Friday, October 5, 2012

Breaking my silence

Below is an email from Helen F. Chavez, the widow of Cesar Chavez. Helen started a petition on, the nonprofit site that allows anyone to start their own online petition.

Sign the petition

Dear MoveOn member,

My name is Helen Chavez, and I am the widow of Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers. All these years, I chose to stay in the background. I never spoke in public or did an interview with a reporter.

But I'm speaking out now—because after all these years it is no longer acceptable for respected news organizations to refer to human beings as "illegal."

An action can be illegal—a human being cannot be. Calling a person "illegal" is dehumanizing, and all Latinos, especially our children, feel the pain when this word is uttered.

That's why I started a petition on calling on major news organizations—starting with The New York Times—to end the dehumanizing practice of calling people "illegal."

Click here to sign the petition: Stop using the word "illegal" to refer to farm workers and other Latinos.

Back in 1962, farm workers were treated as though we were agricultural tools. One grower called us "rented slaves." Working in the fields, I remember we were called "wetbacks," "dirty Mexicans," and worse. It was common then in parts of our country for African-Americans to also be degraded by those who called them the "n" word or used stereotypes because of their skin color or who they were. 

Today, farm workers and many other immigrants do important work for low pay and under miserable conditions. We harvest the greatest bounty of food in the world. We spend our lives laboring in service jobs where we make beds, clean rooms, cook meals, and care for the young and the elderly. We work in construction and manufacturing. We serve our country in the military. 

Why should we tolerate farm workers and other Latinos being treated this way? Some day not long from now people will look back and ask, "How could people call other people names like illegal?"

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.


–Helen F. Chavez, widow of Cesar Chavez

This petition was created on, the progressive, nonprofit petition site. is sponsored by MoveOn Civic Action, which is not responsible for the contents of this or other petitions posted on the site. Helen F. Chavez, widow of Cesar Chavez didn't pay us to send this email—we never rent or sell the list.

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This email was sent to eddie alfaro on October 5, 2012. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list, click here.

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