Fierce

The Daughter Of Farmworkers Wins $100K Prize To Help Her Community

Maria Blancas grew up the child of farmworkers and saw the impacts of their work in real-time. She even worked on farms when she was in high school picking apples and onion seeds. It wasn’t until she got to college that she realized how little people truly understood about her community and their lives. So, she dedicated her studies to the lives and conditions of farmworkers and it paid off.

Maria Blancas is a Ph.D student at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Credit: @NinaShapiro / Twitter

Blancas grew up with migrant farmworker parents from Mexico. She helped on the farms and watched as the other farmworkers dealt with the physical nature of the job. However, in her undergraduate years, according to The Seattle Times, Blancas realized people had oversimplified the lives and struggles of the people she was working with.

Blancas has dedicated her education to improve the lives of her family and all others working in the fields.

Credit: @UWEnvironment / Twitter

According to The Seattle Times, Blancas wants to change the narrative around what is happening to the farmworkers’ community. Her aim is to create a fuller and more in-depth picture of the lives and “issues” within the community as the work in the fields.

Her work so far won her a $100,000 prize from the Bullitt Foundation to focus on furthering her work.

Credit: seattletimes / Twitter

The Bullitt Foundation aims to “safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest,” according to the website.

In that effort, the foundation is giving Blancas a significant grant to allow her to focus on her work.

“When people ask me why I do the work that I do,” Blancas told The Seattle Times. “I always think about my family: mi familia.”

The Bullitt Prize is different than most awards and prizes.

Credit: @UWBridgesCenter / Twitter

Bullitt Foundation President Denis Hayes told The Seattle Times that the prize a “reverse Nobel Peace Prize” in that it doesn’t reward people on their overall work. Instead, the foundation looks for people with potential and awards them at the early stages of their careers based on where their work could go.

Blancas has already done work within her community by surveying the community during her time working at the local community college.

The Seattle Times reports that Blancas noticed that some people would go to her community and conduct studies of the workers. However, the groups would leave and never share the results. So, Blancas teamed up with other researchers and did a survey of 350 farmworkers from Whatcom and Skagit to see what was happening, who they were, and what they needed.

Blancas and the team compiled the results of the study, called “Nothing About Us Without Us,” and shared them in a video.

The team discovered that “40 percent of the workers identified as indigenous peoples, mostly from Mexico, and about a quarter couldn’t read Spanish. Its findings, in keeping with academic conventions, quantified problems: 40 percent said they didn’t always have regular breaks, 20 percent lacked consistent access to water, and 60 percent hadn’t seen a doctor in the past year.”

Blancas is planning a dissertation that will incorporate video of farmworker testimonials.

Blancas will be hosting a workshop to teach farmworkers how to create the videos for the dissertation.

READ: A New Documentary Is Shedding Light On The Labor Organizer Who Fought For Farmworkers Before Dolores Huerta

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Maluma And Eva Longoria Are Just Two Of The Huge Names Joining A Virtual Cinco De Mayo Event That You Definitely Want To Join

Things That Matter

Maluma And Eva Longoria Are Just Two Of The Huge Names Joining A Virtual Cinco De Mayo Event That You Definitely Want To Join

Sony Entertainment / Maluma

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to shelter in place from the safety of their homes. Meanwhile, millions of others are on the frontlines keeping this country running. They’re now known as “essential workers” and they’re made up of healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, fast food attendants, line cooks at local restaurants, janitors, meat processing plant workers, and agricultural workers.

These roles now deemed “essential” all have one thing in common – they employ a higher percentage of immigrant and undocumented workers than most other segments of the economy. 

And with Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, there is a star-studded event taking place that we all need to show up to – even if we don’t get out of our sweatpants.

Farmworkers and the undocumented community are more vulnerable now than ever – and they need your help.

Credit: Paul Sanders / Flickr

More than an estimated three million farmworkers are on the frontlines, helping support the global food supply. And they’re doing it during a global health crisis.

About 50% of the agricultural workforce is comprised of undocumented immigrants. Because of the nature of their work, physical distancing is difficult to abide by as is handwashing and other CDC requirements. They’re also missing required protective gear, including masks. All while having to face the constant fear of deportation.

And while the government has stepped up in some ways to help those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic – they are specifically excluding undocumented workers (even those deemed essential) from receiving federal aid.

And that’s where Altísimo Live comes in!

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

In an effort to provide for farmworkers throughout the U.S., RetroPop Media and iHeartLatino joined forces to develop Altísimo Live!. Together with the iHeartLatino Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Enrique Santos, Eva Longoria will host this huge, star-studded concert, which will feature some of the biggest Latino artists.

So how do you attend a virtual event?

