Monday, March 31, 2014

Mexican American Studies in Texas Schools


One Vote Could Change The Course Of Mexican-American Studies

Texas State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez says he'll propose a vote to decide whether to create a statewide Mexican-American studies course at the agency's meeting next month.
If passed, the measure would mark a major victory for Latino education activists who have pressed for a public school curriculum more reflective of their state's majority-Hispanic student body.
Ed. note.  California does not have Mexican American Studies in the state approved curriculum. See
"This is it -- we've been inching our way to a vote," Cortez told The Huffington Post. "Just the mere fact that we're going to have a vote is historic."
The group Librotraficante, formed in 2012 to protest the banning of the Tucson Mexican-American studies program, started calling last year for the Texas SBOE to include a dual-credit Mexican-American studies course when the state agency took up the question of new course design.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Strategic Racism and the Contested Legacy of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

 On March 31, Eleven  states will hold holidays celebrating  labor and Latino leader Cesar Chavez.   A new film Cesar Chavez: History is Made One Step at a Time,  starring  Michael Peña   as Cesar Chavez and  Rosario Dawson  as Dolores Huerta opens in cities across the country on April 4, 2014.  Here is a trailer.
There is a film review by Randy Shaw in the post below.
Let us be clear.  Chavez was religious, but he was not a saint. Neither were the growers, the Teamster collaborators, nor corporate agribusiness saints.  Celebrations should not be about hero worship or uncritical praise, nor should we ignore the present oppression of farm workers in the U.S. 
What Chavez and Huerta did  accomplish along with Philip Vera Cruz ,  Marshall Ganz, LeRoy Chatfield, Gil Padilla and  hundreds of others was to   organize in California the first successful farm worker union against overwhelming odds.
With Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, and others Chávez and Huerta  deliberately created a multiracial union; Mexican,  Mexican American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW.  This cross-racial organizing  was necessary in order to combat the  prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial and  language lines, as well as immigration status  always left the corporations the winners.

Each of the prior attempts to organize a  farm worker union  had been  destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and community organizing.  They allied the union   with churches, students,  and organized labor.  The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing  in the Southwest  and contributed significantly to the growth  of Latino politics in the U.S.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cesar Chavez film inspires

Cesar Chavez, a feature film on the farmworker leader, was previewed in Berkeley on March 5 prior to its March 28 national release. Based on the audience response, the film will help inspire a new generation of young activists to push for social justice, and will particularly resonate with Dreamers and others pushing for immigration reform.
The atmosphere was electric in Berkeley’s California Theater as a full house waited in anticipation for Diego Luna’s new film, Cesar Chavez. A block long line of people were turned away, reflecting an interest in the movie that Luna hoped would return when the film is released in three weeks.
Having spent years researching and thinking about Cesar Chavez for my book, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century, I was intrigued by how a feature film would handle the long and complex story of the farmworkers movement. And I think it covered the story of Cesar Chavez himself remarkably well for the years covered in the movie.

Chavez’s Remarkable Life

Cesar Chavez’s rise from a young boy carrying cantaloupes in the fields to one of the nation’s leading labor and social change leaders is a story that almost defies belief. Among the film’s great strengths is its focus on how Chavez overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to build California’s farmworker movement.
No film on historical events can provide the detail and nuances of a book, and in this case the facts overlooked was the critical role of other key leaders in the UFW’s rise.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Florida Farmworkers Take on Industry

In 'Fair Food' Fight, Florida Farmworkers Take On Industry
Sara Lazare
Common Dreams
The Immokalee, Florida migrant farmworkers who have forced some of the biggest food industry corporations in the world to acquiesce to their demands for dignity in the fields say they are determined to make Wendy's and Publix do the same.
To prove it, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers [1] launched their 'Now Is the Time' tour in early March, staging rallies and actions in ten cities in 10 days that culminated in an overnight vigil of hundreds at a Lakeland, Florida Publix on Friday and Saturday.
Their demands? That Wendy's and Publix support a penny-per-pound pay increase for tomato pickers, back-up a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and sexual harassment, and allow workers to exercise their rights to organize and work safely.
Now under the banner of the Fair Food Program [2], these demands emerged from the earliest days of CIW organizing in the early 1990s, in which mostly Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti born migrant farmworkers joined together to fight low pay, rampant wage theft, workplace abuse, and modern-day slavery [3]. The organization, which has since swelled to 5,000 farmworker members, has forced a dozen [4] of the world's wealthiest fast food and grocery corporations to sign onto the Fair Food Program, including Walmart in January 2014.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Latinos reach plurality in California population.

From 2000 to 2011, California’s Latino population increased by 3.4 million (31%), nearly ninety percent of the state’s total population growth (3,820,264), during that time.  By July, 2013, Latinos have reached parity with whites with regard to their share of the state’s general population. Latinos will comprise nearly 39%
of the state’s total population - 14.8 million. (California Department of Finance).  In 2014 the Latino population will become the plurality, but not the plurality of voters.
    Latinos share of California’s vote is currently  not  representative compared to their share of the state’s overall population, nor is it equal to their share of the state’s citizen voting population —those who are eligible to vote. At 19.7%, the 2012 Latino share of California’s overall vote remains far below the 26.3% (6,199,264) Latino share of the state’s 2012  eligible voters  and far below the 39% Latino share of the state’s total population.  (Center for Regional Change. U.C. Davis.  May 2013.)
Changing Political Tides.  Report 6.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Immigrant Women's Lives- International Women's Day

Exploring Immigrant Women's Lives on International Women's Day
On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) – a holiday that originated in the United States and was later codified by the Socialist International in 1914. IWD reminds us that the struggle for women’s rights and liberation is an international struggle. This International Women’s Day we should remind ourselves of the role played by immigrant women in the U.S. These women, our ancestors, came seeking a better life. They got jobs as maids and nannies, in factories and on farms. Too often they were disdained by the immigrants who had preceded them. The same is all too true today.
Last fall I attended a webinar that featured DSA Honorary Chair Gloria Steinem. The webinar was sponsored by We Belong Together, “an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, with the participation of women’s organizations, immigrant rights groups, children, and families across the country.” Steinem noted that “Historically, globally, it is women who have been on the road. If you look at refugees, migrants, those who are affected by conflict and need to find work and 
move for a better life, the majority have been women. Immigration is a women’s issue, and we need to change consciousness to help people understand this truth.”
(photo. D Bacon)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Senator Lara Introduces Bill for Multilingual Education in California

Would repeal Prop.227. (1998)
— Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach/Huntington Park) announced legislation today that would enable California’s public schools to provide multilingual instruction, granting more students access to valuable 21st Century language skills and giving parents more choice over their children’s education.

If passed, SB 1174, the Multilingual Education for a 21st Century Economy Act, would place an initiative before voters on the November 2016 ballot to repeal prohibitions to multilingual instruction passed through Proposition 227.

“In an increasingly interconnected global economy, we have to prepare our students for a future in which their success depends not only on an ability to understand diverse perspectives and cultures, but also on an ability to communicate in different languages,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “Employers seek multilingual employees and all students – English and non-English learners alike – deserve access to this invaluable skill.”