LA MISMA LUCHA
Derechos de las y los Inmigrantes y la Justicia Educativa
- José Calderón -
Mesa redonda Latino/a y Pitzer College y de los valles de San Gabriel y Pomona,
José Calderón describe cómo ha establecido una conexión entre las luchas por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa en su trabajo como activista académico en la ciudad de Pomona, en el Condado de Los Ángeles. José comienza relatando su propia historia llegando como inmigrante a este país y el papel que la educación pública tuvo en abrir nuevas oportunidades en su vida. A continuación, analiza una serie de campañas paralelas: poner fin a los retenes policiales, la lucha por el derecho al voto, la creación de alternativas a la violencia de las pandillas, y la promoción de escuelas comunitarias. Discute también los profundos procesos de construcción de relaciones que tuvieron lugar a través de estas campañas, creando coaliciones multirraciales con una visión unida que combina los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa.
MI PASIÓN POR CONSTRUIR PUENTES entre las luchas de nuestras comunidades inmigrantes y la justicia educativa se encuentra en mi propia historia como inmigrante. Llegué a los Estados Unidos a los siete años junto a mi padre y mi madre, quienes trabajaron toda su vida en los campos como trabajadores agrícolas. Vivíamos en el barrio, en un cuarto ubicado en el segundo piso de una gasolinera, con una estufa a leña y sin plomería interior. Comencé la escuela con otros siete estudiantes de México que, como yo, no sabían hablar inglés. En conjunto, enfrentamos el doble problema de ser pobres y no saber hablar inglés. Gracias a una maestra que se quedaba conmigo después de la escuela, logré aprender el inglés y graduarme de la escuela secundaria, la universidad y, finalmente, un programa de doctorado. Otros estudiantes de origen mexicano en mi clase no tuvieron la misma fortuna, ya que gradualmente abandonaron la escuela.
Cuando me gradué de la Universidad de Colorado en 1971, tomé un autobús a Delano, California, para poder conocer a César Chávez y unirme al movimiento de trabajadores agrícolas. Cuando llegué, durante una huelga de trabajadores de la uva, escuché las palabras que cambiaron el resto de mi vida. En un mitin nocturno en Forty Acres, la sede central del Sindicato de Trabajadores Agrícolas Unidos, César desafió a las y los jóvenes estudiantes ahí presentes: nos dijo que solo hay una cosa asegurada, y eso es la muerte. Entre este momento y el de la muerte, la pregunta es cómo usaremos nuestras vidas. Podemos desperdiciarlas fácilmente con las drogas, el egoísmo y las cosas materiales, pensando que esto nos traerá felicidad; pero nos aseguró que, si comprometemos nuestras vidas al servicio de los demás para empoderar a otros, cuando envejezcamos y miremos hacia atrás podremos ser capaces de decir que nuestras vidas han sido realmente significativas.
Transformado por esta experiencia, regresé a mi ciudad, Ault, Colorado, e inicié una escuela con dieciocho jóvenes estudiantes de inglés en una vieja cochera en el patio de mis padres. Cuando la junta escolar local les dijo a nuestras estudiantes que se “regresaran a México” si queríamos una educación bilingüe en las escuelas, treinta estudiantes y yo organizamos una marcha de cuatro días y setenta millas hacia el Capitolio estatal. Cientos de simpatizantes nos encontraron en el camino y nos animaron. Cuando mis estudiantes regresaron, tomaron la iniciativa de organizar escuelas en todo el condado, lo que dio como resultado algunos de los mejores programas bilingües en el estado.
Debido a que la mayoría de quienes estudiaban el idioma inglés provenía de familias inmigrantes, los problemas de justicia educativa en las escuelas se entrelazaron con la lucha por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes en nuestras comunidades. Por lo tanto, algunos de los mismos padres y madres que se organizaron para la educación bilingüe en las escuelas también se organizaron para proteger a residentes sin documentos. Finalmente, obtuvieron el compromiso del Sheriff Richard Martínez y del Departamento del Sheriff del Condado de Weld de que no detendrían a inmigrantes sin documentos. Estas experiencias me llevaron a realizar un compromiso de catorce años para organizar en el norte de Colorado, tanto por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes como por la justicia educativa.
Salí de Colorado para obtener un doctorado en sociología en UCLA, pero fue a través de estas experiencias de organización comunitaria como realmente entendí las conexiones entre las inequidades en nuestras comunidades y los problemas que estudiantes con poca representación enfrentan en las aulas. Mis luchas con el aprendizaje del inglés y el crecer en una familia pobre de trabajadores agrícolas inmigrantes sentó las bases de las conexiones que finalmente llegué a hacer, tanto como estudiante graduado y como profesor, entre los problemas con los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la educación, lo que me llevó a convertirme en un activista académico. Como activista, he sido parte de los esfuerzos para crear coaliciones entre padres y madres, docentes, estudiantes y organizaciones comunitarias para organizarse en torno a los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa. Como académico, realicé una investigación basada en la comunidad para apoyar estos esfuerzos de organización. Como activista académico, combino la investigación y la organización para crear cambios dentro de las escuelas y en los vecindarios donde residen padres, madres y estudiantes.
Luchando contra el movimiento English-Only en Monterey Park
Un ejemplo sobre cómo conectar los movimientos por los derechos de las inmigrantes y la justicia educativa ocurrió en la ciudad de Monterey Park, donde residía con mi familia mientras completaba mi doctorado en sociología. Monterey Park, ubicado al este de Los Ángeles, es una ciudad con más de sesenta y dos mil residentes. Ha pasado de ser un 85 por ciento blanca en 1960 a ser una ciudad mayoritariamente minoritaria en la actualidad. Según el Censo de los Estados Unidos en 2015, aproximadamente el 65 por ciento de la población era del Asia Pacífico, el 30 por ciento era latina y solo el 4 por ciento era blanca.1 Muchos miembros de la comunidad del Asia Pacífico y casi toda la comunidad latina son inmigrantes.
Trabajé con otros organizadores y organizadoras en Monterey Park para generar confianza entre miembros de la comunidad y las y los investigadores, y crear así la base para un cambio social. Muy frecuentemente, las y los investigadores de la academia han ido a la comunidad simplemente para recolectar datos y luego irse cuando la investigación finaliza. La creación de confianza lleva más tiempo, ya que se requiere que los miembros de la comunidad vean que las y los investigadores contribuyen a los esfuerzos comunitarios, y luego adopten la investigación como una herramienta para lograr sus objetivos. En mi caso, combiné los roles de investigador y organizador y construí confianza al hacer un compromiso a largo plazo con la comunidad de Monterey Park.
En 1986, el consejo municipal de Monterey Park –compuesto en su totalidad de personas de raza blanca– aprobó una resolución que requería que sólo se utilizase el inglés en la literatura oficial de la ciudad y en los letreros públicos. Formé parte de la Coalición para la Armonía en Monterey Park (con siglas en inglés CHAMP), un grupo multiétnico de residentes que reunió a padres y madres inmigrantes de las comunidades latina y del Asia Pacífico para derrotar la ordenanza y, eventualmente, reemplazar vía votación a sus principales proponentes. Más tarde, en respuesta a políticos de derecha y personas que culpaban a la comunidad china por la congestión de las calles y por la construcción excesiva en Monterey Park, nuestra coalición eligió candidatos y candidatas que propusieron un desarrollo planificado, sin abordar el tema del crecimiento urbano en términos antinmigrantes.
Esta coalición creó un nivel de confianza que también ayudó a resolver conflictos en las escuelas de la ciudad. Cuando surgieron tensiones raciales entre estudiantes latinos/as y del Asia Pacífico en el distrito escolar de Alhambra, los padres y madres inmigrantes trabajaron juntos para crear un Grupo de Trabajo Multiétnico en todo el distrito, compuesto por padres y madres, estudiantes, miembros de la PTA, el sindicato de docentes, el personal de servicio y el personal administrativo. Para contrarrestar las afirmaciones de algunos funcionarios escolares que negaban la existencia de tensiones raciales en las escuelas —culpando el “machismo” o las “hormonas” naturales de las y los adolescentes por las tensiones—, colaboré con el grupo de trabajo para llevar a cabo una encuesta a mil quinientos estudiantes, incluyendo trescientos estudiantes con un inglés limitado. Encontramos que el 86 por ciento del cuerpo estudiantil percibía las tensiones raciales como un problema muy serio en las escuelas. Utilizamos la investigación para hacer que la junta escolar adoptase una política que lidiase con el comportamiento motivado por el odio, para institucionalizar las clases sobre resolución de conflictos y para crear la opción de la mediación como una alternativa a las expulsiones de estudiantes.
Sabíamos que los conflictos en las escuelas y la comunidad estaban vinculados. Al existir una gran afluencia de inmigrantes del Asia Pacífico, principalmente de nacionalidad china que se asentó en Monterey Park, la unión con los padres y madres y estudiantes latinos/as se produjo al encontrar un terreno común radicado en sus historias comunes como inmigrantes. Al proponer una estrategia de formación de coaliciones, los dos grupos pudieron utilizar colectivamente las investigaciones como una herramienta para promover un currículo multicultural y programas de resolución de conflictos que beneficiaron a ambos grupos.
