Stories From the Real Coachella
Below is an excerpt from “How the P’urhépechas Came to the Coachella Valley,” an oral history of Pedro Gonzalez, one of thousands of P’urhépecha farmworkers living and working in the Coachella Valley of California. In an interview, he recounted the history of the P’urhépecha migration that created the Duros and Chicanitas labor camps located on the Cahuilla Indian Reservation:
I grew up in Ocomichu, Michoacán, which is a P’urhépecha town. When I was growing up, nobody knew how to speak Spanish. When you asked something in Spanish while they were working in the fields they would run, because they didn’t understand what you were saying. You suffer when you don’t know the language. My father wasn’t P’urhépecha, though, just my mother, so he taught us Spanish when we were young.
I first came to the U.S. in 1979. When I first arrived in Riverside I didn’t get a paycheck for two weeks. We survived off tortillas and oranges. We were working in the orange fields, and ate them for every meal. Someone lent us a couple of dollars and we would buy a package of tortillas. We needed to help each other, even when someone just needed a dollar. I just felt like crying back then, not knowing what to do.
Today in Duros or Mecca you can practically go anywhere and speak P’urhépecha with anyone. It wasn’t like that when I got here. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I lived with an African-American man in Palm Springs for two months and felt very lonely. Nowadays the younger generation says our memories of what we suffered are exaggerated. That makes me feel bad. We walked two nights and two days crossing the border back then. Now it costs as much as $3,000 to cross the line. You have to work for more than two or three months to earn that much. It used to be that you didn’t have to pay another person to help you cross. Now it’s much harder and the coyotes charge so much. I used to help people cross for $300, and it was no big deal. I’ve helped others cross and they’ve never paid me. They forget.
I would say we have about three thousand P’urhépecha people in this area now. There are a lot of us. In Riverside alone I think there must be fifteen hundred people. Our hometown in Michoacán has also grown a lot. It used to be a small town, but it’s now a lot bigger. A few years back, they conducted a census in Mexico and determined there were about eight thousand indigenous people living in the hills of that area of Michoacán. I would say most are still there, but there are many of us now all over the U.S. We’re spread out in Palm Springs, Coachella, Indio, and Riverside.
Here in the Duros trailer park, there were only four trailers when I came in 1999. Slowly, people started arriving and everything started growing. Now I think there must be hundreds of people in these two parks, Duros and Chicanitas.
Most of us here work picking lemons and grapes, depending on the time of year. I like working the lemon harvest the most, because it pays piece rate (and not by the hour). If you work by the hour, it’s just over $7. On piece rate you can make about $1,550 every two weeks. If we do odd jobs here and there, it’s enough for us to live on. But piece rate makes you work fast, and some people don’t like it because they don’t like to work hard. For example, today I finished nine rows while some others only did five.
The owner of the park is a good man, a Native American. He even helped me fill out the immigration paperwork for my family, and only charged $500 when others would have charged $2,000.
But we used to have a lot of problems before the state took control of the park. A big one was the lack of security. Once, my wife heard knocking right after we’d left for work. She thought we’d come back, so she opened the door. It was an intruder. She yelled and he ran off, but the security guards wouldn’t do anything to protect us.
Rent on the trailer here costs us about $250, and with garbage, water, and security it goes up to $300 a month. If you’re getting paid $7 or $8 an hour, that’s hard. Gas prices keep going up and our wages don’t. Food prices are high. I spend more than $300 every time I buy food. If people got together and decided not to work for one day, it would have a tremendous impact on the economy; but people don’t do that because they are in need of money. We participated in a strike once. But there were other people who really needed work. They went into the fields to work even though we told them not to.
My kids are here legally now, and I’m in the process of obtaining legal residency for my last child. They all speak P’urhépecha, which is what we speak in the house. My wife doesn’t speak Spanish too well. She refused to learn it in the beginning because she said she wouldn’t need it. But now look at how necessary it is to speak English in this country. When my kids were young we had such a humble life in Mexico. They used to run around with holes all over their clothes. But our life has changed. Now if they have a little tear, they want to throw the clothes away. They even waste a lot of food. They don’t know how to value things. My family still has land in the ejido. My brother sold his plot when the land reform law changed, but I still have mine. My father died but my mother is still alive, and my wife’s mother is as well. We never forget about them, and send them money continuously. I don’t think my kids will return to Michoacán to live, though. Even though some were born over there, when we go to visit they always want to come back. But I don’t think they will lose their language and culture living here. We hold onto the P’urhépecha traditions with dances, weddings, baptisms, and quinceañeras. We all help each other out. There are many P’urhépechas here so everyone feels at home. I might go back to Mexico to live someday, but I don’t know when. I haven’t been there in years. I don’t even have my voter card. I’ve never voted in my life.
