01.08.13

Bill Moyers interviews Junot Diaz

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:30 pm by webjefa

He’s been doing a lot of interviews lately, and it’s interesting how each one differs based on the interviewers approach.  Moyers begins with the election and touches on several issues from the popular media, including Bill O’Reilly’s rant….

Video is at Bill Moyers site (Dec 28), and transcript here.

[Diaz:]  .. there is an enormous gap between the way the country presents itself and imagines itself and projects itself and the reality of this country. Whether we’re talking about the Latino community in North Carolina. Whether we’re talking about a very active and I think in some ways very out queer community across the United States. Or whether we’re talking about an enormous body of young voters who are either ignored or sort of pandered to or in some ways, you know, kind of distorted, I think that what we’re having is a new country emerging that’s been in the making for a long time, and that in different regions we’ve already seen its face. But I think for the first time sort of revealed itself more fully to the entire country.

BILL MOYERS: Are there no honest mirrors reflecting back to us what you just talked about?

JUNOT DÍAZ: Sure. But, you know, you’ve got to really be interested in that. And sometimes your mindset, you know, doesn’t allow you to see it. I mean, how many people do I know who work in a building where every single person who makes that building possible is Latino, you know? And yet, when you ask them, “Do you know any Latinos?” they’re like, “Nah, really, the Latino community’s growing?” And yet everybody that holds the door, all the way up to the guys who run the mechanical systems in the building. And so, of course, I do think that there’s already for some folks that old story that we’ve been carrying about ourselves that gets reinforced every day in the news and every day on television, in the movies, and even in the culture of books, that old story is tenacious. And it’s hard to kind of move that enormous boulder in a new direction.

Interview continues here.

01.07.13

Lessons of 2012: “It Was Never About Us”

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:05 pm by webjefa

Check out this thoughtful analysis of the 2012 election by Gihan Perera and Manuel Pastor at Colorlines.  You should be checking Colorlines regularly for excellent academically-grounded analysis….

On Florida’s last day of early voting, I was visiting polls making sure things were running smoothly. When I arrived at the the North Dade Regional Library, 850 people were patiently waiting in line, and many more were rushing to join before the poll shut down. With two minutes left before closing, poll workers made their way to the end of the snaking queue to stop anyone else from joining. A woman pulled up and pleaded with poll workers to give her time to find parking, but they said it was impossible. We looked at each other—and even though we were complete strangers, she threw me her keys and scrambled to join the line without looking back. I jumped in and drove off to find parking. Later, I found her in line to return her keys. We said nothing to each other, but we didn’t need to—we knew what this was about. One of our organizers gave her a card, and she called the offices of Florida New Majority two days later to report that she voted at 12:34 am. And she asked us: what’s next?

In a sense, the results of this year’s presidential election were perplexing. How could a president with an economy in the doldrums, an energized opposition, and an approval rating that had been sagging for years actually pull off a re-election victory? Was it the early branding of Mitt Romney as a vulture capitalist? Was it the Latino reaction to an anti-immigrant tone? Was it the sophisticated data mavens in Chicago who combined behavioral science with “big data” methods to facilitate a remarkably accurate approach to voter targeting?

All those reasons make some sense; all contributed to President Obama’s victory in November. But there was something else happening on the ground that all these analyses miss—and by missing it, fail to capture a reality that we need to understand in order to push the racial justice movement forward in years to come: this time, it wasn’t just about Obama.

Articles continues here

 

01.05.13

“The Only Job I Can Do” – A Young Mother’s Farmwork Story

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:02 pm by webjefa

From New American Media, an interview by David Bacon with Lorena Hernandez, a young farm worker and single mother from Oaxaca, Mexico who currently lives in Madera, Calif., with her daughter and aunt.

MADERA, Calif.–To go pick blueberries I have to get up at four in the morning. First I make my lunch to take with me, and then I get dressed for work. For lunch I eat whatever there is in the house, mostly bean tacos. Then the ritero, the person who gives me a ride to work, picks me up at 20 minutes to five.

I work as long as my body can take it, usually until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then the ritero gives me a ride home, and I get there by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. By then I’m really tired.

I pay $8 each way to get to work and back home. Right now they’re paying $6 for each bucket of blueberries you pick, so I have to fill almost three buckets just to cover my daily ride. The contractor I work for, Elias Hernandez, hooks us up with the riteros. He’s the contractor for 50 of us farm workers picking blueberries, and I met him when a friend of my aunt gave me his number.

I’ve known Elias two years now, since the first time we worked putting plastic on the grape vines. On that job, which lasts a month, we put pieces of plastic over the vines so that it looks like an igloo. They do this so the grapes won’t burn from the frost. The grapes are almost ready to pick when we do this, but we don’t pick them. Other people come after us to do that.

I pick grapes for raisins or wine with another contractor. I’ve worked with many contractors doing many different jobs. Sometimes I work a lot with the same contractor, but sometimes it changes — it depends on how they treat me. I also try to find work that’s easier. To me the contractors are all the same, but some treat us better than others, so I go with them.

Interview continues at New American Media