La experiencia en Monterey Park me ayudó a resolver el dilema de cómo conectar mi posición en el mundo académico con la investigación participativa, la enseñanza y el aprendizaje basado en la comunidad. En lugar de perpetuar la idea tradicional de que las y los investigadores no deberían participar en las organizaciones que estudian, esta experiencia de investigación y acción participativa permitió mi participación, tanto en mi rol de organizador como de investigador en la comunidad. Cuando acepté un puesto de profesor en el Pitzer College y me mudé al Valle de Pomona, en el Condado de Los Ángeles, tomé las lecciones aprendidas en Monterey Park y comencé a organizar gente en la ciudad de Pomona. Aquí nuevamente combiné la investigación y la organización para ayudar a los padres, madres y estudiantes a establecer conexiones entre los movimientos de los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y de la justicia educativa.
Terminando con los Retenes Policiales en Pomona
Mis estudiantes y yo nos unimos a padres, madres y líderes comunitarios para organizar una coalición de base amplia para construir un movimiento local de justicia social que expusiera el uso injusto de los puestos de revisión policiales para atacar a las y los inmigrantes. Durante los últimos veinticinco años, la ciudad de Pomona ha experimentado los cambios demográficos que se están produciendo en todo el Sur de California. Según el Censo de los EE. UU., ahora es una ciudad de mayoría minoritaria que en 2015 estaba compuesta por aproximadamente 71 por ciento latinos, un 6 por ciento afroamericanos, un 9 por ciento de asiáticos del Pacífico y un 11 por ciento blancos no-hispanos.2 Cuando la policía de la ciudad de Pomona comenzó a ubicar los retenes de revisión frente a escuelas, negocios y vecindarios que servían principalmente a familias latinas y trabajadores inmigrantes, padres y madres inmigrantes junto a simpatizantes formaron una coalición llamada Pomona Habla (Pomona Speaks). A través de esta coalición, lanzamos un proyecto de investigación que impulsó acciones organizadas contra los puntos de control de tráfico en la ciudad de Pomona. Nuestra investigación descubrió datos que mostraron que menos del .001 por ciento de quienes conducían y fueron detenidos en los puntos de control lo hacían bajo la influencia del alcohol.3 Las estadísticas también mostraron que la mayoría de los detenidos eran inmigrantes sin documentos que no tenían licencia de conducir y no podían pagar las excesivas tarifas de la multa, el remolque y la cuota del corralón.
La coalición Pomona Habla lanzó una serie de protestas y acciones en las que residentes y estudiantes de la comunidad sostuvieron carteles que alertaban a las y los conductores sobre los puestos de control en las calles cercanas. Las tensiones en la ciudad alcanzaron su punto máximo cuando la policía llevó a cabo un punto de control vehicular de cuatro vías (que cubría cuatro esquinas de las calles) que incluía a oficiales de policía de cuarenta ciudades, lo que provocó la detención de 4,027 vehículos, la confiscación de 152 de ellos y la emisión de 172 multas.4 En respuesta, Pomona Habla lideró una protesta de más de mil personas y estableció a estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad en cada punto de control policial. La investigación y las acciones dieron como resultado que el consejo de la ciudad acordara detener los puntos de control de cuatro vías, permitir los puntos de control sólo en áreas residenciales y desarrollar un comité ad hoc para revisar las quejas y recomendaciones de la ciudadanía.
La investigación y organización basadas en la comunidad de esta coalición se convirtieron en un modelo para la aprobación de ordenanzas en San Francisco, Los Ángeles y Baldwin Park, las que permiten ahora que un conductor sin licencia transfiera a otro conductor con licencia la custodia del vehículo en lugar de que éste sea confiscado. Estos esfuerzos en todo el estado llevaron a la propuesta de un proyecto de ley por parte del asambleísta de California Gil Cedillo, la que fue aprobada formalmente por el gobernador Jerry Brown en 2011, restringiendo la capacidad de la policía local para confiscar autos en puntos de control de tráfico simplemente porque quien conduce no posee licencia. En última instancia, esto llevó a la aprobación de un proyecto de ley que permite a inmigrantes sin documentos obtener licencias de conducir. Pomona Habla, que incluía organizaciones comunitarias y estudiantes de escuelas y universidades locales (incluyendo estudiantes de mis clases en Pitzer College), reunió más de diez mil firmas en la región para apoyar este proyecto de ley.
ORGANIZACIÓN E INVESTIGACIÓN SOBRE EL DERECHO AL VOTO
Como reacción a estas victorias, la Asociación de la Policía de Pomona, junto con otras fuerzas conservadoras de la ciudad, se enfocaron en una de las líderes de esta coalición, la concejala de la ciudad Cristina Carrizosa. Intentaron expulsarla de su cargo al proponer un proyecto de ley, la Medida T, en la boleta electoral de noviembre del 2012 para reemplazar la elección de los miembros del consejo de la ciudad por distrito con elecciones generales. La medida buscaba contradecir la voluntad de la gente de Pomona que, luego de las demandas del Fondo Mexicano-Americano de Defensa Legal y Educación y el Proyecto de Registro de Votantes del Suroeste, votaron en 1990 la eliminación de las elecciones a lo largo de la ciudad a favor de distritos de un solo miembro para reforzar la representación de minorías. Trabajando con la coalición, mis estudiantes y yo llevamos a cabo una investigación que reveló un historial de derechos del voto de cómo se crearon las elecciones del distrito y quién estaba detrás de la Medida T. Nuestra investigación reveló cómo la asociación de policías había dado más de cincuenta mil dólares para respaldar este proyecto de ley, descubriendo también su patrocinio a la elaboración de un volante que representa una mano blanca extendida hacia arriba sobre las manos cafés que se extienden desde abajo.5 Una coalición multirracial de miembros y organizaciones de la comunidad llamó a una conferencia de prensa, difundió tocando de puerta en puerta y, en el Día de Elecciones, derrotó a la Medida T y además ayudó a elegir dos concejales adicionales que apoyaban los derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
LA CREACIÓN DE LA COALICIÓN SOBRE VIOLENCIA CALLEJERA
Después de la derrota de la Medida T, el problema de las pandillas y la violencia callejera surgió en la ciudad. En respuesta a la creciente tasa de homicidios, la policía llevó a cabo una redada de presuntos pandilleros que resultó en el arresto de 165 personas. Nuestra coalición creía que las estrategias más exitosas para lidiar con la creciente violencia entre jóvenes tenían que centrarse en la prevención en lugar de la penalización y la acción policiaca. Mis estudiantes y yo, junto con miembros de una coalición progresista liderada por la Mesa Redonda Latino/a y el Local 1428 del United Food and Commercial Workers, investigamos una serie de reuniones comunitarias. Argumentamos que la violencia de las pandillas no existiría si las pandillas no tomaran el lugar de otros satisfactores de las desesperadas necesidades de los jóvenes por una familia, educación, tutoría, vivienda, empleo, atención médica y apoyo espiritual y social. A medida que ampliamos la coalición para incluir a padres, madres, estudiantes, maestros y organizaciones comunitarias, defendimos una estrategia para contrarrestar a las pandillas con un plan de justicia económica y estrategias de creación de capacidad para empleos de calidad, vivienda, salud, educación y educación preescolar / programas extraescolares, particularmente en sectores de bajos ingresos de la comunidad.
En este proceso, estudiamos modelos exitosos de prevención de pandillas, incluyendo uno desarrollado por el Padre Gregory Boyle en Los Ángeles. Este modelo aborda las necesidades de los jóvenes para desarrollar una escuela primaria alternativa, programas de guardería e instancias después de la escuela, organización comunitaria y un extenso proyecto de desarrollo económico de Homeboy Industries, que incluye Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen y Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise. Convocamos a una conferencia comunitaria basada en este modelo para promover la idea de abordar los problemas estructurales que afectan a las y los jóvenes y a sus familias en Pomona.
PROMOVIENDO ESCUELAS COMUNITARIAS Y UN MOVIMIENTO MÁS AMPLIO
Esta nueva dirección para abordar los problemas de la juventud llevó al desarrollo de una asociación entre la organización comunitaria Mesa Redonda Latino/a, de la cual soy presidente, el Capítulo del Valle de Pomona del NAACP y el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Pomona. Como parte de esta asociación, un comité de desarrollo comunitario ha realizado reuniones mensuales para implementar varios proyectos de construcción de comunidad y transformación educativa. Esta coalición ha incluido a padres y madres de familia líderes de las iniciativas comunitarias sobre los puntos policiacos de control y las pandillas. La coalición también impulsó las propuestas identificadas inicialmente en las reuniones de la conferencia para alejarse de la simple aplicación de la ley e ir hacia estrategias centradas en el desarrollo de la juventud y la comunidad.
La coalición ha comenzado a implementar el concepto de las escuelas comunitarias, donde las escuelas proporcionan educación y servicios sociales y de salud a jóvenes, padres y madres de familia y miembros de la comunidad. Después de que la Mesa Redonda Latino/a y la NAACP se pronunciaron a favor de una resolución para implementar el concepto de escuelas comunitarias, la Junta Escolar Unificada de Pomona votó su apoyo por unanimidad. La Junta Escolar impulsó planes estratégicos avanzados que incluyen (1) currículos culturalmente relevantes y atractivos; (2) un énfasis en enseñanza de alta calidad, no en las pruebas de altas expectativas; (3) sistemas de apoyo que incluyen servicios sociales/emocionales y atención médica; (4) prácticas de disciplina positiva, como la justicia restaurativa; (5) participación de los padres y madres de familia y la comunidad; y (6) liderazgo escolar inclusivo y comprometido a hacer que la estrategia escolar de transformación comunitaria integral se parte del mandato y funcionamiento de la escuela.
