Re: Include Latinos in economy rebuilding, from the May 15 Hollister Free Lance.
Latino inclusion begins with growing and harvesting our food going back at least to my childhood in World War Two. At that time, our mother brought us children to pick string beans in a San Jose field near the soon-to-be Hawaiian Gardens.
Our men were drafted into the military, our women were building ships, leaving mothers and children like us to harvest crops with Latino men. I remember clearly seeing these sombrero-wearing men eating cactus. Much later, I learned to savor the wonderful fruity, juicy, tropical aroma and sweetness of the prickly pear. Whenever I enjoy the delicious refreshing cactus fruit I remember how these men worked to feed the country and themselves.
Since Latinos harvest and grow our food supply, to their credit they practice loyalty, devotion, respect, hard work, honesty, toil and determination. To our discredit, we pay them subsistence wages. Thus they live in inadequate housing and eat an inadequate diet with minimal access to comprehensive healthcare.
If growers cannot increase wages, the government must provide housing, nutritional, healthful and educational support. Increase food stamps, not decrease them. Support public schools, not charter schools. Provide free access to health clinics. Support housing subsidies similar to Assemblyman Robert Rivas’s bill. Provide small business grants to entrepreneurs like Maria Hernandez of La Sabrosa.
Much research data demonstrates that when resources are allocated to underserved communities, violence decreases while health, happiness and survival rates of residents increase! When a pandemic like the coronavirus hits, exposing underserved populations who are enduring the most deaths, we must wake up. We must practice inclusion. Inclusion promotes a higher, safer standard of living for us all.