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Minority Essential Workers Protest Racial Disparities During Pandemic

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Nursing assistant Margalie Williams was off her feet for most of the spring. She contracted COVID-19 while caring for senior citizens.

“March, I have it -- and I take care of myself, and now I’m back,” Williams said. She’s an example of what many minorities in the health care field are facing — jobs that put them at a higher risk.

“No, I wasn’t frightened," she said. "Well, God sent me here for a reason ... I been through a lot — cancer, stroke — I know I can beat corona."

On Monday, other minorities providing health care at assisted living facilities and nursing homes drove in a caravan to care locations in North Miami-Dade and Broward County.

This group says that Black and Hispanic people have the lion’s share of these jobs at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, saying they could use better and more protective personal equipment. The workers also say while other employees are able to work from home, they don’t have that choice.

Hospitality workers say the same thing. A group of them knelt in front of Miami Beach City Hall Monday for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the time George Floyd had a police officer kneeling on his neck.  

“A lot of our workers have been out of work for 15 weeks and haven’t received a dollar in unemployment — like nothing," said union vice president Kandiz Lamb with Unite Here. "So people are desperate right now ... We represent hospitality workers and a lot of our workers have lost their health insurance during the pandemic ... We feel like our workers have a knee on their neck, not just from the hospitality employers, but also from the governor.”

The workers say this is an example of how the Black Lives Matter movement cuts across the board and is more than about minorities and their interactions with police.

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