Siguiendo el principio de César Chávez de usar la vida de uno para servir a los demás, ayudé a que el distrito escolar se uniera a una coalición que organiza una marcha y festival anual de peregrinación por César Chávez que se centra en temas de justicia social. Estos temas, que incluyen la solidaridad con Black Lives Matter, los estudiantes mexicanos desaparecidos en 2014 y el apoyo a los estudios de minorías étnicas y el Santuario para Todos y Todas, ofrecen ejemplos del entendimiento amplio que hemos desarrollado a partir de las conexiones entre temas de justicia educativa y derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
Con este entendimiento interseccional, la asociación ha implementado talleres para cientos de estudiantes, padres y madres sobre cómo calificar para el programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA), cómo obtener una tarjeta de Matrícula Consular (un documento de identificación oficial emitido por el gobierno mexicano) y cómo obtener una licencia de conducir de California. Más recientemente, como parte de una coalición estatal de College for All, esta asociación se ha expandido para respaldar e implementar activamente el Proyecto de Ley 1050 del Senado de California (cuyo paso fue dirigido por uno de mis antiguos alumnos, el presidente del Senado pro tempore Kevin de León) para crear un conducto de oportunidades educativas y el éxito desde la guardería infantil hasta la universidad para estudiantes de bajos ingresos, aprendices del idioma inglés e hijos e hijas adoptivas. La asociación en estos temas ha llevado a una serie de desarrollos extraordinarios, que incluyen talleres educativos para cientos de padres y madres de familia, muchas de los cuales luego cabildean con nosotros en el capitolio del estado sobre proyectos ley para proporcionar escuelas seguras para niñas y niños inmigrantes y para prohibir el uso de fondos públicos que permitan acciones de deportación por parte de agentes federales, así como otras leyes para proteger a estudiantes vulnerables y promover la equidad educativa.
CONCLUSION: JUSTICIA EDUCATIVA EN EL CORAZÓN DE LOS DERECHOS DE LOS INMIGRANTES
La experiencia y trayectoria de mi propia vida muestra cómo la búsqueda de la educación es fundamental para la lucha de las inmigrantes. Soy un organizador, un educador y un miembro de la comunidad. Uso la investigación y la organización de base comunitaria para construir puentes entre las comunidades de inmigrantes y entre los movimientos por los derechos de las y los inmigrantes y la justicia educativa. Este tipo de compromiso e investigación muestra la conexión íntima entre ambos, enfatiza los aspectos sistémicos y estructurales de la desigualdad e involucra a investigadores e investigadoras activistas para que trabajen junto a comunidades excluidas en proyectos comunes para abordar las causas fundamentales del racismo, la exclusión, la práctica de culpar a los más vulnerables y la desigualdad en nuestro sistema educativo y en nuestras comunidades.
Las y los activistas de la academia construyen una base de confianza con las comunidades al comprometerse a trabajar a largo plazo en una asociación genuina para encontrar e implementar soluciones a los problemas que enfrentan las comunidades. Este tipo de acción e investigación se aleja de la caridad o el servicio y se alinea con la creación de nuevos modelos de participación democrática y de creación de coaliciones para el cambio social. Este modelo interseccional distingue los fundamentos estructurales de las desigualdades experimentadas por las comunidades de inmigrantes en las aulas y en la comunidad, creando estrategias que conectan las luchas por la justicia educativa y los derechos de las y los inmigrantes.
Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies
The Same Struggle: Immigrant Rights and Educational Justice
In his essay, José Calderón describes how he has made the connection between the struggles for immigrant rights and educational justice in his work as a scholar activist in the city of Pomona in Los Angeles County. José begins by telling his own story of arriving as an immigrant to this country and the role of public education in opening opportunities in his life. He discusses a number of overlapping campaigns: ending police checkpoints, fighting for voting rights, creating alternatives to gang violence, and promoting community schools. He discusses the deep relationship building processes that occurred through these campaigns that created multiracial coalitions with a united vision combining immigrant rights and educational justice.
Presentation at Keeping Families Together Rally
Posted July 4, 2018
I came here as an immigrant child with my parents and appreciated that I had parents who were there for me – as we crossed into this country.
My parents brought me to this country – looking for a better life – and they worked all their lives as farmworkers — died in a barrio as farmworkers — — looking for a better life like many of the families who are coming here from Mexico – from Central America — Families who have been uprooted as a result of poverty, violence, wars – with some of the roots lying in a history of colonization and the role that international corporations have played in making profits from the labor of the workers – from the resources in those countries – and, at the same time, forcing some families to leave – and to work in this country – producing billions in profits and taxes and remittances — while at the same time being scapegoated – blamed for the state of the economy – when workers here do not see any improvement in their quality of life – and are lied to – manipulated – into believing that it is these immigrants – it is these families – it is these children – that are the cause for the economic conditions – where we know the truth – where corporations are making record profits while the wages of workers remain the same for decades.
This is the foundation of why I am here today – why we are here today – for, it is under these conditions that the Trump Administration is breaking up families – and taking children from their mothers – and placing them as nothing more than concentration camps – where even actor George Takai has proclaimed are “worse” than the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II” because, as he succinctly wrote in an op-ed: “At least during the internment, when I was just 5 years old, I was not taken from my parents,”
And let us be clear that that what Trump is proposing now is no backing off of criminalizing all undocumented immigrant families but seeking to quell the international furor over his inhumane policies of separating the children from their families by ensuring that families will continue to be detained- but be incarcerated “together.”
Let us be clear that there is no plan – and that the only plan is to increase the numbers that are being detained and forcing immigrant families to decide whether to leave their children behind or take them with them to face the deadly consequences of why they risked their lives to come here in the first place. Let us be clear that it is an executive order by the President that has created this crisis – and that it is only our organizing efforts and the use of our voting power – that can turn this situation around. To this today – We say — Stop the criminalizing of our families! — Our children and families belong in our communities and not in family concentration camps! – Full legalization for our refugee and undocumented immigrant families! – No Hate No Fear – Immigrants are Welcome Here! No Ban – No Wall – Sanctuary for All!
Presentation to Latino and Latina Roundtable Retreat on “Conditions, Threats, and Opportunities” – February 10, 2018
What is important in looking at conditions – is not to look at it superficially – but to look at the systemic or structural reasons for the conditions – which is primary in our consolidation on why we are doing what we are doing – and how it can be tied to creating what I call sacred spaces of collectivity – with a vision of how we change the structural conditions of our problems.
Internationally – there is the rise of the conservative right in many countries – an anti-immigrant wave. Economies are in turmoil. It is important to look at what is happening internationally and nationally as tied to this system serving the very rich and multinational corporations – for quantity of profit and not quality of life I am sure that you will agree that the character of this system is primarily based on profit. When we talk about the Gross Development Product – it is only measured on the basis of quantity of profit and not quality of life. This has been going on for quite some time. In the past the rich countries such as the U. S. and Great Britain (or what have often been called the first world) have grown rich by extracting profit from the workers in their own countries as well as from countries they have colonized (particularly using the labor power of indigenous populations). Mexico as an example – Puerto Rico as an Example – Haiti as an example – Central America as an example. The profit of major corporations has been derived from labor power – and when this profit decreases – due to many factors including colonies liberating themselves, workers unionizing and winning better wages and benefits – the tendency has been for these major corporations to move abroad (where they get away from paying taxes by creating tax havens – and are able to use the labor power and the resources in those countries – at a cheaper rate than if they had to just use workers in their home country. The other way is to promote migration through keeping third world countries oppressed, poor, and dependent – and accumulate profits in another way – by controlling the resources in those countries – using the labor power there – but also, through their policies, forcing a migration of a sector that crosses borders to survive economically. In this scenario, the corporations, and the political elites who support them, appreciate the labor of this sector – as long as they can use the workers without having to give them any rights. Any giving of rights – can mean a lessening of profits – and they will use every form of enforcement to ensure no rights. The reality is that worldwide – corporations have been pulling in record profits – with the top 1% benefiting – while the conditions of working people have stagnated. We have only to look at the situation in the U. S. where – over the past four decades the U. S. economy has doubled in size but the bottom half of the U. S. households have seen no income gains. ”In 1970, the bottom half of wage earners made an average of $16,000 a year. By 2014, this group’s earnings had risen to only $16,200. Over 85 percent of income gains have gone to the top 1 percent with CEO’s of major firms earning over 300 times more than typical workers. The Forbes 400 – billionaires have a combined net worth of $2.3 trillion – with more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the U. S. population combined.
The result of this is that workers have had to work longer hours, take-on more debt, and forced more numbers in the family to work. Almost half of U. S. workers earn under $15 an hour – and one in three – less than $12 an hour.
— One of every seven persons in this country – live below the poverty line.
