New York can’t survive without the hard work of thousands of so-called essential workers. We wanted to put a face to their sacrifice during this pandemic.
Photos by Beatriz Ramos | Text by Yehudit Mam
From keeping our streets and homes disinfected to delivering the food we eat and maintaining order during this crisis. We wanted to put a face to the thousands of men and women risking their lives to keep our society functional every day. Needless to say, a lot of them are Latinos.
Abdul is stationed on 5th Avenue, well protected and keeping the peace. He lives in Manhattan.
We didn’t get his name. He seemed to be all by himself with all those packages. We are about to realize the limits of unlimited convenience.
Charlie lives in East Harlem. He is disinfecting a building all the way to the East Village. Obviously, they are taking no chances. The protective gear changes from workplace to workplace.
Mario lives in Brooklyn, but here he is delivering pizza for a joint on 34th Street. He is super essential. He’s Super Mario.
Nilsa is a School Traffic Officer. She’s sent to work even though all schools are closed and everyone is home. She lives in the Lower East Side.
How many unsung people are keeping things running smoothly for us? Oscar works in infrastructure for utilities. He lives in Long Island.
Keira is holding the fort at the Bryant Park subway station. Approached outside her booth, she said: “please don’t get close to me”. She was nice but visibly anxious. She lives in Westchester.
Neither snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of night. Danika cheerfully delivers mail on a sunny morning. Meanwhile, the USPS is getting $25 billion in relief funds to avoid its collapse by June.
Kerri continues to clean the streets of Times Square even though there are not thousands of daily tourists on sight— as usual.
Manuel works for a concrete pumping company. He doesn’t speak English. Construction has been declared essential work in New York.
These are some of the people who keep New York humming. Some of the most essential workers are some of the most vulnerable. Their dignity is striking.
¡Muchas gracias a todos y todas por su dedicación! Please stay safe. You are essential people too.
Beatriz is an artist, a technologist, and the creator of DADA.art. She founded Dancing Diablo, an Emmy-winning studio in New York. She has directed over a hundred videos for the biggest brands in the world. Early in her career Beatriz illustrated for the New York Times and worked at Disney and MTV.
is the Cofounder of dada.art. She is a Creative Director in advertising and a writer. Her writing has appeared in Saveur.com. Out.com, Fusion.tv, Reforma, La Jornada Semanal. She currently writes about film in her blog I've Had It With Hollywood. She is a Mexican New Yorker since 1992.