Although I’ve written about novels, the theme of justice shows up in other forms of literature. I have come across the most marvelous book. It is called DreamFields: A Peek into the World of Migrant Youth. This book is an anthology of writing by migrant youth of Mount Vernon WA, editied by Janice Blackmore.
Blackmore suggests that a great part of justice is the willingness to learn about each others’ worlds and experience. This anthology showcases the willingness of these Skagit Valley young people to find the courage to speak up about what their world is like, and what they have experienced in the wealthiest land in the world. These teen-agers come from a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds and levels of education. They are the children of the seasonal workers in agriculture who live in this area of the USA. What is their experience? What is uppermost in their hearts?
The stories the children tell include:
Vivid stories of crossing the border between Mexico and the USA.
Talk of “The American Dream” and “The Promised Land”
Grinding anxiety about getting sent away, or parents being sent away, and the effect of these fears on school work and hopes for the future
Enduring demeaning talk and actions
Enduring social isolation and getting into trouble
Poverty and endless work on top of school work
Dreams of succeeding at school and hopes for the future
Here are a few samples of the writing.
The people in the government do not want to give us papers, they do not want us to reach for the stars. Is it because they do not want kids to have dreams? Or is it because they do not know how it feels to work day and night under the burning sun with its rays making us weak and tired? Above all I think it is because they do not know the pain and suffering a kid might feel when he wakes up to the loud noise of knocking and of men arresting his parents…because of a piece of paper. They do not know the pain of the kid that now needs to struggle to survive, to find a way to eat, and even feed his brothers and sisters. They can’t even count the endless tears of sadness the kid drops… “A Piece of Paper“ p. 24.
Thoughts keeping me up all night, thinking who’s next…fearing my family could just all disappear. Parents could be taken away while kids are sitting at school, teachers teaching them about justice…. “End the Wars” p. 31
Many issues compose the complex questions around Immigration and the building of the Great Wall. Yet it is hard to read these stories without recognizing the humanity of migrant peoples and to remember that all peoples are connected and bear a responsibility to one another to show respect and give dignity and care.
I hear my people cry out for a better life…so with great hopes they go to the land of dreams, a land that has people from all over the world. But when my people came, they looked at us and said, Get out! They hunted us like animals. The Promised Land, p. 25
DreamFields: A Peek into the World of Migrant Youth. Edited by Janice Blackmore, http://dreamfieldsbook.wordpress.com