— Since the great recession of 2008, over 85% of income gains have gone to the top 1% of households – and CEO’s of major firms earn over 300 times more than average works in their companies.*
— The growing inequalities of income bring to the fore the inequalities of income and wealth – particularly historic inequalities when comparing Black, Latino, and white households. According to the PEW Research Center – the median wealth of white households in 2013 was `13 times that of Black households. White households had ten times more wealth than Latino households.
— It is this wealth and power that we must look at – when we ask the question about “ what is democracy in the age of trump– Most workers, today, are getting by only on poverty wages – with nearly half of the workforce stuck in jobs that pay less than $15 an hour – earning less than $25,000 a year.*
— We have only to question this structure when elections are run by money – and donors who use tax-exempt funds to influence politics. Look at the networks of the Koch brothers who organized a network of donors (including coal, gas, and oil industries) to prevent environmental regulation and ensure the control of health care by the for-profit drug and medical monopolies. This has included big monies to elect those candidates that represent their interests.
It is under these conditions that a form of power has emerged — where power is at the top – decisions are made – and we feel powerless to do anything about it. This is a form of power that focuses on specific issues that raise emotions and have no context other than to benefit those in power, the wealthy – confuse working people – and divide our movements. This form of power — being promoted as democracy – is now presented in the realm of an authoritarian top-down government and state – where we have a never-ending war, more power being given to corporations, manipulation of the media, an increase in repression, and policies of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. – to foment division. Since the mid-1970’s, there has been a major power shift. Today, fewer than 12% of workers are in unions – while the power of multinational corporations – the power of financial capital — has grown.*
— With this power – laws governing taxes, global trade, wages, and government spending priorities – have shifted to the power of capital and not of wage workers.
Under these conditions, there are blatant Policies that are aimed at blaming the problems in the economy on immigrants, women, and working people – to blame the problems on them – and advance an ideology that the problems will be solved if their power is diminished, if they are incarcerated, kept from voting, and deported. This authoritarianism lives off of the politics of resentment, alienation, frustration, anger and fear. It is here especially – where the economic problems of working people – who are angry at their conditions – are used, much like they were used in Germany against Jewish people – to scapegoat and to dehumanize. It involves power – controlling the power of the state and to violate all principles in ensuring that power.
An emphasis on the quantity of profit over quality of life has led to what I call a form of genocide to make sure that our potential power is scattered and decapitated – through deregulating and allowing corporations to spew chemicals in the air that result in more of us dying (particularly in people of color and low-income communities); through the cutting of our cutting health care; through incarcerating us (we have more African Americans in jail now – than we had in slavery) and keeping us from voting through gutting the voting rights act and unjust gerrymandering – and of course through increased enforcement, deportation, and limits on asylum of our immigrant young people, families, and refugees. This authoritarianism is waging a war against our communities – and particularly those who have been in the forefront of any gains made in civil, human, and environmental rights in the last decades. This authoritarianism is using deficits in the economy to cut Medicare, Medicaid, – to threaten social security – and ensures that the power over the future of our health stays in the hands of the profit-making health and drug industry.
Under these conditions — we have the Alt-Right, the Bannons, the Rockford Institute, the neo-conservative movements in this country who promote white supremacist,racial-nationalist and neo-fascist ideologies — who push a deregulated free enterprise system, more funding for the military, the building of a wall, and mass deportations. This is an authoritarianism that has allowed for the privatization of our economy and institutions to run rampant – that has resulted in more of our people in debt – and remaining on the margins – with the result of creating a foundation of anger among working people – allowing for a politics of scapegoating.
It is a form that, rather than advancing spaces and places of a more just and equal world – is seeking to destroy our educational institutions, our unions – our research and science – to foment a politics of individualism and ignorance about global warming and the economy.
This authoritarianism promotes an unregulated economic system where corporations rule – where the needs of our communities are put aside for the priorities of profit-making interests – and advances a form of neoliberalism that places emphasis on privatization and consumerism – with the outcome of destroying any ideology that truly builds a collective community or engages in practices for the collective good.
There are opportunities in a growing movement nationally that understands the foundations of our conditions and sees the creation of sacred collective spaces as not being abstract – but is concretely uniting around a program that builds power from below to change power at the top – a program that proposes abolishing a structure that allows the wealthy, the corporations, and businesses to manipulate the tax system in their favor; that reverses banking concentration and supports a system of decentralized community accountable banks and credit unions – that combats unjust gerrymandering, abolishes the electoral college, moves toward a form of proportional representation and builds a social movement in support of a living wage; health care with universal coverage; accessibility for everyone to a quality education; a guaranteed basic income; investment in pre-school, k-12, and higher education; public financing of elections; legalization for our 12 million immigrant brothers and sisters, and trade agreements that turn around the profits going to the richer countries and that ensure environmental and labor standards.
On a local level – in California — it is no accident why our political representatives have taken positions of “no ban and no wall” – supporting California as a sanctuary state – and vowing to protect the rights of our immigrant and targeted communities regardless of what oppressive policies Trump tries to force the states and cities to carry out. It has been our grass-roots work and the building of coalitions.
It was not that long ago that many labor unions were anti-immigrant – now, in this last session – it was unions that helped to pass Assembly Bill 450, requiring an employer to require proper court documents before allowing immigration agents access to the workplace or to employee information.
On a state level, it is no coincidence that California is now an exemplary state in its support of undocumented immigrants.
Look at this — and I can only mention a few of the pro –immigrant legislative policies that have been passed: in-state tuition. driver’s licenses, new rules designed to limit deportations, state-funded healthcare for children, a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code; $40 million in the most recent state budget to provide Medi-Cal coverage to children younger than 19 regardless of legal status – the appointment of a number of noncitizens in the country to state agencies and departments, the passage of SB-54 (called the Sanctuary bill) that prohibits California officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and limits cooperation between California police officers and federal immigration agents about people detained by police or in jail awaiting trial; — and there are other bills, in this last session that include measures to protect undocumented immigrants from housing discrimination, workplace raids and block the expansion of immigration detention centers.
On the local level, we have our coalitions that have been exemplary in the development of a partnership between the community-based Latino and Latina Roundtable organization, the Pomona Valley Chapter of the NAACP, and the Pomona Unified School District. In creating connections between the educational and immigrant rights needs of families, the partnership has implemented workshops for hundreds of students and parents in how to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, how to obtain a Matricula Consular card (an official identification document issued by the Mexican government), and (with a coalition with the Pomona Day Labor Center) workshops on how to obtain a California driver’s license. The partnership on k-12 and college pipeline issues has led to: including family summits and some parents who have gone with us to Sacramento to educate our representatives on bills to provide safe schools for immigrant children and to ban the use of public funds to aid federal agents in deportation actions, as well as other legislation to protect vulnerable students and advance educational equity.
It is the character of the work of these multi-racial grass-roots coalitions in both organizing and turning out the vote on a state, local, and national level that have been the foundation for bringing to the forefront a national dialogue that is now highlighting the contributions of undocumented immigrants – and how much their labor is needed by the service, business, and agricultural establishments.
With these conditions, it is more important than ever to advance the development of cross-border alliances with movements in Mexico, Central America, Latin America, Haiti, and globally — as part of our understanding that immigration patterns will not significantly change because of domestic immigration policies alone.
As part of these alliances, We have to fight to ensure the continuance of this TPS program – defend the rights of these Central American families (some who have been here for over twenty years – with children who have grown up in this country and know no other country except this one).
It was refreshing – after Trump’s announcement on DACA to see how our coalitions responded right here in Pomona with a press conference — in Los Angeles, D. C., New York, Phoenix – with students walking out in Denver – and colleges supporting all over the nation – with the majority – people from all backgrounds – workers, educators, political and business leaders standing up in support. Again, we have to be careful of those politicians and organizations who are willing to use DACA as a “bargaining chip” – and conciliate a tradeoff for supporting Trump’s recent enforcement policy proposals that include funding more funds for border enforcement, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, expansion of the e-verify program, a decrease in the number of refugees allowed to enter, and immediate removal of minors crossing into the U. S. from Central American seeking asylum.
Overall, we need to continue to build multi-racial coalitions that collectively carry out naturalization drives, voter registration, voter turn-out – and education forums that can ensure the election of local, state, and federal representatives who truly represent the interests and issues of our communities – who will fight alongside our communities against immigration and refugee policies that only focus on enforcement – and will fight for policies that will immediately lead to permanent residency and citizenship – with no expansion of temporary guest worker (bracero) programs and with labor law protections.
Finally, on the local level, in addition to our continued work for immigrant and education rights, there is a need for a type of “community schools” or education – that can utilize classes, forums, workshops, and clinics to train a leadership – provide tools to new leaders in deepening their understanding – so that we can build policy campaigns – and advance alternative solutions – to address the structural foundations of a direction which is strategically using the media, educational system, the new technologies, and the global means of communication to confuse our communities – to divide us and to keep us from using our potential political, social, and economic power. What would further strengthen our efforts, in my view, is to build a new sector to our work that is a Leadership School that unites us – and allows for the fullest use of our resources in building the type of equal and just society that we all deserve to live in.
*Note: Statistics primarily from “Reversing Inequality: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of An Equitable Economy”by Chuck Collins, The Democracy Colaborative and Next System Project, 2017.
The Age of Trump and the Rise of Authoritarianism
I like the title of this conference, flirting with Fascism, because what is happening in this country right now – has some vestiges of fascism – although this is not a settled question. We still have democratic forms and some democratic rights – that we must use to advance a more just and democratic society. However, what are some of these vestiges?
There is a form of authoritarianism that has emerged where power is at the top – decisions are made – and we feel powerless to do anything about it. This is an authoritarianism that focuses on specific issues that raise emotions and have no context other than to benefit those in power, the wealthy – confuse working people – and divide our movements. This authoritarianism threatens what vestiges are left of democratic institutions and social movements in our society. The term democracy is thrown around and used by the Trump administration and the alt-right to advance policies based on quantity of profit over quality of life. There are many, such a Noam Chomsky – who I agree with – that what is being promoted as democracy – is now presented in the realm of an authoritarian top-down government and state – where we have a never-ending war, more power being given to corporations, manipulation of the media, an increase in repression, and policies of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. – to foment division. These are blatant Policies that are aimed at blaming the problems in the economy on immigrants, women, and working people – to blame the problems on them – and advance an ideology that the problems will be solved if their power is diminished, if they are incarcerated, kept from voting, and deported. This authoritarianism lives off of the politics of resentment, alienation, frustration, anger and fear. It is here especially – where the economic problems of working people – who are angry at their conditions – are used, much like they were used in Germany against Jewish people – to scapegoat and to dehumanize. It involves power – controlling the power of the state and to violate all principles in ensuring that power.
An emphasis on the quantity of profit over quality of life has led to what I call a form of genocide to make sure that our potential power is scattered and decapitated – through deregulating and allowing corporations to spew chemicals in the air that result in more of us dying (particularly in people of color and low-income communities); through the cutting of our health care; through incarcerating us (we have more African Americans in jail now – than we had in slavery) and keeping us from voting through gutting the voting rights act and unjust gerrymandering – and of course through increased enforcement, deportation, and limits on asylum of our immigrant young people, families, and refugees. This authoritarianism is waging a war against our communities – and particularly those who have been in the forefront of any gains made in civil, human, and environmental rights in the last decades. This authoritarianism is using deficits in the economy to cut Medicare, Medicaid, – to threaten social security – and ensures that the power over the future of our health stays in the hands of the profit-making health and drug industry.
We have the Alt-Right, the Bannons, the Rockford Institute, the neo-conservative movements in this country who promote white supremacist,racial-nationalist and neo-fascist ideologies — who push a deregulated free enterprise system, more funding for the military, and stand against anything that promotes a system based on equality. This is an authoritarianism that has allowed for the privatization of our economy and institutions to run rampant – that has resulted in more of our people in debt – and remaining on the margins – with the result of creating a foundation of anger among working people – allowing for a politics of scapegoating.
It is a form that, rather than advancing spaces and places of a more just and equal world – is seeking to destroy our educational institutions, our unions – our research and science – to foment a politics of individualism and ignorance about global warming and the economy.
This authoritarianism promotes an unregulated economic system where corporations rule – where the needs of our communities are put aside for the priorities of profit-making interests – and advances a form of neoliberalism that places emphasis on privatization and consumerism – with the outcome of destroying any ideology that truly builds a collective community or engages in practices for the collective good.
To combat this authoritarianism – we need a program that transforms power at the top – that abolishes a structure that allows the wealthy, the corporations, and businesses to manipulate the tax system in their favor; that reverses banking concentration and supports a system of decentralized community accountable banks and credit unions – that combats unjust gerrymandering, abolishes the electoral college, moves toward a form of proportional representation and builds a social movement in support of a living wage; health care with universal coverage; accessibility for everyone to a quality education; a guaranteed basic income; investment in pre-school, k-12, and higher education; public financing of elections; and trade agreements that ensure environmental and labor standards.
Jose Zapata Calderon
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711-6101
No Ban, No Wall Rally Video
Being Able to Elect Candidates is Not Enough
Pomona now is comprised entirely of Latino and Latina representatives on the council. This is in a city that is 70% Latino, 10% Black, and 7% Asian Pacific Islanders. While, on the one hand, this is historic – on the other, it does not mean the interests of our communities will be fully represented. While it is important to elect Latino/a candidates to positions where they can wield some political power, there is also the necessity of our community-based organizations ensuring that they will represent the issues that our communities are most concerned about – and that these representatives truly represent the needs of quality jobs, health care, education, environment, and community development. In Pomona, although the council is now fully comprised of Latinos and Latinas, there is the example of Ginna Escobar who voted against a resolution opposing immigration raids, supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, calling for imposing a moratorium on immigration raids, and calling for all city employees to not collaborate in enforcing federal civil immigration laws. Another Latina councilmember, Adriana Robledo, abstained on the resolution. Hence, electing Latinos and Latinas to political positions does not mean that they will represent the interests of our communities. It is a step forward to register our people to vote and to get them to vote – but this has to be coupled with collaborative educational efforts which focus on the issues in our communities and what is in their interests. Otherwise, Latinos/as can be elected that represent their own interests or those of power elites, such as greedy developers, whose interests are in the quantity of profit and not in the quality of life. It is important for our communities to continue to be organized after the elections to ensure that the individuals that they elect are held accountable – and use their growing power of the vote to vote them out when they clearly are not representing the interests of our communities.
Nevertheless, the election of a new mayor, Tim Sandoval and new city councilmembers Rubio Ramiro Gonzalez, Elizabeth Ontiveros-Cole, and Robert Torres is historic. There was a time when, although the city had a majority of Latino/a people in the city, there was little representation from this community. Back in 1990, after law suits were filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Southwest Voter Registration Project, Pomona residents voted to scrap citywide elections in favor of single-member districts to bolster minority representation, to facilitate more direct communication between the voters and their representatives, and to reduce the costs of running for city council seats. The voters voted in this way, also to stop the reality that, although Pomona had changed demographically to over 50% in ethnic minorities in the city, only two members of racial or ethnic minorities, up until 1986, had ever been elected to the council in the city’s 99-year history. Now, in recent years, we have seen the results of the voters’ decision in 1990 – as we have seen a diversity of city council candidates and elected city council members – and for the first time an all-Latino/a city council. At the same time – why this has been possible is that candidates have been able to run from a district that they live in and not at-large. The possibilities are stronger now, with strong community-based organizing, to have candidates who are closer to the issues that represent the people that they vow to represent, and that can be held accountable. This is the challenge in the coming years in Pomona.
Jose Zapata Calderon
Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies
1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711-6101
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS EN CENTRO DE LABOR: ACORDANDO JORNALEROS
NOVIEMBRE 2, 2016 –
POR JOSE ZAPATA CALDERON
Me acuerdo de Gerardo, David, Don Luis –
Y todo los obstaculos que confrontaron —
El dolor que tenian en sus ultimos dias –
y verdaderamente –
Yo, como ustededs, no sabia que hacer.
Pero siempre – habia un sentimiento de
Sobrevivir todos obstaculos para hallar
Un espacio de unidad en este centro –
Que para todos de nosotros a venido a
Ser nuestro domicilio – nuestro santuario.
Gerardo, david, Don Luis apresiaban este centro con todo
Sus corazones – y lucharon por este centro
En las oficinas del concilio – En las juntas para asegurar
Que no lo cerraran.
En un tiempo – Gerardo, David, y Don Luis – eran parte de las juntas
De trabajadores – participaban con los estudiantes en los Encuentros
Y eran parte de varios proyectos con los estudiantes.
Me acuerdo que ellos se llenaba con tanta alegria cuando
Participaban con los proyectos de los estudiantes.
Ellos eran quienes somos – personas luchando para mejorar la vida –
Mientras que la ferocidad de la economia nos ataca en modos
Que ultimamente afecta nuestra salud.
Todo lo que tenemos – es uno a otros – y muchas veces
Yo se que este centro es mas que un espacio para buscar
Trabajo – Para Gerardo, David, Don Luis y muchos otros – a sido – amistad,
A sido un abrazo – a sido una fiesta cuando no hubiera navidad
O dia de gracia – a sido – y es lo que quiere decir familia.
Me duele mucho que no pude hacer mas para estos amigos –
Y a veces nos perdemos en tantas otras problemas – que nuestros
Amigos nos pasan – y a veces estamos ciegos –
Pero en lo ultimo – hacemos lo que podemos para sobrevivir –
Y nos acordamos unos a otros.
El acuerdo de Gerardo, David, Don Luis esta aqui en el centro – que continua
A sobrevivir por lo que contribuimos – y por lo que todos ustedes
Han contribuido y continuan a contribuir.
Yo se que Gerardo, david, y Don Luis quisieran que los acordaramos como los estamos
Acrodando hoy – Y yo se que ellos quisieran que los acordaramos en
Continuar la lucha – para que otros no tengan que sufrir –
Y para que el inmigrante que a dado tanto de su sudor para esta nacion
Pueda algun dia recibir la justicia y igualdad que merece.
Nos acordamos de Gerardo, david, y Don Luis hoy – y nos cometemos a continuar
Lo que este es este espacio – un santuario – un abrazo – una amistad
Un Esfuerzo para el futuro – y mas de todo – una familia.
Gerardo, David, y Don Luis y todos Jornaleros que viven en nuestras memorias – hoy y siempre – somos tu Familia.
