Migrant Emancipation: October 2007 Archives

Living Under the Trees

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The recent fires in California have shed light on migrant workers living on the fringes of the farmlands where they harvest our nation's vegetables.  Living in tent communities, secluded from basic human services, these migrant workers are sometimes nonetheless located within sight of expensive new homes inhabited by people living a totally different existence from theirs.      

Long before the fires came, photographer David Bacon spent time among the migrants, creating an intimate portrait of their lives.  There's still time to catch his photography and oral history exhibition, "Living Under the Trees."  Since its debut in March, this exhibition has appeared around Los Angeles, and is slated next for San Francisco and San Diego between this December and April 2008.

Whether or not you can make it to the exhibition, definitely check out David Bacon's breathtaking photos at his website.  He has done amazing work documenting the lives of those who live in the shadows, as well as those who struggle for workers' rights, both here and around the world.  Bacon's stories and photos are worth volumes of mere words.  He has traveled to communities south of the border, including the pueblito where I spent 3 months long ago, catching my first glimpse of migrants traveling north by train.  His work on immigrants focuses largely on migrant farm workers and should not be missed.
I've had a picture burned into my mind for almost a month, now, .  I think about it every time I hear about the ongoing crisis in Burma.  The news I read in this morning's Boston Globe was a small piece of good news, fortunately, but it doesn't remove the cloud that looms over Burma or the image that has been etched into the back of my eyes.

I will not link to, or display the picture on the front page.  It is too graphic.  But I will attempt to describe the circumstances that led to it.  If people want to click through, I will display it. 

On September 29, hundreds of people were massacred in Rangoon, Burma, in an attempt to stifle campaigns for democracy in the country.  Customarily, riot police use rubber-coated rods to stifle unrest.  Outside of the Number 3 High School in the Township of Tarmwe, soldiers beat protesters with heavy metal rods.  One young student was killed on the spot after his skull was bashed in.   His body was soon carried away, but in a nearby gutter, a piece of his brain remained.

That's the picture that has been burned into my mind.  A brain in the gutter next to a high school.  There are pictures that capture a moment.  Then there are pictures that stand for something greater.  Seeing part of a young student's brain, a brain that might have been used for great things, languishing in the gutter next to a place of learning says more than my words ever could. 
The picture on the left is from the website of the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), an migrant youth organization here in Massachusetts.  SIM is a big part of why Massachusetts is relatively pro-migrant compared to everywhere else in the U.S.  It is students like these that I keep in mind as I write this post.  Their undying hope is inspiring.  Just read the words of  Patricia De Oliveira:

As a student, I am not going to let these Senators decide my future. They will NOT take my future from me. We are going to fight until we have the right to an education. We are in this until we win. That’s the bottom line.

Still, the way their hopes were crushed yesterday, for at least a year, should force all migrant advocates ask some really hard questions.  This entry comes from someone that was on the front lines of recent DREAM activism.   I did everything in my power to move the DREAM Act forward.

The Anti-Migrant Online Machine

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Migrant advocates realize that online opposition is strong, but I don't think everyone realizes just how sophisticated and efficient the online anti-migrant hate machine is. 

I spent almost all of last week doing work around the DREAM Act.  A lot of the work I did was dedicating Youtube videos to key Senators that will decide the fate of the DREAM Act.  By the way if you have a second, today, call the following senators:

Murkowski (R-AK) 202-244-6665
Stevens (R-AK) 202-224-3004
Pryor (D-AR) 202-224-2353
Martinez (R-FL) 202-224-3041
Inouye (D-HI) 202-224-3934
Brownback (R-KS) 202-224-6521
Landieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824
Collins (R-ME) 202-224-2523
Snowe (R-ME) 202-224-5344
Conrad (D-ND) 202-224-2043
Dorgan (D-ND) 202-224-2551
Dominici (R-NM) 202-224-6621
Voinovich (R-OH) 202-224-3353
Smith (R-OR) 202-224-3753
Graham (R-SC) 202-224-5972
Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842
Cornyn (R-TX) 202-224-2934
Warner(R-VA) 202-224-2023
Rockefeller (D-VA) 202-224-6472
All you have to say is "My name is __, and I urge Senator ___ to support the DREAM Act".  Often times, they won't ask you your location.

To get back to my story, while I was uploading my Youtube videos, it didn't take more than 3 views for someone to plant an anti-migrant comment on them.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Migrant Emancipation category from October 2007.

Migrant Emancipation: November 2007 is the next archive.

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