BY CHRIS O’BRIEN for the Los Angeles Times
REPORTING FROM BERKELEY
Sept. 2, 2013
Kyle Kuwahara, left, and Jude Kratzer use the video game Minecraft to stay in touch with classmate Rodrigo Guzman, 10, who was deported along with his family to Mexico. (Craig Kuwahara)
To save their classmate who was deported to Mexico, the fourth-graders devised an epic plan.
That Rodrigo Guzman, 10, could no longer be with his friends and attend Jefferson Elementary seemed so obviously unfair to these students. So they started an online petition that got 2,788 signatures. They created a Facebook page and posted videos to YouTube.
They petitioned the Berkeley City Council and school district, which passed resolutions supporting their cause. They met with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) to ask whether she could intervene.
“We have to fight for Rodrigo’s rights because he is not able to do it himself!” Kyle Kuwahara said in a letter to President Obama. “Today I’m writing to you on Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday to do the right thing. To allow Rodrigo and his family to return to their home, school and friends in Berkeley.”
Even as the children’s “Bring Rodrigo Home” campaign built momentum, it became clear that things would not move fast. The immigration system is complicated, the students were told. There were too many agencies and politicians with rules that didn’t seem to share their urgency. Continue reading →
Woody Guthrie must have known that immigrants were more than just labels like “illegal” or “deportee.” In 1948, news of a plane crash at Los Gatos Canyon, in California’s central San Joaquin Valley, made headlines across the country, but while the four American crew members were identified by name, the 28 Mexican farmworkers who died in the crash were lumped together and referred to only as “deportees.”
Upon reading the New York Times’ account, Guthrie wrote his poem “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” to protest the media’s failure to accurately report on and identify the farmworkers killed. “Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?” Guthrie wrote. “The radio says, ‘They are just deportees.'”
Tim Z. Hernandez, a California poet and author, was offended too. In late 2010, while researching archives for his novel “Mañana Means Heaven,” he came across the headline “100 Prisoners See An Airplane Fall From the Sky.” It was a story about the crash, and it changed the course of his career. He grew up in the farming communities of the San Joaquin Valley, and he connected with Guthrie’s poem because it echoed his own feelings of injustice for the 28 Mexican men and women who were left unnamed. Continue reading →
“Thousands of young people throughout California can only dream about health care. They want to live healthy responsible lives. But that’s hard to do when you can’t see a doctor or you don’t have health insurance.
Check out this 60 second video, “Dreaming of Healthcare.” We made it in partnerships with a group of young Californians. They’re all undocumented. Technically that means they’re not US citizens. But we think they couldn’t be more Californian.
California should not be a place that says some young people deserve health care and some don’t. Access to screenings and checkups helps people prevent problems before they start. When health care includes everyone, and we mean everyone, that keeps us all healthy. We’re in this together.
Editor’s Note: After spending two years among indigenous farm workers in Mexico and in labor camps in the United States, medical anthropologist Dr. Seth M. Holmes documents how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment and racism undermine their health and access to health care in his book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States. He spoke to NAM Health Editor Viji Sundaram.
NAM: Did you set out on this project as a purely anthropological endeavor, but which later changed into something more?
Holmes: Yes, as I said in my book, I set out as an anthropologist to do the classic field research method of participant observation with migrant farmworkers. I wanted to learn about indigenous Mexicans who come to the United States to work on our farms, about their health issues, and about how this group of people is perceived.
NAM: So how closely did you observe the indigenous farm workers?
Holmes: I started this research in rural Washington State, living in a labor camp and picking strawberries and blueberries along with them. We next moved to the Central Valley of California, to Madera, where we first lived homeless for a week in our cars, until we found a slum apartment willing to rent to people without a credit history. In Central California, we were not able to find much work; we pruned vineyards very intermittently. After California, I moved with them to their home village in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, and lived in a partially constructed concrete home built piece-meal with money sent by relatives in Madera and Washington State. Continue reading →
Don Bartletti wants to be invisible. He wants you to see through him and his art, to fix upon the images he has created and to ask: “How can such things be?” He credits this vision of photography to the late documentary photographer, Dorothea Lange. “I don’t want readers to necessarily dwell on how I did it,” he says. “In documentary photojournalism, I believe the subject, not the photographer, should be the number one author of the photo.”
Nowhere is this vision clearer than in Bartletti’s photos for “Bound To El Norte.” A boy loses his mother and sets out on a perilous journey to find her. In the vast movement of people from Central America and Mexico, Enrique is one of 48,000 children who come to the United States alone each year. Many are looking for their mothers, who went north seeking work.
Bartletti’s opening picture cries out: How can this be—–a lone boy on top of a rolling freight train? It is dangerous and a little eerie. All lines of sight—the train, the tracks, the power lines, the youngster’s vision, and Bartletti’s camera—are focused on a single perspective: the future. What does the future hold? It’s not at all clear. There is fog ahead and a curve. Continue reading →