Tuesday, April 10, 2007

March Just Posts

justpostmar2007
I thought it only fitting that I talked about the plight of migrant farmworkers in honor of Cesar Chavez. It's especially pressing on my mind recently after reading about the horrific conditions many farmworker families face daily while living in migrant farm worker camps. The LA Times recently did a story titled The Southland's Third World Slums, which chronicles the life in a migrant farm worker trailer camp in Coachella Valley. (I can't link the story because the LA Times charges a fee for non-subscribers, but if you want more information, email me.)
This is not a picture from the article.

This makeshift town on Reservation land (thus exempt from zoning laws) has over 500 hundred families living it with no running water, no electricity, no heat. They burn waste for heat which creates toxic fumes. They bathe and drink contaminated water. They sleep up to 30 deep in small trailers without running water or plumbing; kids often sleep outside on makeshift beds made of cardboard. The average income is $10,000 for a family of six. Children suffer high levels of pulmonary illnesses, coughs, infections and skin rashes.

The camp resides next to one of the most toxic dumps in the area, citing more than 20 times the national amounts of certain deadly toxins. The dump, like the camp, is on reservation land but the EPA pushed to get it closed and has been successful a number of times. The park and it's inhabitants have stayed open; it's not deemed as dangerous as the pollution being emitted by the dump. No doubt because that pollution can enter anyone's lungs, even us white folks driving by. The latino families who have nowhere to go aren't quite as lucky.

Sadly, this type of living environment is all too common. And America is not alone in this. Canada has also long cited an immigrant problem and have been accused of mistreating MFWs.

"Immigrants are choking welfare systems, contributing to high unemployment, and many cannot read."(Art Hanger, Canadian Press, February 2, 1994)

Picture and quote courtesy of J4MW, a volunteer driven Canadian NGO/activist group.

Some might say these folks are here illegally, they get what they get. But I can't subscribe to this because if they are living like this while working 12 hours or more a day then it must be a lot worse where they came from. I also can't subscribe to this because I have no idea what it truly means to be desperate; to not have clean water for M, to work so hard for so very little. And we all eat the fruits of their labors, casually tossing grapes in our mouths without thinking how they got to our table.

And now for the March Roundtable. Thank you to all of you for sitting around our fire and making me think.

The writers:
Alejna at Collecting Tokens with Finding My Voice
Alice at And She Wrote with Simple Justice and Small Change
Alpha Dogma with Seal Deal
Andrea at Little Bald Doctors with A Blogger of Substance
The Atavist with Walking Talk
Blog Antagonist with No Hablas Engles
Bon at Crib Chronicles with Real Moms
Chani at Thailand Gal with wear your love like heaven
Gwen at Woman on the Verge with Ours Goes to Eleven
Jen at One Plus Two with circle game, Do We Ever Really Know What Time it Is and Boy in a Box
Jess at Oh the Joys with Warmth
Jill at Not so Sage Wisdom with Engendered
Julie at The Ravin' Picture Maven with Must Read Posts related to the HPV Vaccine, Normalizing Disabilities: Is it Right and Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
KC at Where's My Cape with Blind or Need Blind and Thin parts 1, 2, 3, 4
Kyla at The Journey with Zen Shmen
Little Monkies with Insanity on Treadmill 29
Liv at Madness, Madness I Say with D-I-V-O-R-C-E
Mad Marriage with Is there No Justice and Lack of Justice in the College Admissions Process Magpie at Magpie Musing with Kristof Led Donations
Mary G at Them's My Sentiments with Blowin' in the Wind
Mary Murtz at Eleven with Part 3
Mother-Woman with Unsolicited Book Advice
Mouse at the Mouse's Nest with Global Warming Wednesday: Is it (Im)material?, BYOB (Bag that is), Bagging Plastic Bags, Cars
QT at Can we Kick the Bar Here with Any Soldier
Sandra at MommyBlogsToronto with Stop the "Eggs Stinking"
Slouching Mom with With Friends Like These Who Needs Enemies
Susanne at Creative Mother Thinking with March Just Post
Urban Urchin with Let Love Rule

The readers:
Alejna at Collecting Tokens
Bon at Crib Chronicles
BubandPie
Carrie at Third times a charm
Christina at fluttercrafts
Hel at Truth Cycles
Jen at One Plus Two
Jess at Oh the Joys
Jill at Not So Sage Wisdom
KC at Where's My Cape
Mad Hatter
Sandra at Sunshine Scribe
Susanne at Creative Mother Thinking

If you want to get on the mailing list for the Just Post Roundtables, drop me an email. We always have room for more. Speaking of, don't forget to check out Mad's end of the table.

Oh, and this just in: I've been nominated for this, which is supremely exciting. If you are so inclined, check it out.

104 comments:

Z said...

I had no idea that families lived like that in America. I don't know what to say.

QT said...

Thanks for the Just Post nod! Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

What a timely post, as this seems to be on the front burner for the 2008 elections.

I've been to these camps. In WA, the orchard owners wanted to put up pre-fab houses for the workers with running water, and the state wouldn't let them unless they met winter codes, even tho presumably no workers would be living there in the winter. So they continued to sleep in their cars if they had them, makeshift tents if not.

It a no win situation.

Lucia said...

Thanks for this post. It makes me think of what kind of society we are, that we allow this to happen to anyone, that this is what it takes for us to get cheap fruits and veggies to our tables.

(The posts you mentioned on the Just Post roundtable look fascinating. Do they all have links? I couldn't get to a number of them that I really wanted to read.)

deb said...

It's pretty hypocritical that we call them illegal immigrants but are quite willing to let them work for starvation wages so that we can have something a little cheaper.

All of us want something better for ourselves and our children, especially our children. We want to give them hope, a chance. Illegal immigrants are no different. Migrant farm workers are no different. We all want the same thing.

Little Monkies said...

I am just writing a short paper on this for a class on policymaking. Horrid, isn't it. We think a lot about the environment, we think a lot about animal welfare (ok, somewhat) but I don't think we think a lot about where those acres of food in our mega marts come from. We love our $.89/pound apples, don't we? The problem is that if you are poor in the US, you rely on low-cost food, but low-cost food comes at a terrible cost. What a vicious cycle...thanks for putting a lens on it.

And, thanks for the Just Post!

Mad Hatter said...

Yes, it seems so hypocritical for people to say that these people are illegal and sapping our resources when they are working to keep us in thoughtless luxury.

Do you know Woody Guthrie's song Deportees? I think is has a more formal name like "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos"? Guthrie wrote it which means that this problem is so long standing as to be an embarrassment to human rights.

jen said...

Lucia,
I had technological difficulties...try again now.

thanks

urban-urchin said...

Jen- This is so terrible. These mothers don't love their children less than we love ours. It's just that our circumstances are different and we can afford to heal our children. This breaks my heart.

metro mama said...

Hi Jen,

I wrote back to you in the Grindhouse comments, but I realize you probably won't see it there. Can you drop me a line? (I can't find your email).

Cheers,
Julie

mcewen said...

Great post. I read Grapes of Wrath in a different life time. I never thought then that I would be actually out here.....or that the same problems would still exist.
Best wishes

Penny. said...

Jen - this does happen in Canada.. I just read a story about a migrant Mexican working for well below minimum wage - 12 hour days, living in squalor and treated within barely an inch of decency laws, who spent the last six months paying back what his 'employers' paid to have him travel here.. he couldn't send money home, he couldn't go home (and he wanted to) and he had to send his wife (who got sick and wasn't entitled to health care) back home.

Making profits on the backs of these people disgusts me. The fact that our government allows them to come here, because of our work shortage, I think is fantastic, but they deserve equal pay to us and equal treatment and equal living conditions.

Oppression pisses me off.