Pomona Valley Hospital Workers Support Statement
by Jose Calderon
October 19, 2016
I am here today, as President of the Latina and Latino Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, an Emeritus Professor at Pitzer College – and one who has known about Pomona Valley Hospital and the high quality of work by the service and technical workers – because I have been a patient here. I am here – we are all here — to support these workers. We are calling on Pomona Valley Hospital to show the same commitment to patients as the people who directly care for them. What does this mean? It means respecting the workers’ decision to unite in a union.
-As many of you know, I am a strong union and labor supporter and I have always supported the workers at Pomona Valley Hospital. I was here in 2001 in support of the nurses when the same tactics being used today were used against our nurses. We won then – and we will win now! Recently, I was dismayed when Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center workers and community members informed me about the recent union election at the hospital where Over 1,100 service and technical workers won a union election in January to join SEIU-United Healthcare Workers-West (SE-UHW).
-On the one hand, I was so glad to hear about the National Labor Relations Board ruling that a majority of workers – that were eligible to vote at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center – voted for the SEIU-UHW in a fair and democratic election. This was a big victory” On the other, I was dismayed to learn that the CEO decided to file “exceptions” with the NLRB’s Regional Director in order to delay the NLRB from certifying the election results and, consequently, preventing the workers from joining the Union. As many of you know, I come from a long history of supporting the unionization efforts of the United Farm Worker’s Union and I am well aware of how these types of tactics result in long delays with the intention of outlasting the wish of the workers. It is my strong view that Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s full attention and resources should be focused on its patient care and not on legal tactics aimed at delaying the SEIU-UHW from representing workers.
-In these critical times, it seems that Pomona Valley is more interested in increasing executive pay than doing what is best for the staff and patients. The CEO is paid $1.7 Million – which is far more than CEO’s who run larger hospitals. And this – in Pomona where the median household income is $49,000 per year.
-In light of this, – today – we call on the CEO and top management to work with our service and technical workers – and not against them – to treat them with dignity and respect with a contract that treats them fairly and recognizes their contributions to quality care.
-Today, we call on Pomona Valley Hospital to stop using union-busting tactics and sit down and negotiate a contract that helps the patients, our workers, and our community. We know that when management and employees work together – the patients win, our diverse communities win – we all win. Now is the time for Pomona Valley Hospital management to honor the contributions of our workers here in a win-win direction – in respecting their vote — that will continue to sustain the best patient care – and ensure, in the long-term the retention and attraction of the best staff. Brothers, and sisters – what do we want? A union contract? When do we want it? Now.
Theory to Practice in Community Engagement
I have been deeply thinking about the meaning of the connections between theory and practice, teaching and learning as it connects to our continued efforts to connect the academic with pedagogy, research, and community-based organizing for social change (see my book Lessons from an Activist Intellectual). Some recent books which directly connect to this thinking include: On Intellectual Activism by Patricia Hill Collins (which directly applies to my history of connecting the issues of race, class, and gender to Public Sociology); Community Gardening as Social Activism by Claire Nettle (which directly connects to my practice of creating collective quality of life spaces as examples of the kind of local/global world we can help create); Publicly Engaged Scholars by Margaret A. Post, Elaine Ward, Nicholas V. Long, and John Saltmarsh Liberating Service Learning by Randy Stoecker. The theories and practices in these books are something that I would like to build on to help further the thinking, scholarship, and practice of campus/community engagement for social change. Indeed, the commonality of these works is that they are all seeking new and visionary strategies for social change. All have in common a critique of service learning models based on mere service, charity, or dependence. Patricia Hill Collins focuses on two primary strategies. One that “speaks the truth to power” which harnesses the power of ideas toward the specific goal of confronting existing power relations” and a second strategy of speaking “the truth directly to the people” – one that argues “that ordinary everyday people need truthful ideas that will assist them in their everyday lives.” The others have in common – how to move from diagnosing and theory to actual implementation of concrete new models for social change. Both Liberating Service Learning and Publicly Engaged Scholars critique the practices in academia that have a tendency to implement a practice of market driven privatization. In Publicly Engaged Scholars, the authors argue that “higher education became viewed as a private benefit” where “education became part of the commodification of everything and its larger democratic and social goals were either discarded or redefined in market terms.” It included “relentless attachment to privatization and the destruction of an ethical and relational public – undermining the civic commitments of the movement.” Liberating Service Learning agrees with this perspective that institutionalized service learning “feeds into neoliberalism by promoting the belief that, since individuals all have assets, all they have to do is mobilize those assets and they will be successful in life.” Lacking a critique of the social structure, this perspective proposes that these types of practices result in the destruction of collectivities and turns the “consumer and person-turned-into-capital open to the … market persuaders that manufacture reality in the quest for market share.” All these authors have the commonality of which our work in connecting theory to practice should strive for: structural social change and the creation of spaces and places where community-based engagement is democratic, raises consciousness, builds collective leadership alongside our diverse communities, and results in collective quality of life outcomes.
Presentation by Jose Zapata Calderon
NAACP—Sponsored Forum and Candle Light Vigil in Solidarity With Family and Friends in Louisiana and Minnesota
Madedonia Baptist Church in Pomona, CA
July 8th, 2016
We are all here, as we have gathered before, to reflect – and to continue our work to stop the senseless violence in our communities. We cannot, for one moment, put aside the conditions in this country – and those who use these conditions to spread fear, hatred, negative stereotypes, and hostility. These conditions include the state of the ECONOMY, growing demographic changes — conditions that are forcing our diverse communities to compete, rather than collaborate, for the diminishing resources in health, education, employment, and quality of life. With an increasing global society — it is easy to scapegoat the most vulnerable among us and create anger toward our increasingly diverse communities.
We are all here today – remembering the lives of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castil in Minnesota – two African American men whose deaths once again bring to light the issue – that more than 500 people have been killed by police in 2016 – and that racial profiling and excessive use of force are on the upswing.
We are also here to reflect on what happened in Dallas – and that a peaceful demonstration was turned into a stage of violence – with the media tending to blame “the Black Lives Matter” movement – when the violent acts were clearly carried out by individuals who had nothing to do with this movement. As we have said in the past, there is a foundation to the anger and frustration in our communities – but it is important not to take this anger out on one’s self, or on others (particularly those close to us in our communities) – but we need to turn frustration into organizing to change the conditions which are creating our anger.
It is no accident that we have an increase in hate crimes. When presidential candidates, such as Trump use the frustration of working people with the economy – to call for a ban on Muslims’ entry to the U. S. and targets Mexican and Latino people – and influences public attitude with the help of the news media — to call for the deportation of the eleven million undocumented — and force Mexico to fund a wall to keep them out – there is a direction being promoted here that targets specific groups as a threat to national security – and influences public opinion – (with 25% approving of such policies as religious profiling, surveillance, special ID’s, and incarceration).
There is no getting around the issues of poverty and race in our communities – and the problems of crime, violence, substandard housing, unemployment, lack of jobs, and environmental degradation. Mass deportations and mass incarcerations have been expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. We do have to change the stereotypical media portrayal of our Muslim and people of color communities. We do have to change the reality of a renewed form of racial segregation, profiling, and criminalization of our communities. We do have to take concrete steps such as those proposed in a report by the Center for Popular Democracy and Policy Link titled Building From the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing:
- Stop criminalizing everything: de-prioritize enforcing and prosecuting low-level offenses.
- Stop using poor people to fatten city budgets.
- Kick ICE out of your city. The report suggests that cities sever ties between ICE and local police department. ICE should not be able to request these holds. Nor should they have access to the address and names of family members of people detained by local police.
- Treat addicts and mentally ill people like they need help, not jail. Some issue – like acting erratically due to mental illness or possessing and using drugs due to addiction – are actually better served by medical attention, not incarceration.
- Make policy makers face their own racism. The report recommends that policy makers should have to evaluate the potential racial impact of any new laws they create, and involve community organizers and people who work with disadvantaged population in every step of the process.
- Actually ban racist policing. But at the very least, cities, counties and states should provide avenues through which private citizens can take the police to court when they believe they’ve been profiled.
- Obey the Fourth Amendment – prohibiting “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
- Involve the community in big decisions. Every city should have an adequately funded community oversight board with significant investigatory and disciplinary powers.
- Collect data obsessively. The report says that cities and departments should maintain a transparent and searchable database on every stop, frisk, summons, use of force, arrest, and killing they conduct.
- Body cameras. Body cameras are far from the solution. But they can be important and helpful, especially when the local community supports their use, guided by clear regulations.
- Don’t let friends of the police prosecute the police. Cases against police officers would be tried by independent prosecutors, not the district attorney who works with them all the time.
- Oversight, oversight, oversight. The report proposes external oversight committees – ones that oversee the implementation of reforms and proactively identify issues in police operations and practices.
- No more military equipment. President Barack Obama did recently issue and executive order prohibiting police departments from obtaining specific equipment – namely tracked armored vehicles, grenade launcher, large caliber weapons, ammunition, and bayonets.
- Establish a “use of force” standard. The report says that all departments should issue a statement affirming that their officers should use minimum force to subdue people. They should develop clear and transparent standards for reporting, investigating, and disciplining officers who do not comply.
