Chicanx/Latinx Heritage Month is already in full swing. While many Chicanx and Latinx agree their heritages should always be commemorated and respected, as we look to the future, let’s not forget the sacrifices and experiences of the last 18 months.
Many Chicanx and Latinx communities are still dealing with the struggles of the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 has taken a big toll on their personal and professional lives. They have lost loved ones. They have become full-time caregivers for elders and/or balance their time between taking care of younger family members and work. Others continue to deal with this pandemic in the solitude of their homes, but keep in touch with family members and loved ones in the diaspora until it is safe to see each other again.
Chicanx and Latinx communities are experiencing unprecedented and disproportionate negative impacts to health and finances. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Latinx indicate that a loved one or someone they know had contracted COVID-19 and was either seriously ill or had died from the virus. Forty-nine percent of Latinx in the study said that they or someone in their household has lost a job or took a pay cut since the pandemic began.
On our campuses, we are also observing how this pandemic continues to affect Chicanx and Latinx faculty, their families and communities. Faculty are returning to campus situations where repopulation plans and protocols are rolling out quickly, and, in some cases, being constantly revised due to poor planning. Face mask enforcement is falling on the shoulders of faculty, and teaching modality plans and options are not always clear on some campuses.
“While we do want to teach our students, we also want to return to campus when our rights to a safe and healthy work environment are respected without risking our health, the health of our immunocompromised faculty members, the health of our children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated, and that of our elders,” said Michelle Ramos Pellicia, co-chair of CFA’s Chicanx/Latinx Caucus. “We believe that student learning conditions are faculty working conditions.”
As CFA members, we demand Rights, Respect and Justice/ Derechos, Respeto, Justicia during negotiations with the CSU for a new contract. We deserve respect for our swift response to the need to rapidly move instruction and service delivery online during the pandemic. CFA’s salary proposal, effective retroactively to July 1, 2020, and the equity program to address inversion and compression, will address our extraordinary work and dedication to our students. The different components of our bargaining proposals, e.g. parental leave, exceptional service, course caps, academic freedom, and workloads are evidence of our work as an anti-racist, social justice union and a reflection of our Anti-Racism and Social Justice Demands.
“As we celebrate Chicanx/Latinx Heritage month, we ask our fellow CFA members and faculty colleagues: how are all these issues playing out on your campuses?” said Patricia D. Lopez, co-chair of CFA’s Chicanx/Latinx Caucus. “And more importantly, what are you doing to hold yourself and others accountable to our anti-racist and social justice work?”
Together, we are demanding systemic change and an end to structural racism in the CSU, higher education, and our society. Together, we work for a CSU system that is more inclusive, socially just, and where all cultures, experiences, and perspectives are respected and valued.
This Chicanx/Latinx Heritage month (celebrated September 15 to October 15), we demand justice, and the respect of our rights and our dignity. ¡Derechos, Respeto, Justicia!