This report analyzes how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economic aspect of the African American communities. A female and two males were interviewed on their lives during the pandemic, how it affected their employments, and how the economic strain resulting from the loss of jobs affected other aspects of their lives, such as trading various kinds of food. Each interview took 30 minutes, and the participants were given ample time to respond to the questions asked. The participants responded to follow-up inquiries to enable them to provide complete responses to the questions asked.
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The African Americans are mostly known for their hard work and resilience, especially in food production. However, during the pandemic, some of them faced a difficult situation, which broke their hearts. The usual jovial and talkative people were seen gloomy and desperate, especially when they lost their jobs where they sold foods or worked for food processing companies. For most black people, life is merry and involves doing what is right and refreshing, filled with music, art, dance, and religious beliefs. For this reason, most of the black communities were impacted in the peak periods of the pandemic. The people who used to wake up and work in firms no longer did as the streets and shops remained empty. To a greater extent, the pandemic made the black communities join and share their love with the rest of the American people by producing local foods and giving people hope in times of desperation. This made the American people more united than ever, realizing the times in which each America needed one another.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected different spheres of life, especially various economic factors such as food production. The Black Americans were hit the hardest due to the loss of jobs and other issues such as racism, which resulted in increased campaigns by the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Kocchar (2020), the unemployment rate rose from 3.8% at the beginning of the COVID-19 to 13.0% after three months. This number depicts what participant II reiterated about losing her job and had to depend on savings. This made it difficult for most people to survive during the peak periods of the disease. Participant I revealed that his wife was asked not to report to work where she worked as a cook for foreigners who enjoyed African cuisines. Most businesses sent their employees home as the number of visitors reduced; hence most hotels were closed (Kocchar, 2020). This affected most Afro-Americans, such as artists, dancers, cooks, farmers, and families.
The pandemic affected most of the African people working in stores or operated small food outlets. According to Achdut and Refaeli (2020), the COVID-19 pandemic caught most businesses unaware and did not have any backup plan regarding how to keep their workers on the payroll. Participant I revealed he was a chef in one of the local drive inns. When the pandemic hit and lockdowns were affected, most of these joints were closed, hence not making money, and the workers were asked to stay home. Participant III, who owns a hotel, revealed that the hospitality sector was hit the hardest as travel was restricted. This made most hotels close and send workers home, some without any monthly payment for upkeep. For instance, the entertainers in the hotels known for their cultural display lost their jobs temporarily.
The unemployment patterns observed during the COVID-19 onset were almost comparable to the one witnessed during the great recession between 2007 and 2009. In 2007, African Americans experienced an unemployment rate of 21% compared to 15.8% in 2020 (Kocchar, 2020). Participant II noted that she was getting into business as a supplier of eggs to a local store when the recession hit America. According to her, being asked to stay home in 2020 and spend from her savings reminded her of the difficult time she experienced in 2008. She noted that she was most depressed, especially because she was a single mother to two kids. Achdu and Refaeli (2020) reiterated the revelations by participant II that most people employed in non-corporate businesses, especially those supplying food products, are more depressed during economic recessions and widespread crises. However, participant II noted that she got back to work since the ease of restrictions and has since stopped worrying about losing her job.
Some African Americans experienced tough times when they could not get money to run their firms normally. According to participant I, her African American male friend was almost going into losses as the hotels he supplied with chicken did not order them as usual. Since most African Americans do not own homes and farming lands, the stress they experienced from the financial institutions they borrowed to fund their firms further made them experience difficult times during the pandemic. As a result, they thought it would result in them losing their sources of livelihood. Participant I revealed that although he did not experience the pain of thinking some of his assets would be taken by creditors, he knew those subjected to such experiences.
The economic strains that affected the black communities also impacted other aspects of life, such as family cohesion and spending patterns. Participant I revealed that he almost broke up with his girlfriend for failure to provide the basic needs such as food he could manage before the pandemic. The interviewee noted that his fiancée asked him not to leave their relationship even if times were challenging. That was a test of their relationship, making him feel less capable of providing for his family if he married. He noted that during the pandemic, his girlfriend provided some of the critical needs they used in the house, which to him was not expected. Several families broke because of the economic strains they faced as a result of the pandemic.
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The interviews conducted with the three African-American participants are crucial and reveal how African Americans are empowered economically through food production and how the pandemic affected their work. The idea that some American people depend on hands-to-mouth wages should be an event of the past. There is a need for collective empowerment to ensure that each person can remain sustained in times of crisis. Lessons have been learned from the COVID-19 and its effect on people’s lives and communities, especially those who work hard to supply food to other people. Both the government and the corporate world should have strategies to help shield their employees against economic problems. This can also be addressed by reducing the wide wage gap between different communities in America. The African-Americans working in the food production sector, whether as private suppliers or connected to the public sector should receive the necessary support at all times to ensure they overcome economic crises.
Achdut, N., & Refaeli, T. (2020). Unemployment and psychological distress among young people during the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychological resources and risk factors. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7163. Web.