Cesar Chavez: This Film Has an Important Message for White People

Cesar Chavez: This Film Has an Important Message for White People

CESAR CHAVEZ White lady from Portland, get out of the way.

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Finally, a film that tells white liberals exactly how they can help poor and exploited minorities who are struggling against some form of white-controlled state/corporate power! Cesar Chavez is set in the 1960s, in the period of assassinations and political unrest, and focuses on the unionization of farm laborers in California. The always-handsome Michael Peña stars as the world-famous union organizer.

There is one scene in particular that all white liberals must watch and learn from: A white American woman from (of course) Portland, Oregon, approaches Chavez, who is leading a 300-mile march from the hinterlands to the capital of California, and asks how can she help end the injustice. Chavez tells her straight: Stop how you are consuming and also encourage your white friends to do the same. The grapes and other fruits and vegetables grown in the region are being consumed not by the poor, but by people like you. Do not give the movement a little of your money. Do not even march with us. Just change your behavior. She nods in understanding and then leaves the movie for good. That's it.

What makes Cesar Chavez stand out from other biopics of 20th-century humanists and activists is that it's not made for a middle-class white audience. This is why its message to them is so minimal, so brief. The film, which has its moments of beauty and tenderness (the sun setting on the valley, Chavez's car packed with his wife and eight kids), is devoted to communicating basic labor union principles to those who are out on the fields, or frying things in the back of fast-food restaurants, or minding children in day-care centers. This film is for them. The history of labor unionism was removed from America's collective memory in the '80s during the Reagan revolution, and we currently live in a world where we are told again and again that there is no alternative to low wages and rising housing costs. This film says no, there is a solution, and it's found in the past, in the '60s, in the years Ronald Reagan (who is rightly demonized in this film) and his kind attacked poor Mexican and Filipino farmworkers. What was the response of labor? They unionized and fought power with power. This is the only way you will win. More power to the people. recommended


Comments (8) RSS

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Great, another rant telling white people how they should think and how they should behave. Nobody cares anymore CM; the message is played out.
Posted by rolo tomasi on March 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM · Report this
I'd say white people have about 500 more years of being told how they should behave. This message will continue to remind white people of what they have done as a collective to others in America and how that so called American Dream was not offered to all.
Posted by BHills Finest on March 26, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Then you keep right on crying in your beer for another 500 years, BHills, until you finally realize it has brought you nothing. Good luck with that.

You lost your intended audience long ago, my friend. You think it might be time to try a new approach?
Posted by rolo tomasi on March 26, 2014 at 3:08 PM · Report this
FWIW, many/most Hispanics consider themselves "white", no matter the color of their skin. It's a cultural thing, where status is conferred by skin color, and nobody wants to admit to being brown.
Posted by kbatku on March 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 5
It's high time non-White STOP holding White people up as the ideal, the standard, the pinnacle. It is not easy to lift your own banner, but at some point non-Whites are going to have to grow up. White Man is not your God, stop placing him on a stand. "More power to the people", for those willing to do the work to get that power. The rest just tell others how to behave or Have "an Important Message for White People."
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 27, 2014 at 10:49 PM · Report this
@4 Waiiittttt... are you white?
Posted by By your own assertion.... on March 30, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Godzilla1916 7
Is it because we are in the PNW that you lead with such a racist headline? You Mr. Mudede are NOT my cultural dictator, just because you are a minority, does not give you license to assume that anyone white is automatically an institutional racist. I think this film has been a long time coming and I am thrilled to learn more about C. Chavez. Your blatant effort to point out that this film is not a "white moment" or that you believe you are the authority to announce what the privileged whiteys need to know about this film is so arrogant and obvious of the self important bubble you must exist in. The U.S. has a tragic and glorious labor history, one regardless of color affects all of us who work for our livelihoods. Black, White, Latino, Asian, whatever have all contributed to the rise of worker rights in this country; the story is in the struggle that Mr. Chavez bravely fought, and how the American Right is slowly reversing. So please spare me from your hubris and let's start talking about the real issue: classism.
Posted by Godzilla1916 on March 31, 2014 at 10:08 AM · Report this
As a person of color, the staggering lack of basic sociological, historical, and economic education on display in the comments is very disheartening.
Posted by srslydude on April 2, 2014 at 8:27 AM · Report this

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