'We're Out Here Risking Our Lives So That They Can Eat': The Realities Of Being An Essential Worker During COVID-19

While many around the globe settle more and more into a life that involves working from home, there’s a certain group of people who aren’t: essential workers.

In the United States, the face of our essential workforce is overwhelmingly black with research showing that black folks are more likely to be considered essential workers than their racial and ethnic counterparts.


Three essential workers in Los Angeles open up about whether they’re receiving hazard pay or not, what working during the COVID-19 pandemic has been like for them, what they want their government officials to know and more in the video above.

Jessica Moulite is an award-winning Video Producer at The Root passionate about dismantling unjust societal power structures and all things Black culture. She's also probably watching “Living Single.”


kidelo (i have a tiktok)

I’m going to say thank you. THANK YOU.

I was in my local CVS the other day. It was second attempt at picking up a prescription. The first attempt was aborted when I saw the overcrowded parking lot and no line outside. I thought that was curious, but figured I’d come back after work.

It was the same in the evening. I masked up and went in and was shocked. The vibe was off, very tense. Customers were everywhere, all masked but no attempt was made at social distancing. I snaked my way back to the pharmacy in order to avoid people in the aisles, and stood on one of the 6' markers. People kept cutting by me very closely. I glared at them, but no one paid me any mind.

I wanted to complain. I started watching the CVS employees. All of them were stressed and on edge. I’m familiar with them since this has been my CVS for years now. Watching the pharmacy employees, I could see the toll it was taking on them.

When I picked up my meds, I asked about pulse oximeters, and they told me they were behind the front counter. I went to the front and watched there while I waited for assistance. Same story: no social distancing and tense and harried CVS employees. I thought, this is ridiculous. All of these POC have to be here and withstand these selfish people shopping and for what? I watched a Karen with an armload of vitamins. I watched a Chad with a cartload of flavored seltzer.

I’m taking myself out of the equation whenever I can. If I can do it via mail, then I’ll have it delivered. CVS offers that, so I’ll bite the bullet and wait the few extra days. No one should get PTSD from retail.