Mundie Moms

Thursday, May 7, 2020

WE ARE POWER by Todd Hasak-Lowy | BLOG TOUR GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY




Welcome to the We Are Power Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of We Are Power by Todd Hasak-Lowy, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Todd and profiles of key figures in social activism history from We Are Power, as well as 5 chances to win a finished copy!


Cesar Chavez and The Farmworkers Movement
by Todd Hasak-Lowy

The farmworkers movement started from absolutely nothing.  Before they rose to form a union, Cesar Chavez and his people weren't just powerless, they were invisible.  This short snipper from my book details the awful conditions they sought to challenge through the creation of potent nonviolent movement.

At first they were nothing. There were hundreds of thousands of Mexican American farmworkers —many the children and grandchildren of immigrants brought legally to the United States in the first half of the twentieth century to work in California’s ever-expanding fields—but together they were nothing. 

Each morning they’d take their short-handled hoes, only eighteen inches long, and set out for the fields, where they’d work, bent over from dawn to dusk, until they couldn’t stand up straight. When they got thirsty laboring in the hundred-degree heat, they’d drink filthy water from an irrigation ditch. When they had to go to the bathroom, they searched for some privacy, which in a wide-open field was often nowhere at all. 

If they were lucky they’d get paid half the minimum wage, because farm workers weren’t protected under federal labor laws. The contractor who did the hiring might cheat them on their hours or tell them they hadn’t worked hard enough. He’d pay them whatever he wanted, and there wasn’t a thing they could do. 

They couldn’t just go home at the end of another long, backbreaking day in the fields either. Earning at most a few dollars for a dozen or more hours of work, they couldn’t afford a permanent home. But even if they could, they wouldn’t be able to stay there for long. These workers were migrants, following the crops and the growing seasons wherever they took them, up and down the giant state of California. Home was the road, or wherever they could find a place to sleep in the middle of a job. Under a bridge, on a riverbank, or in a dirty, crowded migrant camp, where the “houses” might be built from cardboard, where there was no electricity, where a single faucet had to be shared by hundreds of people. 

Carrots in the winter only miles from the Mexican border, grapes farther north as spring approached, cherries an hour east of Los Angeles in May, apricots up near San Jose in the early summer, back down toward Fresno for cucumbers in August, and then south for cotton until the end of the year. Each job inflicted its own damage. Dry, cracked, calloused fingers; bent, crooked backs; and, thanks to potent pesticides, red eyes, itchy skin, and who knew what else in the places no one could see. And if a worker got hurt on the job, well, too bad. 

Many workers didn’t live to see fifty. 

Maybe it would all be worth it if their children lived to see a better life. If the parents’ sacrifice paid off in the end, if the American dream was available to these Mexican Americans, too. But how could a girl get a true education if she had to change schools every few months in order to follow her parents across the state? And what would a boy learn if he had to leave school forever at the age of twelve and head to the fields him- self, because his parents, despite rarely taking a single day off, didn’t earn enough to support their family? For farm workers, life was a vicious cycle, the poverty handed down from generation to generation. 

Most of them were too tired, too hungry, too poor, too busy, and too dejected searching for the next day’s work to think about making things better. On those rare occasions when they tried, when they demanded better working conditions and higher wages, they were fired, or worse. The growers cared little about their workers, seeing them less as people than as “just another item in producing products, like fertilizer or boxes or water.” 

Even worse for the farmworkers, the growers had the politicians and the police on their side, and when that wasn’t enough they had the money to pay enforcers ready to meet the farmworkers’ demands with violence. Organizers went to jail, were beaten, or even killed. 

So it’s no wonder that a federal report in 1939 found “a shocking degree of human misery among farmworkers.” But most Americans knew little about it. They went to their local supermarkets, bought grapes, water- melons, and lettuce, ignorant of the suffering that filled their shelves. 

Most white Americans at least knew about the plight of African Americans. They knew about slavery, the Civil War, and the ongoing issue of segregation. Farmworkers didn’t work in the homes of white Americans. They rarely lived in their communities, or even at the edges of them, and when they did, they faced their own whites only signs. Many farmworkers didn’t yet speak English very well, if at all, so how could they tell their story? 

They were isolated. They were invisible. They were powerless. 

There were hundreds of thousands of them, but together they were nothing. 




BLOG TOUR TOUR SCHEDULE 

May 4th - The Fandom
May 5th - Big Shiny Robot
May 6th - BookHoundsYA
May 7th - Mundie Moms


★ "Hasak-Lowy's writing gives life to both the people and issues involved, taking time to explain historical backgrounds and the ways the lessons from one movement affected future ones.” 
Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

★ "Highly recommended for its outstanding treatment of the history of social justice. A good resource for student activists.” 
School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

★ "There has never been a time when a book is more relevant than this one.” 
School Library Connection, STARRED REVIEW


ABOUT THE BOOK

 
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A stirring look at nonviolent activism, from American suffragists to Civil Rights to the Climate Change Movement

We Are Power brings to light the incredible individuals who have used nonviolent activism to change the world. The book explores questions such as what is nonviolent resistance and how does it work? In an age when armies are stronger than ever before, when guns seem to be everywhere, how can people confront their adversaries without resorting to violence themselves? Through key international movements as well as people such as Gandhi, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Václav Havel, this book discusses the components of nonviolent resistance. It answers the question “Why nonviolence?” by showing how nonviolent movements have succeeded again and again in a variety of ways, in all sorts of places, and always in the face of overwhelming odds. The book includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Todd Hasak-Lowy is the author of several books for young readers. He is a professor of creative writing and literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Hasak-Lowy lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife and two daughters. Visit toddhasaklowy.com.






GIVEAWAY

  • 1 winner will receive a finished copy of We Are Power. Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win.
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11:59pm ET on 5/16
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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