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Category Archives: US Government

Knowing the Klan

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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The Radium Girls

Curie_and_radium_by_Castaigne

Marie and Pierre Curie experimenting with radium, a drawing by: André Castaigne
This drawing is said to be considered: Public Domain

 

A good friend on Facebook alerted me to this vital information this morning and because it has been an important part of my past, I felt compelled to share it here.

This ugly story is about yet another way that Humans have caused mortal harm often, with little concern, to their fellow Humans.

Years ago, we had Native Friends in the East who had developed severe physical afflictions from growing up in Arizona during the time when Uranium mining  was being  done with little regard to the effect it would have on Humans, primarily the Native people who lived near the mining areas there.

This was not the only instance of US mining processes harming Native people, there were many others, all just as deadly.

From the information gleaned from my searches this morning, it seems that we have a lengthy history in this country of deliberate neglect, and willful intent to harm others on a regular basis and shamefully for profit.

This is the story of the women, most of who worked in the Eastern United States, New Jersey to be exact, in factories making products often for the US Government, that would in a very short time and after great suffering on their part, end their lives.

They, without their consent or knowledge, were being poisoned by radiation from Radium.

At this time in our early US history, many people freely used, or worked with and handled, this what is now known to be deadly substance.

Even Marie Curie the renowned Polish Scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes, one in Chemistry and one in Physics, was not exempt from their lethal effects.

She was not only the first woman to win one, but she was also the only woman to win two!

After a lifetime of one brilliant accomplishment after another, sadly, her work with this very dangerous substance, Radium, would eventually cause her death.

Her development of  aplastic anemia was said to be linked to  her bad  habit of carrying toxic, radioactive isotope test tubes in her lab coat pockets.

Tragically, Madame Curie, like the other Radium Girls, would in the end, succumb to the very evil that she had helped to discover.

 

Places to learn more:

‘Radium Girls’ Remembered for Role in Shaping US Labor Law

Marie Curie

Uranium mining in Arizona

Mae Keane, One Of The Last ‘Radium Girls,’ Dies At 107

Medicine: Radium Women

The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls and the Generation that brushed its Teeth with Radioactive Toothpaste

U tube video – Radium City

Radium Girls

 

 

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Sí, se puede!

Habana_P3

Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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Choices

Picture credit:    Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

 

Living in California for over 30 years,  allowed me to have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Not judging people by their Color, Race,  Ethnicity or Sexual Orientation,  is one of the things that I am most proud of about the Golden State.

But today all over America and  even many parts of the World, personal partner or marriage choices,  are getting harder and harder to make happen.

Right now, here in Florida and in many other US States, people are being told that they cannot, may not,  marry the person that they love.

It is against the LAW and if they try to do so, they will be breaking the LAW!

Our laws, religious groups  and society,  seem to have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to listen, or accept the idea,  that they could possibly be wrong on this issue.

As a side note, it is just a bit difficult to stay focused completely on the “issue of freedom of marriage choice”  in this state, because as of today, Florida unbelievably, STILL has not passed the ERA.

The mood, the discussions, the emotions,  right now in Florida are hot and only getting hotter.

Every region,  or part of this state,  now has a Judge who approves of these marriages, but as soon as they are approved, our State Attorney General,  jumps right in and smacks them down.

And the issue is once again, back to square one, or, one step forward, two steps back!

But I digress,  the Issue here, is about choices.

I myself, am not gay, lesbian,  bi-sexual, or transgender.

But I will defend to my death, the right for any who are,  to have the right to choose WHO they wish to spend the remainder of their life with in a permanent,  loving relationship, or what we call Marriage.

I am ashamed and disgusted by the behavior of those who call themselves Christians,  who proudly march and name call, any and all that they view are wrong to wish to be married in a different way than they are.

Who each of us chooses to marry, should be our choice and only our choice, not Religious Groups, not the State or the US Government.

No one should ever have the right, to tell another Human being,  who they can,  or cannot be married to.

We are all granted, by our Constitution, Civil Liberties.

This should be a personal choice between two  consenting adults, and not subject to discussion or interference, by anyone other than the two persons involved.

Personally I have had, over my lifetime of various careers,  in various states in this Country, many friends who are gay, or transgender.

These relationships were some that have left me with wonderful, lasting memories and the thought that our Country, our World still in the year 2014, intends to forbid, to shame,  to stop them, from making their personal partner choices, makes me sick.

With the level of tensions, troubles and REAL problems on this Planet, right now, wouldn’t you think that they might focus on some of them,  instead of trying to impose their will on the millions who only wish to have a legal marriage?

