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Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
In the 1960s, organizers from the United Farm Workers needed a way to communicate across language barriers. They created the “unity clap”—a tradition that’s used by activists, community organizers, and labor movements to this day. It starts out slow, like a heartbeat, and picks up speed as more and more people join in, until everyone is clapping together. Most of the farm workers decades ago were Latinx and Filipino; many didn’t speak English—let alone each other’s languages. But all of them understood the meaning of the clap.
Every night recently, from my apartment in Manhattan, I can hear New Yorkers join in a unity clap of our own: a standing ovation for the doctors, nurses, first responders, custodians, cooks, and other health care workers who are risking their lives to save ours.
This crisis has exposed many cruel weaknesses in our medical, political, and economic systems. At the same time, it has generated a new and profound sense of solidarity. In the past few weeks, people around our city, our country and our world have gone to great lengths to support those around them.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.