- Train the police to be members of the community, not just armed patrolmen. Police should be trained on how to develop better relationships with their communities – training that incorporates culture, diversity, mental illness training, youth development, bias, and racism.
Brothers and sisters – it is time to build a movement to not take our frustrations, conditions, and fears on oneself – or take it out on our friends, families, and neighbors – but to use our energies and abilities to build unity in our communities – to fight for legislative actions (at the local, state, and national levels) that directly address racial profiling, excessive use of enforcement – without addressing the foundations. With so many problems being faced by our society, there is the need for coalitions to develop between all of us — in advancing a leadership that combats prejudice, racism, sexism, and homophobia — and builds our unity in advancing solutions to the structural issues of racism, poverty, and inequality in our communities.
Closing Plenary Presentation: “Summary Themes of URBAN Research, Action, and Activism Conference”
CUNY Graduate Center
Jose Zapata Calderon
April 1, 2016
First of all, I want to thank Celina Su and organizers of the URBAN Research, Action, and Activism conference. We have come a long way at a time when we are in a critical time period in this country. Thank you for including the elders (of which I am one) alongside the voice of the community-based organizations at this conference that are carrying out exemplary work – and leading the way in making the “road by walking.”
One of the overall themes that I take with me, from this conference, and that the speakers and participants consistently mentioned throughout the conference, is the need to develop and advance liberatory spaces – where we cross borders of self-determination and solidarity – where the resources that we produce are used, not to create a patriarchal greedy society that defines achievement on the basis of profit for a few – but that unites our communities in using what we produce to build a more just and equitable society. We have the power to do this! We have the power to build such spaces of equality! And we have the power to turn this country around!
We have the power to decolonize our educational system so that our Black and Brown children, our children of color, are no longer seen as criminals but are allowed to develop to the fullest of their capacities and to be treated like the geniuses that they are. It is true that every child is born a genius but this system destroys that capacity very early on. We have the capacity, as all of you have reiterated in the break-out sessions, to stop the school to prison pipeline by creating “safe spaces” where students are exposed to a curriculum that looks at the systemic and structural aspects of inequity, that brings to center stage the contributions of our diverse communities – who – because of poverty, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, immigrant status, and physical/mental challenges have been historically excluded without a voice. Without this, our students will be taught to blame themselves and to take their frustrations our on themselves, on their families, on their neighborhoods – instead of taking out on the structure that is creating those conditions. As all of you have spoken – to get there – we need to love the children, our parents, our grandparents, our families – and organize our communities in solidarity – to advance a democratic movement that includes teachers, professors, and students to use research and data to advance new model of open spaces, collective spaces – where our children, our young people, are allowed to develop the highest levels of their potentiality.
We have the capacity to create new models of development – new models of research, teaching, and organizing that stops gentrification, stops the creation of homelessness, and stops charity-driven top-down pedagogies (that keep our communities without the needed information and new technologies to raise their voices). Yes, new technologies such as we have experienced at this conference in the application of Pluto data to expose gentrification and the ills of corporate capital where the sole measure of development is based on profit — the use of new “public space” research and engagement technologies that advance the historical beauty, culture, art, music, knowledge, and contributions of our diverse communities.
We have the power to make immigrant rights a human rights issue. We have the power to unite our diverse communities, our people of color communities – to defend the rights of our LGBTQ, Muslim, women, children, immigrant brothers and sisters – to stop the criminalization – the mass deportation – and support DACA/DAPA and full citizenship rights – while realizing that citizenship in itself is not an end all in ensuring long-term full equality rights. We know, as pointed out by the immigrant rights panelists today, that without the labor of our immigrant brothers and sisters, many industries in this country would be in economic distress – and that these industries are literally demanding the need for these workers – but want them, as in the past to continue as a cheap labor force. Our undocumented brothers and sisters have earned the right to full legalization, to keep their families together, and to receive back the benefits that they have already contributed to this economy and to economies abroad.
We have the power to create new examples of sustaining ourselves, sustaining our organizations, sustaining our communities, and building alliances through creating quality of life models such as URBAN, where we not only hug each other in acts of unity but support each other through our bold and non-compromising research and pedagogy. This was the character of Marilyn Jacobs Gitell, why we have celebrated her life at this conference, and why we have brought to center stage the stories of others who, like Marilyn, used their research, teaching, and organizing to advance spaces in our communities that are liberatory, restorative, and transformative.
We have the power to create new spaces and new models of the future. We have the power to combat those forces that, rather than promoting policies to invest in quality of health, jobs, housing, education, and enrichment — advance the blaming of immigrants, the poor, people of color, women, the physically and mentally challenged, working people, and our LGBTQ communities – to divide us – to keep us fighting with each other over diminishing resources – and to keep our communities from coalescing around the issues that our people confront every day in their communities.
This conference, as Dee Dee Williams pointed out – has “lit a fire” in all of us – to keep us going – to not stop here – to leave this conference with the passion and vision to build new “spaces of equity” – true democracy – and where our research, teaching, and organizing serve the overcoming of systemic and historical injustices to build the kind of just and equal society that we all want to live in.
The Future of Public Education
At the The Next System Teach-in at UC Santa Barbara on
April 16, 2016
By Jose Zapata Calderon
Muchisimas Gracias por la invitacion. Hay momentos en nuestras vidas que nos transforman. Yo se que muchos de ustedes se acuerdan de momentos transformativos en sus vidas. La base de me mi transformacion era entre la connecsion de mi educasion, mi trabajo, mi familia, y movimientos para desarollar cambios. Mis palabras hoy vienen de mis experencias como trabajador, profesor, padre, abuelito, y – mas que todo – como un hijo de padres inmigrantes — y como lider y organisador por la mayor parte de mi vida — en los campos, en uniones, en escuelas, en colegios, y en varias comunidades.
- Siempre comienso mis presentaciones en español para enseñar la fuerza del lenguaje – y tambien para enseñar un ejemplo de algo que se puede usar como forma de opresion o de liberacion. Si uno no puede participar – es muy duro desarollar las mas altas posibidades de desarollar nuestras capacidades. Cuantos de ustedes me entienden? Bueno, a todos ustedes que me entienden – Les damos una A y a los demas una F.
- El poder de la palabra es muy fuerte y sabemos que puede resultar en excluir estudiantes – puede resultar en bajo autoestima – en ellos creer que la culpa es de ellos y no de un Sistema que da la culpa a los maestros y no a las condiciones historicas y estructurales que son el base del problema. En este momento estoy usando el poder de la palabra para oprimir.
I will stop here because I know that there are many of you who do not understand Spanish. I began my presentation by thanking all of your and especially the Next System teach-in coordinators Emily Williams and Gary Lytlefor inviting me to be here with you today. I explained that there are moments in our lives that are transformational and that everyone here can point to transformational moments in their lives that became the foundations of principles and values for long-term change. The foundations of the transformations in my life had all to do with the connections between education, labor, family, and social change activism.
It is in this context — that my presentation today is based on — my lived experience as a worker, professor, father, grandfather – and most importantly – as a son of immigrant farm workers – and as a social justice organizer in the fields, in unions, in the schools, in colleges, and in diverse communities. I always begin my presentations in Spanish to reflect power relations – and to show, for a moment, how exclusion can be used as a form of oppression. If one is not able to participate, there is no way that one can develop one’s capacities to the highest levels. I asked how many of you understand me – and shared that those who understood me would receive an A and those who did not – an F. We know that this form of structural exclusion can result in low self-esteem in our students with a belief that they are responsible – and a power structure that places the blame on our teacher – and not on the historical or systemic conditions that are the foundations of the problem.
It is this systemic and structural oppression that I want to talk about to you today – and I am so heartened to be speaking to so many of you who are building and constructing with the tools of education – for, as we know, education is truly a tool for overcoming domestication, scapegoating, and exclusion.
With the growth of a global economy, there is the need for a type of educational system that promotes the building of new models toward a democratic society. However, there is a trend emerging in our present educational system that wants to take us back to the days of reproducing individuals to fit a more authoritarian philosophy. This trend seeks to promote a managerial “banking” system where the power of disseminating knowledge is being transferred to the needs of the business and political establishments. This shift fits into the early twentieth century industrial model of schools where students were socialized in assembly-like rows to be taught the status quo and not to be heard from. With the promotion of standardized tests and quantitative methods that evaluate the performances of both teachers and students, there is a diminishing of the space for the creation of democratic bridges between what is being learned in the classroom and the challenges of democratic decision-making in our communities. This trend is characterized by the growth of for-profit corporate charter schools and companies who are redefining the meaning of education by taking money out of public schools. In the debate over the state of our educational system, unfortunately — many taxpayers have been led to believe that the issue is only about the quality of our teachers and not about the poverty and racism – the structural inequities that many of our underrepresented students and their families confront every day in their communities. There is no getting around that in many of our cities half of all black and Latino young people are not graduating from our high schools – and that most are finding themselves on the unemployment lines, in poverty, or in jail. Einstein once said that every child is born a genius – but we all know now how easily this capacity can be taken away before and after birth. Think of the mother working in the fields in her 8th month of pregnancy – and pesticides swarming all around her – affecting whether that child is going to be born with hands, with legs, with the brilliant mind of our generations. Think of the child who is born without access to good nutrition, good health care – and immigrant parents who work double shifts without the time needed to fully care for the needs of that child. Think of the young woman who is scorned in school for not being able to speak English – scorned for having an accent – the young woman who is paid less because of her skin color, because of her gender – and the young man and young woman bullied because of their sexual orientation. There are structural issues here and that is why we have to fight for structural solutions such as supporting the campaign of Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds – for we know that the success of our students is also tied to the state of their health and the conditions in the homes and communities from where they come from.
