The nightly seven o’clock clap for essential workers in New York City feels hypocritical to me. I understand it’s an offering of solidarity and empathy, but a gesture is not enough. In this city, about 75 percent of front-line workers—grocery clerks, bus and train operators, janitors, food delivery people, child care staff—are minorities. They still can’t get approved for a loan to buy property in the neighborhoods they serve or want to live in. They can’t find nutritious food on their blocks. They can’t access quality healthcare. The world they live in is unimaginable to many of those clapping from their homes every night.
The parts of New York hardest hit by the pandemic are overwhelmingly lower-income communities of