Photo Essay: California Farmworker – LeRoy
Syndic Literary Journal

Photo Essay: California Farmworker – Collateral Damage

TABLE  GRAPE  INDUSTRY  COLLATERAL  DAMAGE

Photo by Jon Lewis (c.1966)
 
The table grape industry is California’s 3rd largest commodity crop – $3 billion dollars. To visualize the size of the industry  stack the grape boxes shown in the photo end-to-end, 12 boxes high, and build a wall from Delano CA to Boston MA – a distance of 3,000 miles.
 
The two children shown in the photo are not employees,  they are victims of the collateral damage inflicted on their family by the industry. These children work with their parents during the harvest season to help them cope with the miserable wages of the piece rate system – the faster you work, the more you pick, the more you earn that day. Children work to supplement the poverty-level wages paid to their parents.
 
If education is the route to a better future and to a more just employment system, how on earth will these children ever have that opportunity if their parents are unable to earn enough to survive by working in a $3 billion industry. Social justice for these farmworkers is only a fantasy, social injustice is their daily reality.

 

Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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