Our Rights as Humans (Rough Draft)

What? What does Lorena mean by “My Job as a Human Being”? What is the role and importance of college for Lorena in relationship to her vision for social justice? How does she act on her values? (Use quotes and direct references to the text to support your interpretation.)

She worked two jobs while in high school to help support her family. She went to Fresno State as a biology/premed major and had to work because she did not receive financial aid, since she was undocumented. One of the pivotal moments in her life was when her advisor told her about an internship helping farmworkers in North Carolina. Lorena felt like she had to act on this opportunity and she stated, “I’ve always reminded myself that the only reason why I’m in school and I have a good job is because my parents did backbreaking labor so that I could go to school. I’ve always felt like I need to give back to those people, because those laborers out there in the fields are like my parents” (190). Her family and employers told her that the opportunity was not worth the risk and that she was putting herself in danger. She flew to North Carolina and after hearing about the fundraising and protesting they were planning on undertaking, Lorena became frightful and started to second guess her decisions. Lorena was placed with a medical school to educate farmworkers about the dangers of pesticides. That became her job. To protect and educate others from the knowledge she gained from attending college. Lorena also helped the medical school by collecting urine samples from the children in the town to see how pesticides from the parents transfer into their children. The way the farmers lived was unjust. They were isolated and lived in the middle of trees because they were undocumented and no one was supposed to know they lived and worked in North Carolina. The living and labor conditions were much different than California and Lorena was very shocked by this. Some of the conditions included, “And just to see what legally is required for the grower to have for them… They’re only required to have one toilet per fifteen people, and one showerhead per ten people. There are all these men, living in barracks-style homes with no privacy, just a bed. The mattresses are years and years old. I heard horror stories of farmworkers that had died from heat exhaustion and tobacco illness” (194). Lorena had her own personal mission after learning about the horrible situation these people were in. She wanted to change one person’s life. She wanted to educate someone in order to give them the knowledge to defend themselves. Lorena went back to California and started an organization on campus to help local farmworkers.

So What? Favianna Rodriguez states,

“ Culture is what surrounds us every day. . . You’re surrounded with messages. If there is not content and messages that humanize us, the core issue of being portrayed in inhumane and one-dimensional ways ends up creating bad policy” (WWFWW, 100).”

How does WWFWW Chapter 4 illustrate the challenges faced by immigrants and the ways that the Dreamers have sought to create change and better lives for all immigrants. Describe at least one of these challenges and at least one strategy that you found interesting or inspiring. How did they learn or come up with these strategies/approaches? (Use quotes and direct references to the text to support your interpretation.)

The entirety of chapter 4 illustrated the hardships and struggles that immigrants have to go through every day. Everyday rights that American citizens take for granted are the rights that immigrants are fighting for. Gaby Pacheco, a scholar and advocate for illegal immigrants spends her time and energy fighting for her family and immigrants across the United States. She was the only one out of her siblings to attend college and she took it upon herself to educate herself for her family and for all those who were not able to attend college because of their immigration status. She began to speak out about her own status in effort to bring attention to the issue of equal rights for all. The Department of Homeland Security went to her home and took Pacheco’s family to attempt to keep her quiet. Pacheco went to the Department of Homeland Security processing center and she made a negotiation, “I was not going to talk to the media anymore and that I was not going to continue to do what I was doing. And under those conditions he let me go” (81). The agent told her that he would let her family go but they still had to undergo the deportation and immigration process. Instead of being filled with fear from the government, “Pacheco responded to the threat the way she knew best: she organized” (81). This is very inspiring to me because Pacheco chose to protest for her family in a nonviolent, calm, and mature way. She organized a march to the immigration courthouse and succeeded by giving her family more time. She saw that she could make a difference. Many people feel as though they are one person and they cannot do enough to make an impact in the world. Pacheco did not allow that fear to prevent her from trying to help all undocumented immigrants. She connected with other students who had similar stories to her and walked from Miami to Washington D.C. While walking, they connected with others by sharing their hardships and stories. “Pacheco reflected on the people they spoke to; in one case, ‘in two hours, this man went from hating us, wanting to hit us, and blaming us to saying, I’m sorry. She muses, ‘We were realizing the power that we had and how we were making a difference…To say, ‘You are my brother. You are my sister. You could be in my shoes. Let me tell you my story so that you could really understand me — -our stories are the most powerful took that we have’” (92). They were sending the message that they were humans who deserve human rights and not illegal immigrants that deserved to be forced out of the United States. They thought about what the best way to connect with others who did not share their same passion for the rights of undocumented citizens. They wanted to be conscious of the way they portrayed themselves. Two of the male walkers even hid their romantic relationship in order to keep the focus on the rights for undocumented citizens and not for LGBT rights. Pacheco was always the one out of the four to speak publically because she was a woman and they were also fighting for the rights of women as well. The four maintained their peaceful protest and got their message across very eloquently. The four walkers made it to the White House with their pride and dignity and support from hundreds of undocumented people.

Now What? In what ways is your own (or the person you are writing to) story similar or different from Lorena’s? How might reading her story and WWFWW Chapter 4 impact how you think about the stories of students at your community partner? Even if you don’t know their specific stories you can extrapolate based on observations and what you know (or have now learned) about challenges faced by immigrants, especially in the current political climate. Does this week’s reading shift or expand your perceptions about your community partner, this colloquium or anything else? (Use quotes and direct references to the text to support your interpretation. Use what you know about your community partner thus far to think about how these texts are relevant to their mission, the students there etc.)

“And I remember being very scared, because as soon as I walked into the little school office, everyone was speaking English. Even though Lamont is more of a Hispanic-populated town now, back then it wasn’t as much. Everyone was speaking English, and we didn’t know English” (187).

Beauty in the Struggle