By the way, many of my Word Press Followers are included in this painful, ugly situation and my prayer is,  that they will find happiness and peace,  in a World that is blinded by prejudice.

We are all the children of one God,  or another,  and as for me, I personally believe,  that any loving God would wish to allow each of us the freedom of CHOICE.

 

 

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Making Marrow Matches!

navymarrowdrive
Capt. Todd A. Zecchin
June 28, 2006 – Mayport, Florida, during the ship’s Bone Marrow Drive
U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Herrada

 

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

This is a very difficult subject for me personally to write about, as our beloved Airedale,  Sabrina died of T-Cell lymphoma just three years ago. She was fairly young, at six years and very healthy, it took us by surprise, and went so fast. Her disease and her suffering were unbearable for all of us. Blood cancers don’t only kill people, they kill our beautiful pets as well.If you suspect a symptom with your pet, if you have any questions, or doubts, ask your Vet!”

 

For over ten years, locating a Bone Marrow Organization specifically directed towards assisting Indigenous People, Native Americans, or Alaskan Natives, in this Country has eluded me.

Much needed media attention, hype and hyperbole, was showered on the various Blood Cancer and Bone Marrow Groups, by the recent airing on GMA of Robin Robert’s illness, treatment and eventual Bone Marrow transplant.

She put a public face on a relentless, vicious,  killer disease and gave those also suffering from it, hope!

Robin was one of the lucky ones, as her sister turned out to be a perfect match, but for millions of Americans in this Country, there is/was no happy ending, no perfect match for them.

Many Native People on remote Reservations in America,  have two factors that can delay or detract  from them getting the treatment that they so desperately need,  a local Doctor to recommend them and just basic everyday, ordinary access to them.

Often Native Elders have no access to transportation,  or a local Doctor who is able to refer them to the next level of care, or treatment, on their particular Reservation.

This can make getting the help that they need, nearly impossible.

Right now, there are Native People who are suffering in silence and dying,  without ever getting to the help that they need and that is available to them.

According to a graph on the site below,  once Native Americans do get to the Bone Marrow Organizations, their chance of finding a match is right at 90%.

While this number appears to be quite impressive, please remember that this is, if and when they get there!

After contacting a National Bone Marrow Organization, yes the exact same one that was so vital to Ms. Robert’s recovery,  a phone conversation yesterday with their extremely helpful and dedicated, Marketing Director,  yielded much valuable information, that I am now passing along to you.

If you, or anyone you know, is in need, won’t  you please forward this on them, so that they may have a fighting chance against an insidious disease,  that does not discern between its victims, blood cancer, otherwise known as,  Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma.

Here is the asked for and kindly given,  comment from their Director of Marketing, Tanya Wright:

 

“Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma. They desperately hope for a marrow donor who could give them a cure.

Be The Match® connects patients with life-saving donors. And right now, an American Indian or Alaska Native patient in your community likely needs a hero just like you, willing to give a small part of yourself to give someone a cure.

Here are some things you should know:

  • American Indian and Alaska Native patients have a harder time finding a donor than other diverse patients.
  • Patients are most likely to match someone who shares their ancestry, and American Indians and Alaska Natives combined comprise only 1 percent of the registry.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native marrow donors are urgently needed to save patients everywhere.
  • You can be the difference between life and death for someone in need.”

“You can join the national registry now to save a life by visiting BeTheMatch.org, learning more!”

Information about why diversity matters (in relation to marrow transplants)”

http://bethematch.org/Transplant-Basics/Matching-patients-with-donors/Why-race-and-ethnicity-matter/

Thank you!
Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor

Tanya Wright Strategic Marketing Specialist, Supervisor
3001 Broadway Street NE Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55413-1753
Phone: (612) 627-8113  Toll Free: (800) 526-7809 Ext 8113

The cure for blood cancer is in the hands of ordinary peopleSM. BeTheMatch.org.

 

Thank you Tanya, now here are some other places to learn more about these diseases:

National Bone Marrow Transplant Link –   (this is the mother of all Cancer Links, start here)

Event tries to attract black bone marrow donors

The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation – (For Jewish Patients)

The Bone Marrow Foundation

Kinds of Blood Cancer 

American Society of Hematology

Health Resources and Services Administration

Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches

DKMS

 

 

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I am an ALLY, are you?

ally-gay-rights
I AM AN ALLY
Picture credit:  I AM AN ALLY FACEBOOK PAGE

 

I was just about to write about two Endangered Birds this morning,  when this came in my email.

The Birds can wait until tomorrow,  this is much more important to me and millions of others around the world.

First let me say, that I have felt this way since the 60′s, when I lived in L.A., long before it was fashionable to do so.

