Real Heroes Deserve a Real Act of Gratitude
How expensive thank you ads and empty words are not enough for our essential workers
Essential workers deserve so much more than what they're receiving. They deserve the world when they are only receiving dirt.
This pandemic has laid bare the failures of capitalism for the working class. For decades, if not centuries, the working class has been creating the wealth of the world; they manufacture the goods we consume, they clean our streets, they package our foods, they drive our buses, they maintain buildings and roads, they work tirelessly in hospitals. However, they have gone unnoticed and even been neglected or dismissed as "low skilled" workers.
The economy has almost come to a complete stop, except for essential businesses; the worth of the working class has become more apparent than ever. Everywhere we go, we are encouraged to thank our essential workers: we see ads calling them heroes. However, what have our heroes gotten for their life-saving labor?
At the beginning of the pandemic, many workers were at the front lines, not because they're heroes, but out of necessity. They were the ones who were, and are, the most vulnerable. For a long while, employers did not provide the most basic protections, like masks and gloves. Even now, many workers are still risking their lives with the bare minimum of protection to survive.
Our essential workers are not heroes; they're not superhumans that can withstand anything and everything. They are human beings who deserve fundamental rights such as health care, access to education, hazard pay, and sanitary protection against the virus. The hero narrative has portrayed our essential workers as indestructible. And instead of investing in them, the government chooses empty "thank yous." Essential workers, and the entirety of the working class, need real action that could change and even save their lives. The inaction of the United States' government will cost us millions of lives. Those lives are very likely to be people we know and love, if not our own.
I want to say thank you to our essential workers. Not just an empty thank you or an article that they might never read. I will thank them with the promise to fight for them while they keep on fighting for us. I promise that I will continue to organize with comrades and a socialist organization that will back us up. I promise to confront political leaders that have failed to provide coherent policies that would have protected us from the beginning. I promise that instead of empty claps, I will stand in solidarity with you when you demand what is rightfully yours.
Low wage workers are not the only ones taken for granted. There are also atrocities happening, like the massive layoff of City University of New York professors and staff in the middle of the pandemic. Even though they're invisible to the rest of the country and even the state of New York, we will need our educators to be in their best fighting form to help us recover. Teachers have been forgotten during this pandemic. They've made it their life mission to help their students. Our teachers are essential workers too. All workers are essential and deserve basic human rights.
Some people may argue that our government has provided certain relieves for its workers. However, that is not enough. Thousands of people are dying, and thousands more will die if we don’t make a significant change soon. Our elected officials should also be advocating for universal health care, rent cancelation, and $2000 a month until the pandemic is over. This will help keep the economy running and will allow working-class people to survive this pandemic.
When the government fails to do its job, as members of the working class, we should stand in solidarity with those who put their lives at risk. That is the act of gratitude our essential workers deserve.