Of course there are those who think that the success of our educational system can be done just by changing the curriculum or improving our teacher training. There are others who hail the growth of charter schools and advocate voucher systems to solve the problem. What we already know is that these efforts have been attempted and that there are consistent flaws in their implementation. We know now that the method of standardized testing has resulted in minimal improvements. And we know that charter schools are overall not doing any better than public schools – and, in fact, educating fewer English learners and special needs children – and contributing to racial segregation.
In this realm of thinking, there are those who advocate that low test scores are caused by bad teachers – and that if you Get rid of the bad teachers — all students will get high test scores. The reality is, as we know, that teachers do not give tenure to themselves. Instead of acknowledging that test scores are highly correlated with family income – instead of acknowledging the structural issues of large class sizes, the lowest per pupil funding rates of k-12 schools in the nation, the decrease in programs and services for students with the greatest needs, the rise in tuition and fee increases in our system of higher education, and the limited access to public preschool — they prefer to blame teachers and the very idea of public education. We know otherwise – we know that the improvement of education will not be done through laws that blame all teachers, campaigns by privately-funded corporations, and solutions that leave out the economic, resource, racial, and historical factors ( the foundations of many of the problems in our educational system). This trend, brothers and sisters, — rather than tapping the passionate reason as to why so many college graduates become teachers — vilifies teachers and is forcing many to turn away from the educational world as a career.
The real issue, we know, is not the quality of education — but it is the issue of inequality. There is no getting around, as Professor Mark Warren in his article Transforming Public Education points out that children from poor families score lower than those from higher-income communities and that there is a growing achievement gap between high and low-income students. There is no getting around that students of color, particularly Black and Latino, end up in schools that have less qualified teachers, larger class sizes, fewer and older textbooks, older facilities, and fewer computers than schools in more affluent communities.
There is no getting around the issues of poverty and race where more than a third of all black children are in poverty – where large numbers of African American and Latino Children grow up in poverty neighborhoods – with problems surrounding them of crime, violence, substandard housing, unemployment, lack of jobs, and environmental degradation. These conditions affect the lives of the young children – young people. These conditions result in Black and Latino have the highest suspension and expulsion rates – with Black students, for example, who make up 16 percent of public school students have over 31 percent of the suspensions and expulsions. And we know where many of these students who drop out or who do not graduate – end up — in what is called the school-to prison pipeline.
Mass deportations and mass incarcerations have been expanding to unconscionable levels in recent years – leading to separation of families – children left without parents – poverty, unemployment, homelessness – in our communities. Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few decades. The majority of those incarcerated are black and brown. There are more African Americans under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. And these realities are connected to the right to vote. As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
Yes, we know the outcomes — And with a felony conviction – we know that these young people cannot get a job when they get out – they cannot vote.
With so many problems being faced by our society, there is the need for coalitions to develop between our parents, teachers, students, unions, and community-based organizations, and in advancing new forms of research, learning, and practice that can help develop a citizenry and a leadership in the future that takes up the structural issues of racism, poverty, and inequality in our communities. Brothers and sisters, we do have to change our schools. We do have to change the media portrayal of our Black and Latino brothers and sisters – and the low expectations and bias – and the blame of parents — that some of our teachers and administrators have of our people of color as a result of some of these stereotypes. We do have to change the reality of geographic segregation – and the amount of resources that go to higher-income – upper-middle class schools – resulting in these students having less expulsions, more graduating – having privilege pathways to higher education and ultimately higher incomes and better jobs. We do have to change our schools but we also have to change how they interact and deal with the communities of inequality from where many of our students are coming from – yes we have to do this- – by accepting the reality of geographic segregation and that our focus also has to include organizing against all forms of racial segregation and taking up the issues in the communities where our students are coming from – the issues of housing, development, jobs, health, and immigrant rights. This is why, in my work, we are in unity with the movement to amend Proposition 13 so that, while homeowners and small businesses can be protected against escalating property taxes – that large businesses are properly assessed based on the fair market value of their properties – and that there is equality in ensuring equality of resources in all school districts – regardless of where they are located.
We need a movement – an educational justice movement – the seeds of which we are already beginning to see among young people nationally, among teachers, among parents that are focusing on both changing the schools from within but connecting to the larger issues of poverty, racism, inequality in our communities – which are often the source of many problems in our schools.
As an example – In Pomona, a city, which is 70% Latino, 10% Black, and 7% Asian Pacific Islanders – my students used community-based engagement and research, alongside parents, in helping to defeat a bill that would have wiped out district elections (which have resulted in more representation of people of color). We have advanced community and coalition-building (again, with parents, students, teachers, and community-based organizations in transforming a city-based strategy of dealing with “gangs” simply through enforcement and incarceration to one that understands that “gang violence would not exist if they (gangs) did not satisfy the desperate needs of young people for family, education, mentoring, housing, employment, health, spiritual, and social support.” It has been these grassroots efforts that have been effective in developing an “economic justice plan” that includes the capacity-building strategies of quality jobs, housing, health, education, and pre-school/after-school programs (particularly in the low-income sectors of the community). More recently, we have brought Pomona Unified school and city officials together with parents, students, and our community-based organizations in joining together to implement the concept of “community schools.” This partnership has led to the school holding forums with the Center for Democracy – the school being a co-sponsor with community-based organizations and parents in implementing DACA immigrant rights clinics, driver’s license workshops, Matricula clinics drawing thousands – and Cesar Chavez Pilgrimage marches on the issues of funding for education, ethnic studies, and support for the minimum wage. More recently, our coalition has endorsed and is actively organizing support for SB 1050 (introduced by one of my former students, Senate Pro Tempore Kevin De Leon) which, if passed, will help to level the playing field and create a pipeline of educational opportunity and success for K-12 public school students — especially those who are low income(with 58% who are from low income families) and includes English learners – and foster youth of all backgrounds — to be better prepared for and graduate from California’s public universities.
Our support for these initiatives needs to be based on an educational justice movement that is proactive in our schools — that is based on a type of teaching, learning, and organizing where: there is a passion for creating spaces of equity; but – where at the same time – connects to the issues of poverty, racism, exclusion, and inequality in our communities — where students are exposed to a curriculum that does not just deal with the problems in the society but that looks at the systemic and structural aspects of inequity; that brings to center stage the contributions of communities who (because of poverty, racism, sexism, classism, or homophobia) have historically been excluded from our textbooks; and that involves students in working alongside excluded communities on common projects to implement transformative social change.
As we seek to develop coalitions, it is important for us to look toward new ways of carrying out democratic forms of learning and curriculum building in our classrooms – that include a vision goes beyond the measurement of the quality of one’s capacity merely on standardized testing – to one that that allows for the fullest potential, creativity, and capacity of our students, of our teachers, of our parents, of our community leaders – to connect to new models of building democratic participation in our communities– new models that can help in advancing a more democratic and socially just culture in our schools and in the larger society.
There are too many media commentators, too many books, too many politicians, too many pessimists — that have us believing that we cannot cultivate. The reality is that our communities know a lot – but are diminished in the possibilities for positioning and taking back the legacies of creation that have been so much a part of our history.
We know that there is no secret to reaching this level and that it takes our organizing efforts – and the support of each other to change the structural obstacles. Whether the optimal possibilities can come to be realities for our children – for our young people – for our brothers and sisters in the future – has a lot to do with the engagement of all of us here and our communities in advancing an educational justice movement locally and nationally for the resources, leadership, and changes that are needed to meet the needs of our children, parents, and families.
I want to urge all of you – to leave here with a passion – to use whatever opportunity the past and the present have developed – to go as far as you can – in accumulating all the knowledge that you can –and using that knowledge to build new schools — a new society – on the level of the future – in trying out new prescriptions of cultivation in how we structure our communities, our schools, our cities, our spaces of higher education. This is the real challenge – to not shirk our responsibilities of cultivation to the legacies of past generations – and take on the problems of our communities – This is the real meaning of why we need to build strong coalitions again and a strong movement locally and nationally.
We are geniuses – and we have to change the mentality of a society that begins to stratify one from the time one is born – according to the village that raises us – and the resources available to deter or advance the resources of potentiality.
We need you to cultivate – to create spaces in our homes, programs, and with families that are examples of the kind of world that we want to live in.
But, in addition to cultivating and creating those spaces- it is essential to build a powerful and political social movement – where we are together – not alone as individuals – but in coalitions, — in partnerships — finding a common ground with students, parents, and community-based groups – to take on the challenge of organizing our co-workers – in our schools, in our communities to build a strong movement for the future of public education – for the future of social and economic justice — to get involved in building new collaborations to ensure that the priorities of this country are not just about profit for a few – but are about sustaining and ensuring the resources necessary for the many. Let us all cultivate together — then — so that our families – so that our future generations — have the type of high quality education, employment, nutrition, healthcare, and caring that they deserve. Si Se Puede!