Tres Años Después: An Overview

Our community plática aimed to describe how the Pandemic has uniquely affected the Latinx community, and how we can turn data into action.

This community event was the first in a series of workshops co-sponsored by the US Covid Atlas, a project of the Healthy Regions & Policies Lab (HEROP). The goal of the workshops is to connect with communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, share resources, and talk about how we can translate data to action more effectively.

After much anticipation it was finally time for our community plática: Tres Años Después. The event was kicked off by Aresha Martinez-Cardoso, Co-PI of the US Covid Atlas and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. The attendees, who were all from the United States, were invited to share where they were from and what kind of work they did.  A few states represented were Illinois, Texas and Colorado. For those who participated in the work poll, about half worked in community or non-profit organizations and half were in research.

The event was held in English with the option to listen in Spanish. Live translators, Ada and Susana from Mijente, communicated the importance of language justice in webinars. A message that gets translated from English to Spanish can lose meaning due to the fact that Spanish is longer. Speakers were reminded to be considerate of Spanish speaking folks and the translators. 

Keynote speaker, Jacinta Gonzalez from Mijente, a powerful organizing hub for Latinx and Chicanx rights, opened up the conversation about community work. We are faced with the question of what community organization means in a post pandemic world. We have the opportunity to use what we’ve learned from the pandemic to progress and gain non-traditional power. For Mijente this means drawing from the Pobladores de Lucha movement in Chile, which builds power within, against and without the state. In terms of COVID there was a huge movement in organization without the state. The Latinx community came together for undocumented folks and Latinx communities in food deserts and red states. Mijente and other activist groups used the power of in person organization to help these communities. This was also a way to tackle misinformation that is common in Latinx communities due the circulation of unreliable news from the U.S. and abroad. Furthermore, the Pandemic reinforced that we can and should bridge the gap between qualitative and quantitative data to provide a holistic overview of it. For researchers that means looking at stories, for organizers that means looking at the numbers. Mijente found that this can build power. 

Next, UIUC’s Marynia Kolak demonstrated how we can use the US COVID Atlas to create a holistic and humanistic archive of the Pandemic. The Atlas integrates data related to COVID outcomes, health systems infrastructure, social, economic, & environmental aspects with other insights. Thematic mapping (known as choropleth maps) using the Atlas toolkit can create a personalized experience for those seeking results that go beyond traditional mapping. Users can explore a variable like, % fully vaccinated at different temporal and spatial scales, with an overlay to highlight Latinx communities. We can get insight into what actually happened in those communities through the Stories feature. 

Next it was time for our panelists to explore how their organizations fought through the pandemic within, against and without the state. Jenifer Garcia Mendoza from United We Dream, focuses on connecting immigrant communities to healers. Francisca Porchas Coronado from Latinx Therapists Action Network focuses on radicalizing mental health practitioners to fit the needs of the Latinx community. Germán Cadenas from the Latinx Immigrant Health Alliance and Lehigh University focuses on the psychology of immigration, exploring how immigrant communities are affected by these circumstances.

Below, we highlight some questions and lessons learned from the panel:

How has loss impacted the Latinx community?

Frankly, the pandemic added to the Latinx community’s allostatic stress load. Set systems of oppression have affected Latinx peoples for generations. These cumulative effects were highlighted by the Pandemic; life expectancy for Latinx population decreased by 3 years. 

Where did we go wrong — we had the data, but why wasn’t action taken? 

Data and action must be looked at in terms of its context. There are issues of congressional power and the structural limitations that still need to be overcome for important data to be put into action. 

What were the motives behind the Latino Immigrant Health Alliance & United We Dream collaboration?

The collaboration was built out of necessity. While quantitative research methods were implemented, it was special in the sense that collaborators were organizers and healers seeking to create mental health training for health practitioners, not researchers with a different agenda. Their training reached over 1,500 health providers. 

“There have been many pandemics in our community…the pandemic of colonization , the pandemic of slavery, the pandemic of violation of sovereignty of indigenous lands. And we’ve seen communities been able to rise and thrive…”

Francisca Porchas Coronado from Latinx Therapists Action Network

Finally, Mandela Gadri, UIUC PhD student & Atlas team member, invited everyone to submit a Story about their Pandemic experience on the Atlas to share with future generations. Stories can be submitted as a video or audio (recorded within the Stories platform), written document, photograph/image, or through a phone call. (The first 50 accepted videos submissions will get $20 as an Amazon gift card. In the case your submission is selected by the documentary team we are working with, you will be provided $50 to be interviewed.) Also, anyone who uses the US COVID Atlas, is based in the US, and is over 18 is invited to fill out the Atlas Survey; completed, validated responses will get a $20 Amazon gift card. 

The HEROP Lab would like to recognize that the data and resources compiled on the US COVID Atlas and the presentations have been years in the making thanks to work from folks in research, healthcare, community organization, non-profit work and more. We would also like to thank all the amazing speakers and panelists for their time and contributions to our event. The work that their respective organizations do should be recognized for their efforts to turn data into impactful resources, build solidarity and connect with communities in times of uncertainty.

Workshop Resources:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: