Saturday, July 4, 2009

Message to ANTIs on July 4th: Never ASSUME Latino Workers are "Illeeegals!"

In high school, one of my instructors often said, "Never ASSUME." She referenced the spelling of the word and said, "It makes an A-S-S out of U and ME." So many people ASS-U-ME, especially during Immigration discussions.

Take for example Latino workers performing AgJobs or Construction work. Many people ASSUME these workers are "illeegals." In fact, with all of the hyped up rhetoric promoted by the likes of Dobbs, Beck, Hannity and Savage, extremist ANTIs believe most Latinos they see are "illeeeegals." This ASSUMPTION is just NOT True! We have over 50M American Citizen Latinos living and working in our country today. (Beyond these assumptions, calling human beings "illeegal" and treating them as less than human is wrong!)

As many of my long time readers know, my citizen family has lived in the USA over 200 years. During the depression in the mid 1930s through the early 1940s, my father worked for the State of Michigan/Farm Bureaus transporting workers from Texas to Michigan to harvest crops. He also worked the fields and supervised the workers. All of the workers he transported were Latinos from Texas, they were not from Mexico. San Antonio served as a hub for many Latino workers, almost like today's Day Labor sites. Entire families of workers travelled to Michigan and throughout the mid-west. Even today, some people call San Antonio the Latino capital of America.

My father started working for an auto factory in the 1940s and moved our family to Michigan. By the time I came along in the 1950s, we kids went to school from September through June. Then, in mid-June, our cousins from Texas caravaned up to Michigan to pick strawberries and cherries. We joined the caravan up to the Traverse City area. My dad felt strongly that we join them because he wanted to instill in us a very strong work ethic. My dad often referenced the old quotation: "Idle hands are the devil's playground."

Though picking crops is a difficult job, it is quite profitable if you have a hard working family all working. My mother was our foreman. She woke up at 6am, made us egg/bean tacos for breakfast and packed our lunches, this time bean or spam tacos and a cooler filled with jugs of water and kool-aid. Each morning, the farm owner assigned each family one or two rows of cherry trees, depending on the size of the family. Our job was to clean each tree in our rows. Each of us had a large bucket. We had a suspender like backbrace on our backs and we clamped the bucket to the front of the brace so both hands were free to pick cherries. It took 2 big buckets to fill a lug. The lugs were stacked at every 5th tree. That made it easier for the farm owner to drive by and pick up the lugs. He picked up the lugs and placed them on a long, flat trailer bed which he pulled with his tractor. For each lug, my mother received a ticket worth 50 cents. My brothers picked the most lugs a day. This was on purpose. My mother sent them to the lower and mid portions of the trees with the highest density of cherries. My four brothers were strong and fast and averaged about 25 lugs per day. My two older sisters followed my brothers and semi-cleaned the trees behind them. My mother and I followed them. I climbed to the tip top of the trees and my mother did the final cleanup of each tree. There were eight of us, 7 kids and my mom. We averaged about 150 lugs a day. We worked Monday through Friday from 7am to 6pm and on Saturday from 7am to noon. We averaged about 800 lugs a week, which was about $400, lots of money back then. My mother paid my brothers the most, ranging between $25 - $30 a week, based on their numbers. My sisters earned about $20. I received $10. This was big money for all of us and we appreciated every cent. We usually spent most of it over the weekend when we went into town. We went to the soda fountain and to the movies. We went to the local stores to buy records and brought them back to the camp for the Saturday night dances. My mother bought groceries for the week, usually spending about $50. And she saved the rest and gave it to my dad. My dad continued working in the factory in Lansing and only came up to Traverse City every other weekend. We stayed in camp from mid June to the end of July. Other migrant families went on to other crops, which were harvested later in the year in lower Michigan. These crops included cucumbers and onions. There was a huge pickle factory in Eaton Rapids and many families went there.

I loved the camaraderie in the camps. After work, we spent a great deal of time together playing sports or having camp dances. The locals provided us workers a separate section of the lake for swimming and a separate Sunday Mass at the Catholic church. Though we were all citizens and they were separating us due to our ethnicity, we didn't view this as racist at the time. It just was how things were then. The locals separated us out and we just kept to the places and spaces provided.

My father always made sure we stayed at a nice camp where the owner provided clean living quarters, showers and bathrooms for the workers. There were some owners that only cared about profit and only provided tents for the workers. The owner at our camp was compassionate for the people although he did keep us at arm's length, not allowing his children to play with the children in the camp.

All of us were citizens, most from Texas. We were all hard working people looking to succeed in life. We were all happy to live in America.


Vicente Duque said...

This is an extraordinary beautiful story. I hope that you did not eat too many cherries and strawberries to make you sick.

I can imagine the strong spirit of a team in your family. And the happiness of spending good money earned with your own hands and sweat.

About this phrase in your article :

The owner at our camp was compassionate for the people although he did keep us at arm's length, not allowing his children to play with the children in the camp.

Life constantly goes up and down. I imagine that probably "Dee from Texas" is better established in Life and Business now than those children that were not allowed to play with your brothers and sisters.

They could have learned a lot of good things from you, and make friends for life. But they were only taught discrimination and pride from their parents.

You have every reason to feel happiness and gladness in the "remembrance of things past" and the beautiful old days of cherries, strawberries and a lot of Summer Sun.

I guess that the Fourth of July can also be the day to celebrate those "Little" stories of Family Union, Family Love and Heroism in Working Together when not being the "Nobility" ....

Vicente Duque

Vicente Duque said...

Associated Press Analysis: GOP struggles for anti-Sotomayor message - Republicans floundering in efforts to trip up Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court


Julie Hirschfeld Davis has covered Congress and the White House for 11 years.

Some excerpts :

WASHINGTON (AP) — A week before her Senate hearings, Republicans are floundering in their efforts to trip up Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, unable to find an effective message about why she's not fit to serve.

Blame the tricky politics of opposing the woman who would be the first Hispanic justice, especially for a party struggling to broaden its base and whose chief spokesman on Sotomayor has a troubled history of racism allegations.

Add to that the mathematical impossibility of Republicans' rejecting President Barack Obama's first high court nominee, and it's a recipe for a weak-kneed response.

Conservative activists have noticed, and they're not happy.

"Too many Republicans and conservatives planned to lose instead of planning to win" the debate over Sotomayor, said Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch. His group has mounted strong opposition to the federal appeals court judge.

About half the Senate's Republicans are willing to raise serious questions about Sotomayor and there's "a sizable minority who — partly because she's Hispanic — just want this to go away," said Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice.

Vicente Duque

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I worked in the strawberry fields for a nickel a quart, stacked hay for the neighbor, suckered tobacco, babysat, etc. There was always work to do if you wanted it. Farms were all around and always hiring but the farms were small, mostly dairy, and I don't remember any migrant workers. There were no minorities at all. Everybody was white, Norwegian, German, Swedish.

Everybody had a "hired" somebody when I was little in the 50's. A "hired man" to help with chores. A "hired girl" to iron and clean and babysit. And the funny thing was, there was a "hired" pecking order. My mother had a "hired girl" when we were little so she could work for this rich lady as a "hired girl" cleaning her house. Needless to say, my mom's "hired girl" didn't make much money. Mom was lucky. Not only did she get paid pretty well but the rich lady also gave her her clothes she was tired of and little things for the house...beautiful clothes. I still remember her name - Mrs. Coppelberger. I couldn't imagine being that rich.

That was the way life was in southwestern Wisconsin about the same time Dee was growing up.

Dee said...


I don't know if you were color blind to all of the migrant laborers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, or if your mother kept you sheltered as the farmowners tried to keep their children sheltered from the minority workers.

Migrant workers worked hard throughout the crop picking seasons harvesting the crops and helping America's farmbelt prosper for decades, beginning in the early part of the 20th century through to today.

I remember the little girls like you who came out on a Saturday to pick a little pint, as we migrant children worked from 7am to 6pm each weekday and on Saturday too.

I feel sad for you Jools, that you choose not to recognize the many contributions of all of the hard working migrants.

Will it take a bibliography to validate it for you? So sad you choose to be a denier of all the hard working migrants.

Dee said...


I actually called the farm owner's daughter 2 years ago.

I remember 1962. We were both the same age. Though her family tried to keep her sheltered and away from the migrant children, she often disregarded her parents and came out to play with us.

We played kickball and softball in the big fields behind her house after the workday was done.

She was a tomboy like I was. We were as good athletes as the boys our age were.

When we talked, she remembered those days.

She asked how I was doing. I shared with her my father's focus on insisting we complete our educations and secure a good career. How I was a business woman today and now a grandmother.

She lamented she did not listen to her own parents. She left school and continues to work in a restaurant.

She said her brother took over her dad's orchard/farm and is running the business.

She sounded sad as we talked. I was excited to talk with her, anxious to share memories and life experiences. She sounded sad in a way, over opportunities lost in her own life.

While I wanted to talk to her as equals of the same age who were childhood friends, she was more into talking about owners versus the mexicans who still came up to work her brother's farm and how she helps them.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I think you totally misread my post. I was simply sharing with you my experiences. Believe me, I wasn't sheltered and I didn't pick just a pint. We worked hard. We had to - there was no money otherwise. As I told you the farms were small dairy farms and even the tobacco fields were small because there was a size allotment for them. People grew crops to feed their own animals and sold their produce and milk to the local dairies and grocery stores. Del Monte never came calling.