Read more at New America Media
Photos and interview by David Bacon
"If you blame Native American communities for their poverty, remember that the entire continent was stolen from them.
If you blame Black American communities for their relative poverty, remember that Black Americans were stolen from a continent, trafficked, and enslaved for nearly 300 years.
Tell me again about how your family ‘started from nothing’ when they immigrated. Didn’t they start from whiteness? Seems like a pretty good start.
The American Dream required dual genocides, but tell me again about fairness and equal opportunity. Tell me about democracy, modeled after the Iroquois Confederacy. Tell me your proud heritage, and I will show you the violence that made it so."
Kim Katrin Crosby, Keynote Speaker for LGBTQ History Month at Dartmouth, on September 30, 2013 (via xuron)
a while back i made a post about slavery being our past, present and future. I didnt explain it lol
and of course people called me an idiot because no one ever reads beneath the surface of what i’m im writing ( a few of you get me tho)
what I mean by that is what I said…
1. West Bank: Hyatt (left) recently took a yoga lesson from a visiting American yoga instructor. She is now teaching the young residents of her village, Zataara, a small village on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank. The women are increasing in number each week—and they say it is proving to be the ultimate release. 2012
2. West Bank: Students from the Al-Quds University javelin team wrap up the last practice before summer vacation in the West Bank city of Abu Dis, next to the Israeli Separation Wall. 2013
3. Gaza: A toy store van drives along Gaza’s beach high way. 2013
4. Gaza: A woman plays with two baby lion cubs born in the Rafah Zoo. Gaza once had six zoos, but two were closed due to financial losses and the deaths of large animals. Gazan zoo keepers are renowned for creativity in limited options, having famously painted a donkey as a zebra, smuggling in animals in the tunnels, and stuffing them once they are dead as animals are not easy to replace. 2013
5. At the Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank, accompanied by a sheep for the Eid celebration, a young man enjoys a cigarette on the last evening of Ramadan.
6. Teenage girls try on dresses for an upcoming dance at their private school in Ramallah.
7. 14 year old Sabah Abu Ghanim, Gaza’s famous girl surfer, waits to catch a wave.
8. Family and friends play cards on the roof in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp of Bethlehem. With narrow streets and limited space, the roof is often a refuge for many families to sit together and enjoy the breeze.
9. A boy attempts to bathe a reluctant donkey in the ocean on the outskirts of Gaza’s Deir al-Balah refugee camp.
10. West Bank: A Palestinian youth from Hebron enjoys a swim in Ein Farha, considered to be one of the most beautiful nature spots in the entire West Bank. It, like many other nature reserves and heritage sites in the West Bank, is managed by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
This fundraiser is to help raise money for Crona’s Sex Reassignment surgery. Every donation helps!
Hello lovelies. It’s finally come down to that time where I’m finally ready to take what is for me, the most important life changing step in my transition, which is SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) or what is also known as GRS (Genital Reconstruction Surgery).
I’m super excited to finally be able to start planing out this giant leap forward in my life! My only issue is, like many many Transmen and Women, scavenging up the funds to have the procedure is quite the struggle. I don’t want to turn this into a sappy “The Feelz” message so I’ll not go into The Feelz!
I was quoted by Dr Suporn’s clinic 535000 Baht for the procedure, which is roughly $16,600 USD. Give Forward takes 2.9% for themselves, which apparently can change. The reason I have $24,000 as my funding amount is to cover Airfare, food, and aftercare.
I really don’t like asking for help, but this is super crazy important to me! Every single donation will help, and I’m also going to be putting money into my own fund as I can.
Thank you very much for everyone’s support, and please please, spread, tweet, reblog, this!
Reblogging my own post, because; Why not?
"Sure, movements can be healing. But are they? Many, many broke folks, parents and/or disabled folks who have been forced out of movements would say no. What disability justice and healing justice talks about—and asks—is, are they really? Or are they set up in burnout models that destroy folks’s physical and spiritual health? And I think that a big part of what movements that I’m part of do to *make movements* that aren’t shitty, is to center disabled, working-class and poor, parenting, and femme of color genius. Burnout isn’t just about not having a deep enough analysis. It’s about movements that are deeply ableist and inaccessible."
