A Day Without a Mexican in Oregon

By Alberto Moreno, PQ Monthly

Editor’s Note: Our Brilliant Media Team decided to reprint the following piece instead of our typical page 3. Since we first made our PQ readers aware of the ICE RAID that happened during the holiday season of 2015 we had been asked if there were any updates. We had to point out that the planting season has just begun, so the likelihood of raids happening through the harvest season are unlikely. Please do not mistake that statement – This does not mean in any way that they/WE are safe.

Que pasaría. What would happen? If we disappeared. If we stopped working. Half a million-strong us?!

160,000 farmworkers us.  If tens of thousands of restaurant workers called in sick with the brown and down flu?  If we, the teachers, the scientists, the doctors stopped. If they QUIT. Refused to serve. What if we took a well-deserved day of rest and in doing so, we exercise our relaxing power?

What if the dairy workers at Dairygold did not show up until we had safe working conditions?

If we refused to sow Oregon’s fields until we were equal injustices reaping?

What if we did not show up in your factories? Or to your homes to take care of Your children?  What if we took ourselves to the doctor for our own long-deferred needs?  If we acted as if we mattered too. As if our kids were as important, as loved as yours?

What a lovely revolution that would be.

What if we closed the 13,000 thousand small businesses and restaurants and took with us, the $1,663,452,000 in sales receipts?*   What if we refused to feed anyone else until we too were seated at justice’s table?  Wouldn’t that be a thing beautiful and entire?!

A Day without a Mexican IMGWhat if Latinos who make up 58.8% of the workforce in farming, fishing and forestry occupations stopped working? What if 28% of the labor force in grounds maintenance and cleaning, if 23.5% of materials moving, if 20% of the food industry staff and 17% of all construction staff refused to go to work anymore.** For a day. For a week for a month?!

What if we stopped working the jobs that you will not do?  Refused to be the ones you send in to remove asbestos or mold. Or installed your high pitched roofs without the benefit of health or disability insurance. What if we did not show up to clean your homes, hospitals and hotels?    What if you could no longer take credit for our work?  Who would drywall your gentrified home?  Remodel your kitchens. Pound the nails into the doors and buildings which later shutter against us?  And what if we refused to build anymore the very roads which we are not ‘legally’ permitted to drive upon?

What if we were not here? Refused to be the beasts of burden or blame anymore?  Whom would Oregon scapegoat then?

What if we said no mas!  No more. Will we stoop and bend. Stoop and bend for you.

And what if, like God, we took a holiday. A day of rest to tend to our own tired bones.

What if we stayed home with our own children to tell them the true story of us? Hardworking us. Legal us. God loved us. Us with our brown Christ-us. What if we stayed home to tell them the story of beautiful them. Removed the garment of shame from their still folding frames. Gave them back their pride.

What if they became unashamed once again about their mother’s native tongue? The one that brought them quietly into the world.

And what if we stopped spending OUR hard earned dollars. Stopped shopping at Walmart, Target or Costco’s. What if we stopped buying your hand me down cars?  If we took our $7 billion in purchasing power to only those businesses which treated us with dignity. What would happen if we ceased? Simply. From our labor?

Oregon would come to a grinding halt. Would limp along without us. And the profits made off of our low wages would disappear altogether.

But another thing would happen too. We would realize our own true worth. See for the first time or once again, our god given dignity. Which you have kept from us too long.

And Oregon. Urban and rural Oregon, would have to pause. And maybe, just maybe see our humanity too.

What a beautiful, just, Oregon this would be!

(*Figures drawn from 2010 US Census; **American Community Survey and Pew Hispanic Center)