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Bottle Recycling Facility: It Takes a Toll

Burroughs Lamar | New York, United States


On this election day, November 3rd, 2020, voters would decide who would lead this U.S. nation for the next four years determined who had the most to gain or to lose through either of their polices. It is laborers like these, who work in this recycling sorting facility. They were a mix of undocumented immigrants and poor blacks, who are underemployed and lacked health insurance, that were the most affected.. First, they hauled huge bags of plastic bottles from the truck into the facility. Second, they lugged bags of glass bottles into heavy bins, meant subjecting themselves to possible COVID-19 virus exposure, cuts and infection, even though they wore gloves and masks. Furthermore, the overwhelming odor of alcohol reeked, with the added burden to bend repeatedly over the bins to rip them open, soringt by color. Worse, the cascade of bottles reverberating in those bins was earsplitting.It is one thing to be a laborer, and then there is the indignity to ply one’s effort on a city street.Their back-breaking toil, even for this chronicler, won my sympathy. Biden better win for their sake.

Burroughs Lamar is a self-taught documentary photographer.His serious photography began in 2008, through his ongoing project documenting African American life in his native born Harlem community in the context of gentrification.His interest in the human condition arises from his career in behavioral health, specifically forensic psychiatry, working with his clients, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Social Workers in the treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

With an acute understanding of mental disorders, most occur genetically, other factors include substance use, but most relevant to his photography, through life stressors.Community activism, social protests provide people with a valve to release tension and gain a sense of empowerment against forces of oppression.

In my approach to their Supervisor to gain permission, they clustered about, pining and interest in my conversation, eying me warily.I heard someone say “ICE” with the suspicion I was an agent posing as a photographer. I explained I was an independent documentary photographer, putting a face to New York City’s invisible workers, which assuaged this concern.

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