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, “for badass disability justice, working-class and poor lead models of sustainable hustling for liberation”
I feel like the appropriation of Palestinian food, clothes, songs…etc by Israelis is one of the things that kill me the most. You have already stolen all there is to steal: our lives, our lands, our homes and for many our dreams as well. The least you could leave for us is our food, or the little sentimentals that make us happy. But mind you, even that has to be appropriated. Zaatar and olive oil sin’t Israeli, it never was and never will be. Neither is Maklouba, shakshouka, falafel or dabka and most certainly not our Thob either.
A group of three people and their supporters began camping out in front of the White House on Saturday, coinciding with a national day of action against continued deportations by Obama’s administration. And today, they’ve started an indefinite hunger strike.
Jose Valdez, a 55-year-old construction worker from Arizona already knows what it’s like to stop eating. Valdez, who’s been working with the Puente Movement, participated in a 15-day long hunger strike in Phoenix that started in February—during which time someone threw burritos at him covered in racist slurs. But the bigger blow for Valdez, was that his 31-year-old son Jaime, who was also on a hunger strike at the notorious Eloy Detention Center, was deported. Valdez concluded his strike in March and is now starting another just a month later.
Jaime Valdez, who says his deportation was retaliation for his participation in the hunger strike at the detention center, turned himself in at the Nogales Port of Entry on April 1, demanding humanitarian parole. Jaime Valdez is now at the Florence Detention Center in Arizona, waiting to hear back to learn whether he will be allowed to reunite with his family. In the meantime, his father hasn’t given up hope.
“I’m in DC hunger striking again to see who will support me,” says father Jose Valdez—adding that he didn’t get much support from politicians during his first hunger strike. “I want to know who will help stop deportations and detentions, and who will help provide some kind of relief for undocumented people.”
This new hunger strike kicks off as a 48-hour fast wraps up on the National Mall. Some 100 women fasters, organized through the We Belong Together campaign, were visited by several members of Congress today, as they conclude a month-long series of fasts to highlight immigration as a women’s issue.
CeCe McDonald, a trans, Black woman, who spent 41 months in prison for defending herself against an attacker, recently sat down to talk about safety. She was in conversation with legal scholar Dean Spade and organizer Reina Gossett shortly after she was released from prison, and a clip of that conversation was just released on Vimeo.
The three will continue the conversation on April 21 at Barnard College. You can register here.
A Catholic priest who said an officer put him in a chokehold and slammed his head into a glass door. A woman who said she shouldn’t have been handcuffed when officers arrested her.
A father who claimed officers beat him in the hallway outside of his child’s hospital room until his head was bloody. A bank robber who was shot by officers after a high-speed chase. A man whose head was slammed into something so hard that the bones in his face broke.
In each situation the Oakland Police Department was sued. And in each one, the City of Oakland chose to settle out of court rather than take the case to trial.
A review of Oakland City Attorney lawsuit data and hundreds of federal and state court cases has found that since 1990, Oakland has spent $74 million dollars to settle at least 417 lawsuits accusing its police officers of brutality, misconduct and other civil rights violations.
Oakland spends more on civil-rights police lawsuits than nearly any other California law enforcement agency, with multimillion-dollar settlements coming directly out of funds that could go to libraries, police and fire services or road repair.
Supporters of the Oakland Police Department say that high number is a reflection of the city’s willingness to settle at any cost. But Oakland Police Beat’s analysis found that the City of Oakland has successfully defended itself against many lawsuits it considers to be unfounded.
Our investigation found that more than 500 officers were named in those lawsuits. At least 72 of those officers were named in three or more of the suits. Settlement amounts per lawsuits range from $100 to the nearly $11 million paid out following the so-called Riders scandal, where more than 100 plaintiffs accused officers of beating, kidnapping and planting evidence on suspects.
Historically, the number of OPD-related lawsuits filed against the city varies from year to year. But over the last three years the number of cases settled dropped, leaving some — like Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — cautiously hopeful that long-sought-after reforms are beginning to impact the Oakland Police Department.
(Pictured: An Occupy Oakland protester is arrested in the early morning hours of Thurs, November 3, 2011 in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Lawsuits alleging excessive force by OPD officers during the demonstrations have cost the city more than $6 million in settlements. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage)