Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-2

"Do work that matters. Que vale la pena,” urged writer and theorist Gloria Anzaldúa. We collaborated on this anthology moved by the desire to contribute to this ethos. We wanted to highlight the lives, struggles, and contributions of toda la gente de los valles—the Imperial and the San Joaquin Valleys, and of other agricultural valleys—whose lives are regulated by the harshness and fertile bounty of agricultural life. Our hope is that by making visible their contributions, we are honoring the lives and strength of the people from these valles. ¡Gracias por su presencia y su fuerza! We also...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-33

Ester Hernández, a visual artist from the small farming town of Dinuba in California’s San Joaquin Valley, remembers her counselor’s response when she said she wanted to study art in college. “When I graduated from high school in 1962, the school counselor laughed when I told her I wanted to be a professional artist and said there was no need for an artist in a farming community. She said that my best chance to use my art was to try to get a job drawing facial composites of people the police were looking for—people of color. This was not acceptable to me or to my family, so I began...

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“All Work Is Honorable”: An Artistic Journey from El Valle to La Bahía

Ester Hernández

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pp. 34-42

The intersection of culture and environment in El Valle de San Joaquin has been a significant reference point for me throughout my life and career. I was born in 1944 and raised in Dinuba, California, a sleepy farming town founded by Chinese men who had worked on the transcontinental railroad and moved into the rural segregated areas of the valley. Nestled at the northeast base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Tulare County, Dinuba is surrounded by a seemingly endless landscape of rich farmland: a vibrant maze of rivers, canals, and ditches provides nourishment to...

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Imperial Valley Vignettes: Mosaico de un vivir rural

José R. Padilla

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pp. 43-58

The place called Imperial Valley, like Brawley, my town of birth, has always begun my narrative of “home.” Ernesto Galarza’s description of desert, water, and the entry of Mexican humanity into our corner of rural geography gives us the contour of what brought the two sides of my family to this place we refer to as “the Valley.” Memories of youth, memories of place, and memories of family are the ingredients for my definition of home. In the course of my own identity development, particularly ethnicity, I have come to use “home” and “community” interchangeably. It is experiencing...

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Nuestro camino es más largo” (Our Journey Is Much Longer): A Testimonio from a Daughter of Mexican Immigrants Turned Professor in the Academy

Rosa M. Jiménez

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pp. 59-78

Throughout my life, I have come home to Modesto more times than my heart can remember. It is my heart rather than my mind that remembers and keeps Modesto ever present. No matter where I live, I always say, “I’m going home” when I head toward the Central Valley. As I write this testimonio, I am in Modesto—home once again for the summer. Perhaps it’s meant to be that I’m in the Central Valley visiting my parents and sleeping in the house that has been our family home since I was thirteen. I’m no longer a teenager; to an outsider, I am a long way from the little girl with...

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Living / Leaving Home: Legacies of History and Multiple Migrations

Yolanda Flores

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pp. 79-99

Some readers might know that biographers of Frida Kahlo often note this brilliant Mexican painter cited her year of birth erroneously as 1910 to make it coincide with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, the eleven-year civil war that with indigenous leaders such as Emiliano Zapata demanding tierra y libertad (land and freedom) held hope of economic, political, and social reform for Mexico’s underclasses (Herrera 2002). These years of civil unrest led to the first massive Mexican immigration into the United States. I am not pulling a Frida Kahlo when I write that my birth...

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Siguiendo adelante”: Inscribing Home Below, At, and Above Sea Level

Gloria H. Cuádraz

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pp. 100-120

In the late 1950s in Brawley’s east side, neither class nor racial lines blurred, as the railroad tracks still largely separated the Mexican and white communities brought together by the rerouting of waters from the Colorado River, irrigation, and the agricultural enterprise that ensued. I am from the California-Mexico desert borderlands, tierra up to 287 feet below sea level, from a place once considered uninhabitable, from a place that during the summer months competes with the Mojave Desert for the hottest and most humid place in the American Southwest. It was Paul S. Taylor (1966), one of the first...

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The Seeds They Planted

Daniel “Nane” Alejándrez

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pp. 121-133

I truly believe that we all need to tell our stories, and that is especially true for us, the people of color. We need to document our stories so that the younger generation knows that a better life is possible. It has always been hard to get books by our own people published. Someone always comes along and tells our stories for us. To express how we feel and how we see things, we must give our testimonies from our own perspectives. I am learning to be a storyteller for my people....

