Farm Workers: From The Shadows Into The Light -- By: Richard B. Cook

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 02:1 (Fall 1984)
Article: Farm Workers: From The Shadows Into The Light
Author: Richard B. Cook

Farm Workers:
From The Shadows Into The Light

Richard B. Cook

Formerly on the Stall of the National Farm Worker Ministry

“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people ....”

Thomas Jefferson
Notes on Virginia1

“There are times, you know, when I ask myself what I ever did to deserve a deal like this. You know what I mean? I mean I feel there must be someone who’s decided you should live like this, for something wrong that’s been done.”

A farm worker on the East Coast
Migrant Stream, father of six2

The ideology of racial supremacy has cast a long shadow far ahead of itself, extending into our own time and doubtless far into the future. These notions of superiority become most potent in an environment of forgetfulness of history. When permitted to flourish unhindered and uncombatted, racism is insidious both for the destruction it brings down upon its victims and also because of the subtlety by which these ideas and theories insinuate themselves into the matrix of beliefs and customs of peoples the world over.

The situation of farm workers provides a contemporary example of the distressing and pervasive impact which racial exclusivism has within our culture. For Christians, who accept responsibility for the renewal of God’s creation, the issue is a critical one, This is so because those who position themselves against excluded and deprived persons are so often part of the life of the local and the institutional church. The issue is sociological as well as theological because middle class Christians are frequently disengaged from the living problems of impoverished people. The issue is also thoroughly political because the jurisdiction of government has been broadened to cover virtually every aspect of modern life. Unless the sociological and political aspects of our culture are addressed, theological commentary amounts to little more than bells and whistles; the management of the engine is in other hands.

Short And Long Memory

For generations the dreams and hopes of people who pick the crops in America have been cruelly refuted by experience. Temporary quarters in rural slums, domination by cruel and unscrupulous labor contractors, the

daily fear of deportation by government agents, and exclusion of oneself and one’s children from health care and educational opportunities are both terrible and commonplace concerns for farm workers.3 ...

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