Culture

The People In The Fields: Coachella Valley Farm Worker Documentary Project

In the background, silent, with worn faces and weathered hands, a group of people pick produce or fruit, sorting or packing goods. “Bultos,” says Noé Montes, a Los Angeles-based photographer. A bulge in the ground, that’s how most people imagine farm workers, he says.



Montes, who grew up in a family of farmworkers that labored in California’s Central and San Joaquin Valleys, started taking photos of farmworkers early on in his career and mainly on his personal time. But after applying and being awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he narrowed his initial idea of doing a statewide farmworker photo project down to the Coachella Valley area.



He eventually settled on an idea: the Coachella Valley Farm Workers project.





Montes interviewed and photographed 15 residents throughout a two-year span starting in 2015. All of them come from different backgrounds. Some immigrated to the US under the Bracero program, others came undocumented looking for work in the fields, and some were children of farm workers that went to college and now returned in hopes of uplifting their community.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Jeronimo Estrada- Jeronimo was born in 1962 in the state of Guerrero in Mexico. Among the reasons he left school was that he had started to see Mexico as a failed state and realized that an education would not necessarily pull him out of poverty, “Many people in Mexico have to live resigned to poverty.” Over the years he walked the hundred mile distance between the U.S-Mexico border to the Coachella Valley six or seven times, sometimes in the desert heat, he says it’s what you had to do. Jeronimo came to the U.S. to work in the fields, he has raised a family and bought a home and he continues to work in the fields. Jeronimo’s son, Castulo, is the Assistant Engineer for Coachella, CA and the Vice President of the Board of the Coachella Valley Water District. In this position Castulo is involved in making decisions and recommendations as to how Riverside County’s resources get allocated. For the first time in history, the population of the Eastern Coachella Valley has a seat at the table when decisions about services and infrastructure are being made. —See the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress

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Montes said he didn’t want to show the common image of a farmworker hunched over in the fields, but an intimate side of their lives at home, at a playground where they grew up, or with their partners.



“They’re not a symbol of poverty or a metaphor for inequality,” Montes said. “They’re people.”



Coachella Valley Farm Workers- Juan Torres and Margarita Torres- Working in the fields is hard arduous work that many people do for their entire lives. There is no health insurance and there are no retirement plans. People work until their bodies can’t do it anymore and then they have to figure out how they are going to survive the rest of their lives. If they are lucky they have a little bit of savings or their family helps them. Some people have Medi-Cal or Medicaid but most people don’t. Many retired farmworkers live on only the few hundred dollars they receive from social security every month. Margarita Torres. Juan’s wife, passed away in 2015. —Read the rest of his profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #healthcarereform

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Montes said that he understands that life working the fields is tough. Many of the issues that farmworkers were fighting over 50 years ago — like shading or bathrooms — or dealing with — homelessness, domestic violence — are still the ones seen in their lives.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Silvia Paz- Silvia photographed where she grew up in La Peña, a mobile home park just southeast of the town of Mecca California. Half of her family stayed in the border town of Mexicali because they did not have legal residency in the United States. Her mother worked in the fields in the Coachella Valley in order to sustain both households. She remembers her childhood as carefree but as she started growing up she began to think about inequality. Her mother’s situation seemed especially unfair to her and she began to question the fairness of a system in which there was such a lack of opportunity for people with very limited resources. Silvia excelled in school and received a B.A. in English from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University with the goal of returning to the Eastern Coachella Valley to work for the betterment of her community. Currently she is interested in trying some of the ideas of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity in the valley. These ideas stem from the fact that many of the countries current policies and systems reflect institutional racism that was in place when those systems were developed, to address this the decision-making matrix in government moving forward should include an equity analysis. —Read the rest of Silvia’s profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #GovernmentAllianceonRaceandEquity

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Yet, his upbringing gave him an appreciation for the social assets that farmworkers possess.



“Because I grew up in that community I know what those people are like: very intelligent, very sophisticated thinkers. They have so much to give to their own community but also to society in a larger way, our understanding of each other,” Montes said.





Montes is currently working on exhibitions locally to showcase his photos.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers Maria Machuca (photographed with her father Simon Machuca) Maria credits people working before her in the community as people with vision and sees herself as part of that continuum. She is loving and protective of her community and tries to balance progress with tradition. Her experience has taught her that through a process of building relationships with people that are different than you things get accomplished. “If you do the work, change happens”. She does the work, day after day, year after year. Seeing the positive change in her community nurtures her and gives her energy. — Read the rest of Maria's profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio — #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community

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For now, he’s posting regular updates on his Instagram.





Visit the Coachella Valley Farm Workers Project here.

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Netflix Finally Gave Us The Release Date For “Selena: The Series” And Fans Can’t Wait

Entertainment

Netflix Finally Gave Us The Release Date For “Selena: The Series” And Fans Can’t Wait

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One of the most popular and cathartic things to do in the time of Covid is to binge watch shows on streaming platforms. Why drag something out when you can watch an entire season in a day? Well, Selena fans now have one more thing to binge after Netflix announced the release date for “Selena: The Series.”

The world will forever change after Dec. 4.

Netflix is finally releasing the highly anticipated show “Selena: The Series” and we are so stoked to finally see it. The show has been on the radar of Selena fans everywhere since it was announced in 2018. We have all patiently waited for two years to finally see this show.

This is not a drill. This is not a prank. This is a gift from the entertainment deities who want to make sure that we all have something to make these hard times better. All you need is access to a Netflix account, doesn’t matter whose, and the enduring love for Selena that most of us have.

People are marking their calendars for a big day in entertainment.

That’s right. Netflix is releasing “Selena: The Series” and Disney+ is releasing “Mulan” for Disney+ subscribers at no extra charge after trying to rent it for $30 through the app. Dec. 4 is gearing up to be one of the most exciting days for people who just don’t want to leave the house during the current Covid pandemic. What a time to be a live, huh?

Netflix knows exactly what they are doing by releasing this show.

This show is approved by the Quintanilla family so there is that. This show was announced at the same time that Telemundo announced that the Spanish-language network was releasing their own series “El Secreto De Selena.”

The Telemundo show was based on the book written by journalist María Celeste Arrarás. The family has vehemently denied the accusations made in the book multiple times and Telemundo’s decision to make the series, which aired in 2018, angered viewers.

We have been promised a story about Selena that we have not seen in the past.

The Netflix series will not be rehashing what we have already seen. We know the story of Selena’s musical rise and tragic death thanks to “Selena” with J.Lo.

“Selena: The Series” is going to be showing us the life of a young Selena before the fame and musical career. It is truly amazing that after all of these years, there are still new stories to be told about Selena and her important place in American Latino history.

“Before she became the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla was a young girl from Texas with big dreams and an even bigger voice,” reads the description of the show. “The two-part coming-of-age drama ‘Selena: The Series’ explores the once-in-a-generation performer’s journey as a young artist, from singing small gigs in Corpus Christi with her family to becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time — and the years of grit and sacrifice the Quintanilla family navigated together before Selena’s meteoric rise to fame.”

So, mark your calendars and gather your loved ones.

This day should be a holiday as we all know that Selena is one of the greatest unifiers in the Latino community. We still sing her songs to this day and her legacy is being passed down to younger Latinos. Selena gave us representations before we knew we wanted and needed it.

It’s like we can already hear those old-school Selena y Los Dinos songs playing in our heads. Dec. 4 can’t get here fast enough and that’s a fact.

READ: Chris Perez Says He’s In the Dark When It Comes To Netflix’s ‘Selena: The Series’

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Things That Matter

Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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