I recognize the hard work of migrant workers cause hard work was a part of every day life for me too. The difference is we didn't travel to work and we lived in the comfort of our own home, modest as it was, obviously an advantage we had that you did not have.

And, the fact is, there were no minorities of any kind to be "sheltered from" as you put it. To this day there are no migrant workers in the area I lived in. There simply are no farms big enough to hire migrant workers.

I guess the experiences of others are not welcome here unless the "others" are a minority.

Dee said...

On the contrary. All are certainly welcome to share their perspective. However, your statement of not remembering ANY migrant workers or any minorities or anyone non-white during your entire childhood seems incredible.

It is both an interesting statement and a curious one especially since the 1930s migrant workers have been travelling across country, particularly the midwest, to farms and to small country towns to harvest crops.

How old were you when you first saw a minority? Did they surprise you? What did you think of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s? Was it acceptable to you?

Just curious.

Dee said...

When I recorded my Aunt's verbal history, she shared that during her early marriage, she and my uncle and their young children travelled the entire year as migrant laborers. They did this for years. She said they travelled in a caravan with other workers and travelled from crop to crop across the country. They picked cotton. They picked tobacco. They picked fruit and vegetables. It varied, based on the season. In the winter months, they were helpers on a farm/ranch in Arizona. She said of all the jobs, picking cotton was the most difficult and trecherous since workers were often hurt on the job.

When she spoke of this I couldn't help but think of the slaves who spent their entire lives in servitude, picking cotton.

At least, as migrants, we had the opportunity to come and go and not pick them the entire time.

When she was reminiscing, she was fondly looking back. When I look back, I do not view being migrant workers negatively. There was lots of camaraderie and good times in hard work.

Jools, I imagine you too look back at those hard times and remember them fondly, even though they were difficult times.

Dee said...

When I interviewed and recorded my aunt's life memories, I was surprised to hear about my uncle.
Through those interviews, I learned why he chose to continue to work as a migrant laborer vs working in a factory. Later he opened a fruit stand/store, later a small molino/tortilla factory.

I knew my uncle was in the war, (WW2) but I didn't know he was a prisoner of war. When he came back he had a very difficult time getting accustomed to life in America. He could not stand loud noises or any sort of stress, all due to his time of being a POW. Back then they called it Shell Shock. Now they call it PTSD.

My aunt said when he came back, he had several break downs, all due to loud noises or stress. He went to a VA Hospital and the doctors diagnosed Shell Shock. The kind doctor advised he lay by a river and stay away from the city. A few years later, that is exactly what his family did. He found a nice little country town next to a river and that is where they built their first fruit stand.

I have the videos. I want to post them and/or write a book about their families life experiences.

Vicente Duque said...

Betty Chu also picked cherries in the fields like Dee from Texas. Now Betty and cousin Judy fight for a seat in the House of Representatives.

Judy Chu ( Democrat ) versus Betty Chu ( Republican ) - Special election on July 14 for the seat of Hilda Solis in the House of Representatives

Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS -- 32nd Congressional District
Candidates for San Gabriel Valley seat aren't backing down
As favored Democrat Judy Chu downsizes her headquarters, Republican Betty Tom Chu for the first time opens a campaign office and Libertarian Christopher M. Agrella touts himself as 'fresh blood.'
By Jean Merl
June 22, 2009

Candidates for San Gabriel Valley seat aren't backing down,0,3731951.story

Some excerpts :

Because no candidate won a majority in the special primary, the contest then shifted to a July 14 runoff among the top vote-getters in each party that fielded a candidate.

Because the district is strongly Democratic, the "real" contest took place in the primary, political experts say. They believe that Judy Chu's election is now all but certain under a system in which most of California's legislative and congressional districts were drawn by state officeholders to protect incumbents and favor one major party.

"It's over now," Jaime A. Regalado, director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., said after the primary.

Those kinds of statements irritate Agrella and Betty Chu, who believe that they can overcome the district's Democratic edge. As of May 4, the most recent tally by the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder, 52% of the district's registered voters were Democrats, about 22% were Republicans and 21% were unaffiliated with any party. The balance belonged to other parties.

Betty Chu is betting that voters will like her experience.

"I believe my platform has broad appeal," she said. A longtime Democrat, she said she switched to the Republican Party last year after deciding that her political views fit better with the GOP. She does not support President Obama's economic stimulus plan, calling it ineffective and wasteful of taxpayer dollars.

Born in San Diego, she said, she worked in the fields as a child with her parents and as an adult broke many barriers, including becoming the first female Chinese American lawyer in Southern California.