It was the time of flower children, free love, inspirational speeches and thinking, yes some of it was quite radical as well, and also sadly, way too many really bad drugs.

It was more importantly, a time of a different kind of attitude toward others.

Did the Viet Nam War/Conflict have anything to do with this, probably.

We were all so very young and so very scared.

We had a common bond,  a mantra,  ” trust no one over 30.”

We were afraid of the violence that surrounded us daily and sought what we thought was a better way to be live, to be.

It was a time of gathering of minds, souls and bodies in support of one critical idea, Peace.

We desperately searched for this state of being that was seemingly just out of  our of reach.

Quite understandably, so many from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, came to L.A.  back then in support of what was happening and it was easy to ignore stereotypes, racism and ugliness toward any who were ” different.”

It was the time of,  Hair, the musical that defined an entire generation, and was dedicated to the idea of loving everyone, we were all the same, no color,  or sexual or racial lines, we were united in our determination to stop the prejudice, the violence, the hate and most importantly the killing.

So, today when this came, it simply had to be addressed immediately.

It is who I and millions of others, who were reared up in L.A. in the 60′s,  are/were.

I am now and  will forever be,  AN ALLY.

Won’t you be as well?

And for those who keep asking, I am not a Gator Woman, it is a pseudonym used at WordPress for my Gravatar.

My name is Donna, am so happy to see you here~

 

 

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Violence Against Women

Violenceagainstwoman
Picture credit:  World Health Organization

 

Writing today had not been on my agenda, until while scanning some of the reader comments from yesterday, I noticed that one was from an unfamiliar person.

Being of a curious nature,  I went to his site, and on the right side, was a list of the Blogs that he followed.

I saw a name that intrigued me and clicked on it.

As the page appeared, the very first image that came up,  delivered an instant sickening memory, one that will burn in my mind, in my heart forever.

I knew that I would indeed be writing today.

Neither the horrific image, nor the page, will be shown here, if you look around, it is out there.

It is a picture of two young girls in India who,  they say,  were gang raped and then hung.

Please read that sentence again, will you?

Then try for one moment  to remember what year it is,  this is 2014.

How is it possible, conceivable,  that this kind of abhorrence is still being inflicted on females anywhere?

Yet, it most assuredly is, and  in many places apparently.

The word rape is personal to me, a best friend,  the best friend of my then young son and two close relatives, were all raped.

Men for the most part, can never truly appreciate the fear that is associated with this evil word.

Unless of course they become incarcerated, then …………

But for us, for women, this is a word that we know all too well.

Some better than others.

Rape, whether we admit it or not, is always in the back of our minds.

Will it happen to me?

For women, the world around us has now become so violent, that simply going to the grocery store, can put any one of us at great risk of becoming the victim of a violent act.

Where we live near Orlando, the violent acts against women and children, have now become an ugly, daily occurrence on our local News.

Women and young girls are beaten, raped, car jacked and murdered here on a regular, horrifying basis.

It seems that we/they are not safe anywhere, anymore, not even at home.

All of this brutality, this violence against women, is happening in a State that still has not passed  the ERA, like several other mostly, Southern States.

Does this have any bearing on the outrageous brutality towards women here, maybe.

Although not familiar with the statistics in other states at this time, it has been said repeatedly on our news here, that Florida leads the Nation in violence against women, children and animals.

Sounds like we have a BIG problem here doesn’t it?

But, it is not just here, not just in Florida, not just in America, it is GLOBAL.

The very long list of types of violent acts against women is simply staggering.

And, it has been going on since the beginning of time.

In India, wives died in their husband’s  funeral pyres in a practice known as  sati.

Young girls are still suffering right now with female  genital mutilation.

A shock today was learning that  Ethiopia has the highest incidence of violence against women.

But when you consider the absolute, abject poverty there, is it really so surprising after all?

It appears that violence against others is much more prevalent where there is great poverty.

This makes perfect sense in a way.

If a person, assuming the perpetrator of the violent act is a male, is out of work, perhaps for a very long time, desperate and suffering from extreme low self-esteem, any one could then potentially become the target of a violent act.

A wife, a child, a pet could become the victim of violent, out of control, rage.

Regardless of the triggering point, this is absolutely not acceptable behavior under any conditions.

But, back to the point.

We on this Planet have a very serious problem with violence against women.

America has just finally passed, for all of the good it has apparently done, the VAW ACT.

Yet every single day, here and all across this country and the world, women and children become victims, another statistic, while waiting for this VAW  ACT, the judicial system that continues to fail them and yes all of us too, to save their lives.