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

Altísimo Live is a free event but its organizers are asking for $5 donations from viewers in an effort to support the community. All you have to do. Is text “Cinco” to 91999 or you can donate directly to the Farmworkers’ Pandemic Relief Fund. They hope to raise $3 million to provide care and supplies to farmworkers and their families.

The bilingual event kicks off across the concert’s official social media pages: Facebook LiveYouTubeTwitter, Periscope, and Twitch simultaneously on Tuesday, May 5th at 1 p.m. ET. They’re going to lead the event off with an interactive tailgating experience and then sets of continuous performances. There will even be interactive Q&As between artists and their fans at 8 p.m. ET.

All from the comfort of your own home.

And trust, this is one you’re going to want to tune into.

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

The long list of celebrities performing includes Maluma, Becky G, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jesse & Joy, A.B. Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia Allstarz, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Nicky Jam, Maná, Ivy Queen, Los Tigres del Norte, Carlos Vives, and Marc Anthony and others. Additionally, Sofia Vergara, J Balvin, Kate del Castillo, Rosario Dawson, and Alejandro Sanz will make appearances.

Fashion designers Mario De la Torre, Carlos Marrero, and Raul Peñaranda, will also join the event to share how they are using their talent and unique designs in support of the pandemic relief effort. Some of their special edition farmworker-inspired designs will be available for purchase in support of the event.

How else can you show love for the community?

Credit: AltísimoLive / Instagram

So although the event is free, the organizers are looking to raise that $3 million at $5 a person. Incredible! But in addition to donating, you can also show your support for the event by blasting it across your social media using #AltisimoLive, #CincoOnCinco and #SupportFarmworkers.

Some of the event’s proceeds will also benefit Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, NC Fields, La Cooperativa Campesina de California, LULAC of Puerto Rico, La Union del Pueblo Entero in Texas and more.

However, the concert series isn’t just about raising money for farmworkers. It’s also a reminder that they are appreciated and that we as a community have their back.

You can also wear your support on your sleeve!

Credit: Mitú

You can also literally wear your support for farmworkers on your sleeve and help support the event’s organizations. Mitú has launched a womens, mens and kids t-shirt line with the Farmworkers Are Always Essential slogan on them. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the sale of every t-shirt on the Mitú shop will go to the Farmworkers Pandemic Relief Fund.

Tune in to Altísimo Live! on Tuesday, May 5th starting at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET.

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California Farmworkers Treated To Touching ‘Farmworkers Appreciation Caravan’

Culture

California Farmworkers Treated To Touching ‘Farmworkers Appreciation Caravan’

Sal Lua / Facebook

No matter what is happening in the world, farmworkers are always there to make sure that we have food. We have seen images of farmworkers in the fields during wildfires and other natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different and some people have come together to show them some love.

Farmworkers are still in the fields harvesting produce so we can all have food while sheltering at home.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

Farmworkers have been deemed as essential during the pandemic and they are still in the fields picking the fruits and vegetables we all need during this time. Unlike most people, the farmworkers, who are largely migrants, are risking their health to make sure that we all have the food we all want and need.

One group of farmworkers got a moment of love and appreciation from people who rely on them.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

Despite being deemed essential and being given paperwork that lists them as essential, they are still not protected. According to The New York Times, the same workers deemed as essential are still at risk every day of being arrested, detained, and deported because of their immigration status.

The small parade of love has received national attention on social media.

The photos came from a farm in California, which has a high undocumented population, especially among farmworkers. According to data on undocumented immigrant stimulus checks offered, there are about 2.3 million undocumented people living in California.

People in the mini parade held signs offering messages of love and appreciation for the people working in the fields.

Credit: Sal Lua / Facebook

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have both called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a plan to help detainees during this time. Immigration and criminal justice reform advocates fear the devastating impact COVID-19 could have on people currently detained.

“Immigration detention should not be a death sentence,” Andrea Flores, ACLU deputy director of policy, Equality Division said in a statement. “Detention in ICE facilities is inherently dangerous as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic, and ICE has demonstrated it is unable to provide safe and sanitary conditions — even in the best of circumstances. This extraordinary public health crisis compels an extraordinary response. Temporarily suspending enforcement and releasing those in detention is necessary both for the safety of detainees and staff and to flatten the curve for all.”

The group, called the Farmworker Appreciation Caravan, is doing more than showing support.

The group is raising money to help farmworkers and their families during this time. The farmworkers are not paid much for their jobs and the strain from a pandemic could bring financial stress under which most Americans are struggling. This bit of help from the community could change the world for some of the families.

The images are being met with an admiration for the farmworkers.

“Thank you to your hands who are making it possible for us to get food to our table,” one Twitter user said. “Thank you so much for your hard work.”

READ: More Than A Million Farmworkers Are Putting Themselves At Risk During The Coronavirus Pandemic And Here’s Why

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