Peacocks of the Fields: The Working Lives of Migrant Farms Workers

  • Publish Date: 2008-02-29
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Emiel Owens

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While a serving of fruits and vegetables picked by the hands of migrant farm workers adds sustenance to the American diet, infants and children are exposed to harmful pesticides. Misery, suffering, violence illness, and death may be the worker's only harvest. This memoir details the lives of a subculture in our society, a population large enough to constitute a small nation. Peacocks of the Fields: Working Life of Migrant Farm WorkersDepicts the lives of two migrant work crews composed of 50 workers, pulling sweet corn and picking red ripe tomatoes in the East Coast Migrant Stream over a migrant work season during the late 1970's. The name Kwan in this memoir is the alias for Emiel Owens, a 46-year old African American, and the Principal Investigator. Kwan shares his experience during the year as a member of the two migrant crews, highlighting how they travel, where they work, what income they earn, how they survive in deplorable work camps, and how competition for scare economic and human resources under constrained camp living conditions lead to human discards, violence and in some cases, death. As I start picking tomatoes to day, I wasn't aware that there were two separate work crews in the field. The female tomato checker with the black-and-white straw hat is with Humberto's crew; Rosa, her sister, and two brothers make up Sam's crew. Today, there is a territorial dominance intrusion between these two crews. As the two crews move toward each other, they find themselves competing for scarce fruit in a limited row space, tempers flare and a physical altercation almost takes place in the field between members of two crews. Suddenly, things become quiet and both crews leave the field. About 6:00 P.M., the two conflicting crews meet again at the Lee Brother Commissary in the labor camp. The conflict escalates to violence. Sam and his brother, Amulso, meet Humberto, his brother Francisco, and two other workers, Alexon and Jorge in a gun duel inside the bar at the comm

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