Women go to court trying to get legal protection, in the form of a piece of useless paper, called a restraining order, and are murdered anyway.

So, what is the solution?

Well, if we wait for a legal solution, I truly don’t believe that it can or will, ever be the answer.

The answer I believe, is within ourselves.

We must change our basic nature, we must get to the roots of all humans and their eons old, errant thinking.

We must all, each and every one of us, be taught from birth, from our Mother’s, yes and most importantly from our Father’s knee, that each of us is valuable, each of us is worthy of being loved and each of us is important.

Once we as a species, begin to feel good, or at least not bad,  about who and what we are, only then can we truly accept and love each other and stop the violence against women.

 

Places to learn more:

The Violence Against Women Act

International Violence Against Women Act

Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women Laws

Women Against Abuse

Domestic Violence – Legal Protection From Abuse 

 

 

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Helen Hunt Jackson

HelenHuntJackson
Helen Hunt Jackson
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

Watching the B/W version of the 1936 film  Ramona  last night, was a double-edged sword, it was such a beautiful story of love and devotion, but it was also extremely sad.

It was wonderful at last, to see the visual of the world-famous classic on the big screen.

The film starred Loretta Young as Ramona, who is completely captivating and steals every scene that she is in.

This book and the movie, spawned an annual event  that now brings thousands to the re-creation every year.

They also did so much to express the horrors of the oppressed lives of the California Mission, actually all Indians, in America at the time and the reaction to it was immediate.

Helen Hunt Jackson,  a name that she desperately tried to have removed from her writings,  as she believed it was ” rude ” to keep a former marriage name, was to become the most famous/infamous American female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that she chose a highly unpopular, even dangerous subject:  civility towards American Indians by the US Government.

One of the things that she did,  that made her unforgettable and evermore endearing to me,  was her brazen delivery to every single member of Congress,  a copy of her Cultural/Political blast,  A Century of Dishonor.

This single act made her an instant enemy to nearly every politician in America.

Her hope was that this book would expose the wrongs and help to correct them.

When this failed to achieve her goals, she went to California and became entrenched in Native life there long enough to learn all that she needed to write an even more important work that WOULD finally achieve her goal.

She wrote Ramona!

 

But I digress, here is an earlier Biography that I wrote about her when I was taking books to the masses all over this country, to enlighten the, for the most part,  poorly, culturally educated,  general public about the truth concerning the History and Culture of Native Americans.

 

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Her father was a strict minister/professor at Amherst College and both of her parents died when she was barely in her teens.

She was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Brother’s School in New York City.

Fellow classmate Emily Dickinson became a lifelong friend.

Although Jackson’s personal life was filled with tragedy, her first husband was killed and her two young sons both died, the strength of her legacy remains in her passionate writing about the maltreatment of Native Americans.

 

An excellent full length biography of her life is here.

 

The glass ceiling biographies, a wonderful place that has now gone away, wrote this about Helen:

“Helen wrote many books, articles, poems and stories, but her place in history was secured with her 2 most famous books,

Ramona, a romantic tragedy that quickly became a best-selling novel about a young California Indian couple and A Century of Dishonor, a searing exposé on the shameful treatment of Indians by the Government.

After completing it, Jackson delivered a copy to every member of Congress, chastising them with these words, written in red:

“Look upon your hands: They are stained with the blood of your relations.”

The book did not make her a celebrity, on the contrary, it was to be years efore it was appreciated or applauded by most of her contemporaries.

Jackson’ s writing was courageous and many women since have followed her example by also writing about contemptuous Indian issues.”

 

 

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My Father

roberts

My father Robert M. Skirvin, Sr. in his uniform of the US Navy.

 

This is the first Memorial Day that I have known who my father was.

His identity was just learned this past Christmas Eve, after a lifetime of searching.

So on this day created to Honor all those who serve or have served this country in the military,

I am proud to,  at long last, be able to Honor him.

Robert Melville Skirvin, Sr. was born in Bloomington, Indiana and served in the United States Navy.

For all of you who put your lives in mortal danger, on a daily basis, while being separated from your family and loved ones for such long periods of time in service to your Country, we owe you everything, we owe you our very lives.

Memorial Day is not about hamburgers, it is about Heroes.

It is about those who proudly put on the uniform of a branch of our military every single day and who give everything, so that we may all be free.

It is terrifying to ponder what this country,  or even the entire world,  would be like today, without the sacrifices that each of you unselfishly makes for us.

To all who serve, or have served, we Honor you on Memorial Day everywhere in America and indeed, throughout the World, for what you do and have done.

