The Diary of Joaquín Magón-Entry 5
The State of California recently announced its decision to investigate the causes behind the recent deaths of farm workers this year. The latest of these deaths came from Blythe. A big news story? Not really.
Throughout the world news such as this is looked over by newspapers and media corporations like businessmen passing by homeless men who hold out their hands and beg for change.
The truth is the media lost focus of what is important, of who it serves, of what its role in a democratic society is. The truth is the media lost its sense of truth and reality.
As Sub-Commandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation or Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN) said in an interview:
“… The world of contemporary news is a world that exists for the VIPs. The everyday lives of the major movie stars and big politicians. If they get married, if they divorce, if they eat, if they take their clothes off.
But common people only appear for a moment when they kill someone or when they die. For the communication giants and the neoliberal powers, the others, the excluded, only exist when they are dead, or when they are in jail or in court.”
I look at the world and I look at myself. I walk through the foggy fields of Salinas and I see the workers in the fields. As I lay awake, they stand working. Their hands move in the same celestial rhythm that followed their fathers into their sleep and made them dream of an escape. A smooth and fast motion to swipe, pick, pack, throw, bag, box, carry, repeat. Their backs grow old and they work here because they are forgotten, stuck in a whirlpool of repetition, of debt and neglect, of endless rows of economic prosperity hidden within a promise that has forsaken them.
Textbooks forget them. News anchors speak of celebrities, and commercials try to sell us food that is bad for us and big screen TV’s we do not need.
I look with saddened eyes at the society I was brought up in and the labels that were imparted upon me: Non-white, non-old, non-WASP, non-native, non-a lot of things that push me towards a self-interested ideology with a twist of a non-welcome sort of values compelled and composed to decompose the will into complacency; a society that places more value in the material than on the human soul.
I would like to think that this isn’t real. That the world I am spoon fed is fake and that I live in a society that cares for farm workers, for voting, for the true meaning of a democracy—that stops wars with votes and stops bullets with love.
I would like to think that increased police crackdowns on poverty-stricken communities are not the answer and that education is a greater weapon than a hand grenade. I’d like to think that xenophobia was eliminated and that a common person has more space in the media than a celebrity. I’d like to think that, but reality is backwards—movie stars and celebrities in the virtual world are real and human lives and home-sick hope is a dream.
What is to be done? Because that is not just the way it is. And that’s the thing about farm workers. Most of them are immigrants and if they believed that things are the way they are “just because” and nothing could be done to change their reality, they would not have made the long trek across deserts, rivers, and oceans. They would not have walked in spite of fear and the thought that they might not make it across alive.
I’m not saying that they are all devoted revolutionary seekers of truth. But they have a love for life and a soul that is ready to fight that is trapped beneath a layer of fear and a forgotten voice. It’s a long journey to where they are and a lot won’t risk losing it, so they don’t speak up.
But what happens when you eliminate that fear? What happens when you give a person the proper incentive to raise their voice and take, to pick up a book and question, to write and inflict a mind with an idea so great it speaks and grows into a world that cannot be forgotten? That disobeys when told to buy? I don’t know what happens actually. But that’s half the fun. I’m here to find out.
Sub-Commandante Marcos in his interview said another thing too. He said that in order to fight this virtual encroachment where media monopolies strive for profit and not for truth we must use the independent media. Media such as Coachella Unincorporated. Because the Coachella Valley isn’t too far off from a fairly tale land—the West is seen and the East is forgotten.
So what is to be done is neither a question that expects an immediate answer nor a rhetorical one—it’s a question that we mold and chew, and flip with our tongues, consider, figure out, revise, rethink, review, rewind, shape into a question that leads to question and then into an answer that is shaped like a spear ready to cut through doubt and spark consciousness. The word is a powerful form to educate and to flee from that virtual world that encroaches and does not let us be free to think and mold and chew on our own.
“Joaquín Magón” is a youth reporter from Coachella living in Salinas and working for the United Farm Workers. He will contribute blogs regularly for Coachella Unincorporated.