To explore the historical roots of the multiracial strike actions that took shape in California’s fields during the 1930s, this essay examines the social and cultural practices of Imperial Valley farm workers during the years that preceded the 1930 lettuce strike. It illuminates how cross-racial alliances among Imperial Valley farm workers were shaped by radical traditions that overlapped in the Imperial Valley’s fields, in grassroots knowledge about racial capitalist development in the region, and in the community ties and networks that farm workers forged in the course of their everyday struggles. I ultimately argue that, by 1930, the Imperial Valley saw the crystallization of an oppositional expression of multiracialism at the grassroots. Against dominant patterns of racial competition and hierarchy that governed the region’s political economic development, grassroots expressions of oppositional multiracialism hinged on a sense of mutual interdependence and shared vulnerability that linked the variegated struggles of farm workers with one another. Indicative of neither a unifying political agenda nor a homogenizing “class” or “American” identity, this was a multiracialist politics that treated difference and intersectionality as constitutive features of political solidarity, within a collective struggle against the dehumanizing effects of racial capitalism and U.S. imperialism.
Grassroots Multiracialism: Imperial Valley Farm Labor and the Making of Popular Front California from Below
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Elizabeth E. Sine; Grassroots Multiracialism: Imperial Valley Farm Labor and the Making of Popular Front California from Below. Pacific Historical Review 1 May 2016; 85 (2): 227–254. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2016.85.2.227
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