And, it's everywhere. And those that complain about the state of the world wonder why, even as they are sitting on their hands or encouraging it's existance.. I'm sure I've been guilty of it somewhere - we are all guilty of it, in some way or another.. but, when our lands are hailed as lands of opportunity, I can't help but think about who the opportunists really are.

Fck. Lately, I'm just getting more and more pissed off. Anger is a motivating force, though, Jen. I wish Love was as motivating. It was supposed to be. But, if people enjoyed and invested it and lived for love, I suppose we wouldn't be where we are, in this mess, would we.

Keep writing, Jen. Don't ever stop.

Mrs. Chicky said...

So much to read, so much more to learn about.

Thank you.

Thailand Gal said...

Sometimes it is worse where they come from. Sometimes they just bought into the hype and are now stuck in some untenable circumstances.

At any rate, it's not acceptable in civilized society.


Peac,e

~Chani

cce said...

Thanks for opening my eyes to something happening right here in the states...this is embarrassing, deplorable. I'm at a loss and don't know if I can eat another grape.
Thanks for including me in the just post roundtable!

Cristi said...

Illegal mmigrants are the victims of the Mexican, U.S. (and other) governments who benefit economically while the families suffer. Like you said, "if they are living like this while working 12 hours or more a day then it must be a lot worse where they came from."

I teach two classes of ELL (English Language Learners), most of their familes are from a small town called Puebla outside of Mexico City and they are in this country illegally. I've heard MANY stories of how they "came over the border" and I cannot get the picture of Martin out of my head. He lifted up his shirt during school and said, "Mrs. L, here are the burn marks from the car. My mother tied me up under the car and it was burning me and I could barely breath." All I could say is, "Martin, please put your shirt down." And we continued to talk about minority representation in public office, but other stories came to light. They wanted to talk about their struggle. I let them. They gave me an education that day. Then I spent hours that night learning about immigration laws.

KC said...

Makeshift beds of cardboard for children? After just tucking mine in, I just can't fathom what that's like. I wonder who's taking care of them, medically, if anyone.

Thank you as always for making me think and for making us all care.

Beck said...

That's awful.

Blog Antagonist said...

I feel humbled to be in such company. So many wonderful things to read, and so many truly inspiring thoughts.

I live in a large city with a large population of immigrants. I see a lot of the issues you describe and it is truly heartbreaking and shameful.

flutter said...

I'm proud to know you.

Momish said...

I am going to seriously make the time to read these posts. Quite the challenge. As I said to Mad, that list is growing by leaps and bounds! Bravo!

crazymumma said...

I wish that there was a way I could plug in and have all this reading 'downloaded' while I went about my day. So many voices with so much conviction.

step by step.

I was watching/listening to an interview with David Suzuki yeterday (while I folded laundry of course). He was talking about his daughter being interviewed at the age of 12. The interviewer said to her "so it will be you, the youth who will have a chance to change the world". This 12 year old, daughter of a brilliant environmental activist thinker replied "is that your excuse to do nothing?"

It kicked me in my head. Because, I think that way sometimes, oftentimes, because I am busy, preoccupied, blind.

Anyway. Just sayin.

Julie Pippert said...

The ignorance about illegal immigrants astounds me.

I either cut myself off now or go off on a (equivalent of) 4 page rant. I'll do the former here, and work on the latter at my place.

Great post, as usual. Love the Just Posts. Thank you.

kim said...

The plight of immigrants and the character assassination put forth by the media and politicians makes me ill and tugs at my conscience. I'm not exactly sure how, but somehow I know that I will have to get involved .

ewe are here said...

I just read the LA Times article. Very depressing; thanks for bringing it to our attention.

And I don't think you have to pay to read it (I don't); you just have to become a 'member' of the LA Times site which is free...

Jocelyn said...

I love what you are and what you do.

Thanks for keeping my attention on what it should be on. (awkward phrasing there, but you know what I mean)

Denguy said...

"casually tossing grapes in our mouths without thinking how they got to our table"

I shop from a market hell-bent on selling local produce, which is important to me, but I've never considered the conditions on these farms.

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