May God Bless you all~

And to the father that I never knew, I am so very proud that your were a part of this and although we never met, I love you.

 

 

 

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The True Cost of Your Food!

migrantchildren

The year  is 1941 and these are the children of Migrant Farm Workers in California.
Picture credit: Library of Congress, Robert Hemmig.

 

As you sit to eat each day, do you ever think about where the food on your table comes from?

Perhaps not, but maybe you should.

The United States has millions of Migrant Farm Workers whose sole means of survival, is to put that very food on your table.

And how do we thank them for this life-giving nourishment?

The truth is not very pleasant, nor often even humane.

The work that they do is back-breaking, with very low pay or sometimes,  even no pay.

They have no health insurance and few rights and even fewer who care what happens to them at all.

Yet, without these Migrant Farm Workers who suffer in silence, we would have nothing, or very little, on our dinner tables in America.

I know of no one who would do the work that they do,  no one!

Would you?

If they are lucky, they and their children will hopefully survive it all.

As most of you who follow my two Blogs know, I lived in Southern California  for over 30 years.

My education was in Anthropology, and my opportunity to learn about Migrant Workers came easily because of these two facts.

My last semester at CSUN was a rewarding one, the hard part was all done and the classes that remained were ones that gave me the chance to study what really meant the most to me, people.

Over the years, I had met and become friends with many Hispanics in California, some were legal residents, many were not, but they were all the same to me, kind, warm and family loving people,  that I enjoyed being with and knowing.

The first  “free study”  Class that I did was about the Migrant Farm Workers who lived and worked in Southern California.

I spent countless weekends for six months,  all over LA talking to and learning about, the way these people lived and worked.

They were so forthcoming in offering me the chance to understand the hard lives that they and their families lived.

In these interviews, the people who talked to me were always men,  their wives and children were still in Mexico and they sent them as much as they could each week.

This was the saddest part of the lesson learned, many times the men would get onto trucks and work for an entire day in a field somewhere, only to be dropped off and told that they would be paid the next day.

But, that never happened they said,  because the next day the nasty people who did this,  always chose another street and another group of unsuspecting victims.

Usually, these men lived as many as 8-10 to a room, sharing what they had,  just trying to survive and send money home.

They were victimized by “legal” Americans who cared nothing for them of their families, but only used them.

The workers of course,  could not complain, as so many of them were not here legally and those who cheated them, were quite well aware of this fact.

This was in the mid 1990’s.

What I did not know about at the time of these interviews,  was all that had been done to those who came before them.

Migrant Farm Workers coming to pick food in California began shortly after the two World Wars,  first in the early 1900’s and then later, in the 1950’s, with the Bracero Program.

California advertised everywhere to bring people there to pick the exploding orange and fruit harvests for the owners who were desperate for pickers.

Those who came, were promised many things and in the beginning they were treated fairly well.

Although unbelievably,  I just learned today, they were sprayed with DDT at the Borders.

But then later after the worker shortage slowed down around the mid 1960’s, things began to change and conditions for the pickers became most unbearable.

Just about this time,  Cesar Chavez began his lifetime of dedication to improving  Farm Worker’s Rights.

He would fight this good fight,  until his death and made such a tremendous difference in their lives.

But silently waiting in the dark shadows all during this time was a sinister evil that few suspected, until it was out of control.

Pesticide poisoning was now rampant among the farm workers, their families and the places where they lived.

There is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, called  McFarland, where not so long ago, the rate of leukemia among the children there under six, was nearly 80% and many blamed this on the over use of pesticides throughout this entire farming region.

This town is right smack in the middle of the Big Valley, which we Californians jokingly called the “salad bowl of America” because just about everything in a salad came from there.

What no one talked about back then,  however, was the amount of pesticides and the harm they caused, used everywhere in this  Great Valley,  that  all of this wonderful food required to be delivered to America’s dinner tables.

The people who bring you your food and their families,  have paid a great price for this, many paid the ultimate price.

So, now that you know the true cost of your food, perhaps the next time you and your family sit down to dinner, you may say a silent thank you to the Migrant Farm Workers who brought it to you.

 

Places to learn more:

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Protect Farmworkers From Pesticide Poisonings

California goes mobile to educate farm workers on pesticide safety

Pesticides and Childhood Cancer

Heavy Lift

Florida Farm Workers Allege Pesticide Exposure Is Giving Them Cancer

A Poisoned Culture: the case of the Indigenous Huicholes Farm Workers

Farm Workers Demand Protections From Pesticide Poisoning

Long-awaited EPA pesticide protections a ‘mixed bag’

Farmworkers plagued by pesticides

Farmworkers

 

 

 

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