This week, journalist and photographer David Bacon sledgehammers a hole in the wall, revealing the 750,000 farm workers in California hidden from view. Their labor is performed away from where most of us work; few of us sleep in their conditions, but they are still our neighbors. Through storytellers like Bacon, it is possible that we, us and them, could be so much more.
Nearly ¼ of those farm workers come from small communities in Mexico; these are native communities with a history and culture predating European discovery and exploitation by 1000 years. In California fields, a rich linguistic history can be traced and explored; nearly two dozen languages can be heard on any given day – evidence of a rich, diverse culture going nearly unnoticed. What we see today, in terms of working conditions and divisions between classes of people, are the result of choices made hundreds of years ago to create an unequal system.
Photo by David Bacon
Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves: Why do we keep this system in place? Who benefits? Who continues to suffer?
How about this? What if these million or so people were welcomed in the world? How much richer would American society become when these dozens of voices, perspectives, ways of seeing the world, became part of who we are instead of something we hide? How much longer can these walls stand?
To see Trabajamos/We Work: In the Fields of the North, get to Riverside Art Museum, before April 11th, www.riversideartmuseum.org
To buy the book, go to www.ucpress.edu/9780520296077 and use source code 16M4197 at checkout to save 30% or buy at the Blue Door Store inside #RiversideArtMuseum