Judy Chu, who put together a multiethnic coalition with the help of organized labor to win the primary, described the runoff campaign as "a calmer situation. But I'm not taking it for granted -- I'm working very hard."

Chu said she spends much of her campaign time doing fundraising and phoning voters. She raised nearly $1 million in the primary, and EMILY'S List, a national organization that supports pro-choice, Democratic female candidates, spent approximately $17,000 independently on her behalf.

She said she is concentrating on "addressing the economic crisis" and on proposing ways to bring jobs back to the strongly working-class district.

"People have a great deal of anxiety about their futures," said Chu, who added that she supported the Obama administration's economic policies and efforts to see that all Americans have access to health insurance.

"There are so many different initiatives going on, and I want to be a part of that," Chu said.

Vicente Duque

Vicente Duque said...

Evil Reconstruction of Whiteness - When despised and degraded Latinos aspire to be White, as so many “non-White” Irish, Italians, Poles in Past Times

Racial Thoughts and Raciality Riddles, Perplexities and Paradoxes of Race, Racism, Brutality and Imbecility ???

Isn't it very stupid when some Latinos aspire to Whiteness ??

The despised and degraded immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Poland were considered “non-whites” and even hanged from lamposts like in the Riots in New Orleans in the last decade of the 19 century ( See my section on "Racial Movies" of "Great Cinema" ) ..... These non-Whites : Irish, Italians, Poles and others eventually became White and were not lynched again.

Recently we saw an idiot of name Manuel Miranda disparaging and humiliating Blacks inside the Most Stupid and Conservative "Heritage Foundation"....

This Fool is a prominent Republican and the Orchestra Director against Sonia Sotomayor.

This idiot said "We ( Latinos ) are not like African Americans, We are like everybody else"

The Reconstruction of Whiteness to admit Latinos is evil because it always leave some underdogs behind : Blacks or Native Americans or those too Brown or Chocolate to be admited in the upper Nobility, and the others continue being Helots. Just like in Ancient Sparta, where the Helots were free game for hunting. ( In America's case to continue despising an underclass of citizens )

Can Latinos become so degraded and inhuman like that ???

Or only those affiliated to Republican Imbecility and Idiotic Bush Think Tanks ??

The Same Think Thanks that applauded the Failed Wars ??

Vicente Duque

Vicente Duque said...

The Strongest Nonagenarians and Healthiest People in the World : Okinawans, Sardinians, Costa Ricans, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Mediterranean Immigrants in Europe

This is a big Medical Controversy in the Internet and there are no Perfect Beautiful and Definite Conclusions. There is Zero Agreement among Scientists.

Asian Americans and Mexican Americans live more than Whites and Blacks inside the U. S. This is very old knowledge ( 20 years ) and very much confirmed by Statistics.

There are many explanations, self-selection of the healthiest by Immigration, return of the Weak to original country ( River Salmon Effect ), eating little in Youth, Family ties and support, Religiosity, etc ...

And nobody is happy with the explanations. The confirmations and refutals are constantly discarded and contradicted by other scientists.

Even more complicated Mexicans seem in better Health than Puerto Ricans and Cubans inside the U. S. .

Costa Ricans are longeves ( Super Longevity and Old in Italian ) !! ??

Costa Ricans defeat advanced countries in survival and age expectancy !!

Sardinians and Okinawans are poorer than Italians and Japanese but outlive their countrymen

And they are hard to kill !!

Why Hispanic Babies are so sturdy and hard to kill ??, and why Mexican Children seem to endure sickness better than White or Black Children ??, and have higher survival rates ??.

I am collecting many pages about the "Hispanic Paradox" ... Why Hispanics are living so long in the U. S. ??

Vicente Duque

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I've been gone all week...just returned from Wisconsin..the same area of Wisconsin I spoke of in my former post.

While there I did some research by asking people if they ever remember migrant workers in this area ever. I asked my brother in law who is currently the largest land owner in the county. The answer - never, not even today. All together, my brother in law farms 800 acres (tillable land) consisting of several small farms. The area is all small farms, with a major Amish population. He said there are some big potato farms about 100 miles away that may have used migrant farmers but the area is not a "hand crop" area. It's very hilly - almost mountainous.

That's where I grew up and it was a long time ago but the terrain is such that not much has changed as far as farming goes.

I was still in that area when Martin Luther King was killed. I knew not one black person personally. There were none in the area. Everything I knew was from the news and books of course on the history of slavery. I married and moved shortly after that and even saw a few civil rights riots. I learned pretty fast.

By the way, while I was in the area this week, I stayed at a bed and breakfast farm in the heart of Amish country. You wouldn't even believe it was in this century in the United States. Horses and buggies dominated the roads. Horses are used to plow the fields.

There are many faces to America. Many different customs. Many different religions. Many different cultures.

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