Winning the title of “Best Underreported Issue” in the 2015 Real Food Media Contest is a double-edged sword. While it is valiant to shed light on this issue that’s happening right in our (Seattle’s) backyard, the title raises a larger question: Why is this issue–one that we all actively (through purchasing) and passively (through neutrality) participate in–underreported? The injustices that migrant farm workers face everyday–underpayment, wage theft, inhumane working and living conditions, deportation threats, structural and symbolic violence, and outright bigotry–has flown so far under the radar of mainstream media…until recently.
On July 10th 2013, a group of 240 farmworkers employed at the Sakuma Brother’s Berry Farm located in Burlington, WA enacted their first labor strike and confronted the owners and operators of the farm, Ryan and Steve Sakuma, about unjust and inhumane living and working conditions. Thirteen days later, the farmworkers instated a second strike and formed a picket line in response to differential treatment (source).
Fast forward two years and three months later, these farmworkers are still fighting, relentlessly, for the fair and equitable treatment they deserve as human beings. Luckily, the movement has grown and there are a few more friends to stand alongside them in solidarity. Check out the progress from the September 20th PCC boycott.
Unfortunately, the fight is far from over. Fortunately, NOW is the time for the greater community to act in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have risked so much to nourish our bodies through food. Every time we eat without intention we uphold the oppressive food system that is built on the backs of black, brown, and yellow folks, but functions to benefit/uphold white supremacy. Neutrality in a racist food system is not an option.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
Never has Desmond Tutu’s words rung more true.
So How can we stand in Solidarity with the Boycotters?
- STOP PURCHASING FROM DRISCOLL’S. For those who have purchasing power, we are actively upholding the oppressive systems every time we move money towards companies like Sakuma Brothers Farm and Driscoll’s Berries.
- MAKE THE CALL/SEND AN EMAIL. Take direct action through communicating your solidarity with the boycotters to your grocery suppliers. Here is a prompt that CARW recently used to call PCC.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF. This movement is lead by Familias Unidas por la Justicia, whose website is a wealth of knowledge directly from the source. And if you can, read Fresh Fruit Broken Bodies by Seth M. Holmes, which chronicles five years of ethnographic field-research on Mexican migrant farmworkers’ experiences including accounts of life on Sakuma Brothers Farms.
- SPREAD THE WORD. Start dialogue with your community, your friends, family, co-workers. Raise awareness in spaces that may not have consciousness. Be vocal.
- LISTEN & TAKE CUES. Follow FUJ on Facebook for realtime updates on what boycotters need.
- SHOW UP. If you can, come to a protest. Putting your body on the line is a powerful demonstration of solidarity. If you act as an ally, just remember to make space, not take space, and follow the lead of the organizers.
- MOVE MONEY THROUGH DONATIONS. Invest directly in the movement by donating here. Contributes help sustain the movement and the people who are on the front lines.