Las Vegas Sun

June 12, 2021

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Racial injustice has long reach

The killing of George Floyd has provoked an overdue discussion about the rampant racism throughout our society and incited nationwide protests against unjustified police violence. While I agree that the policing industry plays a significant role in perpetuating racism, I worry that, in these important conversations about racial injustice, we’ve failed to adequately address an important way in which we participate in racial injustice.

Most of us regularly eat meat, despite the fact that meatpacking facilities are major coronavirus hotspots. As of July 8, at least 32,630 meatpacking workers had tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 123 meatpacking workers had died from the coronavirus. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87% of meatpacking employees infected are low-income racial and ethnic minorities, who are economically pressured to work in the midst of virus hotspots.

Whistleblowers report that coronavirus outbreaks in meatpacking facilities are due to inadequate implementation of safety measures. Workers are confined to cramped and crowded work areas, break areas, bathrooms and hallways. They are threatened with loss of their jobs if they speak publicly about their working conditions, and are told to work even if they are sick.

Why, then, is there little outrage directed at meat facilities that jeopardize their employees, who are disproportionately Black, Latino and/or immigrants?

Given the variety of plant-based options, meat is not essential. And when we purchase it, we support an industry that devalues the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. Please don’t choose complicity in racial injustice.