
All interviews and data gathering are conducted online. All interviews are posted on YouTube as they await complete processing. Completely processed interviews will be posted on the Voces Oral History Center website. Partner institutions retain ownership and rights to interviews conducted by their affiliated interviewers.
Researchers will produce articles and other research reports based on the interviews, including some essays to be submitted to the peer-reviewed US Latina & Latino Oral History Journal (published by the University of Texas Press). Researchers, journalists and the general public are encouraged to view the interviews and use them in their own work.
Voces of a Pandemic is an ongoing project and needs your help. If you wish to become an institutional partner, a volunteer interviewer, or a volunteer transcript editor, please contact email@example.com for more information. To donate, please go to isupportvoces.org.
Dr. Maggie Rivas Rodriguez