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Transitions: The Dolorous Return of a Chicana/o Trans-Fronterizo

Francisco J. Galarte

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pp. 134-157

As I write this, I am beginning my second year as a tenure-track assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona. It has been nearly fifteen years since I moved away from my hometown of Brawley, California. In August 2011, when I first arrived in Tucson, I experienced a kind synchronicity with my maternal grandmother. It was in Tucson by way of Nogales that at age ten, almost ninety years ago, she began her life and work in the United States. Now here I was at age thirty settling in Tucson to begin working as a university professor—a world apart from...

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Traversing the Unknown: The Making of a Scholar and Mentor in Higher Education

Caroline Sotello Viernes Turner

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pp. 158-175

I begin my story of leaving home with my first recollection of coming home. As I ran through the door coming home from school, my mother was in the kitchen making flour tortillas, a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice ready for me. I was about seven years old and I remember helping my mother make the tortillas—I can still smell and taste them to this day. She would show me how to mix together just the right amounts of water, flour, lard, baking soda, and salt. We would form the dough in the palms of our hands into small, fat circles that we rolled out into larger and thinner round tortillas. I loved the smell of...

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Hijo de la frontera

Roberto Moreno

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pp. 176-193

One hot summer day in 1946, I was born into the very American and very Mexican town of Calexico, California. It was the perfect place for a bright Chicanito with parents dedicated to having their children succeed in school.1 My two brothers and I spoke Spanish at home and learned English at school and “Spanglish” in the streets. We lived in a mixed ethnic neighborhood reflecting the town’s population (75 percent Hispanic, 24 percent Anglo, and 1 percent Chinese). Next door, north of our home, lived the Wright family with two children. Mr. Wright was the manager...

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“Sewer Girl”: A Journey of Personal and Community Transformation

Enid Pérez

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pp. 194-210

On a misty cloud-covered day in 1982, I walked to the University of California, Berkeley, to start my first day of college. As I passed through Sather Gate, I saw a man on red crutches, dressed in polka dots. I had no idea what his purpose was, but I knew that I was not in Del Rey, my hometown, anymore, and that my life had taken a turn in a different direction. The sight of him was refreshing and stimulating. I even walked up to him and said hello. He did not respond, but instead continued writing nonsensical symbols in the little red book he carried. I was not alarmed by...

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Desert Hues: Reflexiones sobre “una buena educación”

John J. Halcón

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pp. 211-223

A flooding Colorado River early in the twentieth century brought life to the Salton Sea, and thus the Imperial Valley. A desert transformed by cheap government water to encourage farming changed the valley from just another desert into one hundred miles square of prime agricultural land and year-round farming.
Summers in the valley begin in April and end in October. One hundred twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit in late July, followed by a brief autumn, winter,...

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Weaving Testimonies of the San Joaquin Valley Fields, Community, and Higher Education: Affirming Knowledge and Justice from the Bottom Up

Manuel Barajas

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pp. 224-237

In a memory of my childhood, I wake up in a small adobe house and find myself alone. Everything is dark and quiet. I step out of a room into a pitch-black patio and quickly return, feeling scared, and climb into a string-woven bench. I curl up like a seashell, shut my eyes tight, and fall asleep. I don’t remember anyone coming. My siblings were in the plaza around the block from the house. It was the early 1970s in Michoacán, Mexico, I was about two years old, and both of my parents were working in the fields in el norte (the United States). This memory marks the beginning of a change from a predominantly...

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Shaping Boundaries: From Westmorland to the World of Social Work

Angélica Cárdenas-Chaisson

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pp. 238-245

I come from a large familia Mexicana. I am the fifth of six children. My dad was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and was raised by a single mom. He came to the United States as a young man through the Bracero Program, a complex of laws and international agreements between the U.S. and Mexican governments, beginning in 1942 and formally ending in 1964, that permitted Mexican citizens to take temporary agricultural work in the United States. Later my dad became a legal resident of the United States. On a trip to visit his family in Michoacán, he met my mother. They married on September 28,...

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Epilogue

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pp. 246-248

We organized this anthology to call for the need to “rehumanize the purpose and heart of education” by increasing our investment in public higher education and by creating an infrastructure that will increase the affordability of higher education to the working class, especially those at the intersections of marginalized social markers. Public higher education’s missions, to ensure access and quality education to the nation’s citizenry and to advance democratic values, must remain at the forefront of our national agenda. Now more than ever, with the election of Republican...

References

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pp. 249-264

Contributors

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pp. 265-270

Index

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pp. 271-282