Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Statue Of Bigotry

I can really relate to this story as I work as an "agricultural laborer" for a few months a year. I enjoy it, because I love the work, but it's the quality of the conditions I work in. The folks I work for may not pay me the top dollar, but they respect my work. They feed me well, they house me in a decaying chateau. I work hard, but if I so much as sneeze, they are there for me. I work with a multi national crew...French, Dutch, Algerian, Moroccan, English and me the sole American. I love the work and am inspired to work harder because I know I am respected and I am shown respect.  I find it so troubling that agricultural workers in America are treated as expendable slave labor. In a few states they have even tried to use forced prison labor to pick up the slack of their xenophobia...and utterly failed.  It's racism, it's classic social oppression. It's a social mental disease that infects the entire society.  How dare they put breathing above the needs of the people they work for?
No wonder they were tossed out!
A group of agricultural workers in southern California lost their jobs last week when they took shelter to escape the ash-filled air blowing down on them ahead of one of the wildfires currently blazing in that state. According to NBC Los Angeles, 15 workers went inside to escape the smoke, which was interfering with their ability to breathe. When they returned to work the next day, they were informed that they had been fired.
“The smoke was very bad. There’s no doubt about that,” said Lauro Barrajas, one of the workers, who are represented by the United Farm Workers union.
The wildfire, dubbed the Springs Fire was growing out of control in Camarillo Springs, California on Thursday, May 2. The workers, employees of Crisalida Farms in Oxnard, located 11 miles south of the fire’s center, began to cough and experience lowered visibility as smoke and ash rained down on them.
Even as the air quality in the fields declined, a foreman told the workers that if they walked off the job, they would not have jobs to come back to. When they returned on May 3, they were told that they were fired.
Farm representatives made a statement to Latin TV network Telemundo that the workers had clocked out without permission with orders still to be filled, hence the firing.
Union reps, including Barrajas, met with the farm’s managers and applied a union rule, “No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger.”
Crisalida Farms settled with the union and offered the workers their jobs back, but all but one declined. The others have since taken jobs on other farms where they feel they are safer.

I immediately thought of the Lou Reed song, Dirty Boulevard....Lou is from Queens, but there's something in the honesty of his lyrics...this goy has been writing great American Pop Music since he was a teen in the 60's. The phrase in this song, The Statue of Bigotry seemed to sum it all up for me...
Here's the lyrics if you want them after the break:

Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
he looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
his father beats him 'cause he's too tired to beg

He's got 9 brothers and sisters
they're brought up on their knees
it's hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
but that's a slim chance he's going to the boulevard

He's going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
he's going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, to the dirty boulevard

This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
you can believe it man it's true
somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard

Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
going out, to the dirty boulevard
He's going down, on the dirty boulevard
going out

Outside it's a bright night
there's an opera at Lincoln Center
movie stars arrive by limousine
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
but the lights are out on the Mean Streets

A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
he's selling plastic roses for a buck
The traffic's backed up to 39th street
the TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he's found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly away
I want to fly
Fly, fly away
I want to fly
Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh...)
Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)

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