By: Vashti Kelly, Program Manager
Information is knowledge and knowledge is power; but only if you are privy to that information. If there is one thing that we know about working with the Latino farmworker community, it is that trust is essential. The Latino community is not homogeneous in its makeup; a diverse, multilingual group with different life experiences, from newly immigrated to multi-generational. And, in the midst of that group are farmworkers. As with any under-served community trust is a key component, and one cannot gain access into the Latino farmworker community to provide services or information without it. Information to the migrant and seasonal farmworker community must be conveyed via a trustworthy channel, meaning someone that is known and respected.
Nowadays the majority of the Country’s radio stations are dedicated to popular music versus radio dramas, news or education. However, during the 1970’s Cesar Chavez used rural radio broadcasting as a means to organize migrant farmworkers and transform farm labor. Radio does more than inform on the topics affecting farmworkers; it also provides a form of entertainment, be it a connection to your homeland and culture or just a distraction to make working in the fields a bit easier.
The influence of radio among the Latino farmworker community is huge because it essentially levels the playing field on certain public interest issues by giving public access to everyone and not just a chosen few. It has the power to create a community among individuals who are reluctant to participate in any type of activity that might jeopardize or affect their working or immigration status. Ultimately, the influence lies in the credibility which is achieved by creating a social network of information and belonging.