Bil Browning

A very special interview with Dolores Huerta

Filed By Bil Browning | January 30, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: Delores Huerta, gay rights, National Day of Protest, NGLTF, special interview, UFW, United Farm Workers

This is one of those stories that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

DeloresHuertaAutograph.jpgDuring the Indianapolis event for the National Day of Protest, I shot some video of various attendees and one of them was Daniel, a young Mexican man who was a little shy about his English speaking abilities. When he did his time in front of the camera, he spoke in Spanish. (His segment starts around 2:15.) We became friends after the rally and stay in touch daily.

Yesterday's plenary speaker was Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. Daniel is a big fan of Dolores' work and since he reads Bilerico via Google Translator, I thought it might be nice to do something special for him and any of our other Latino readers who's primary language is Spanish. (And judging from the response to Daniel's segment in the video, there's quite a few!)

NGLTF's Communications Coordinator, Pedro Julio Serrano, Jerame and I hatched a plan. A good one, if I say so myself. Check it out after the jump.

Daniel is a painter while he puts himself through school so he couldn't come to Creating Change, so I thought I'd bring some of Creating Change to him in Indianapolis. As I went into the media availability with Dolores, I sent him a text message.

I am doing my interview with Dolores Huerta soon. I will do it in Spanish just for you. What questions do you want me to ask her?

He replied with questions he wanted to ask. As I walked into the meeting, Pedro and I spoke about our plan. Print journalists went first and then Univison did a segment with her. Up next? Bilerico Project.

Pedro did our interview for us. He read Daniel's questions off my iPhone to Dolores and translated the couple of questions I had as well. He even followed up on her answers! The segment is all in Spanish - just for Daniel and our other Hispanic readers. Dolores was very kind about doing the interview and thought it was a splendid way of connecting Daniel with some of the finer points he might have missed if it was only in English.

For your viewing pleasure... Daniel and Pedro's interview of Dolores Huerta for Bilerico Project:

After the interview, Dolores chatted with a few of us off the record. I told her Daniel's story; he's here working like crazy, sends money home to his family every paycheck and still finds time to put himself through school. He wants to be a civil rights lawyer. I gave Dolores his e-mail address and phone number and she's going to contact him about doing some community organizing training! She even signed an autograph for him.

For those Projectors who don't understand Spanish, I've included a clip from Dolores' plenary speech last night. The entire speech should be online soon and I'll be sure to post it when it's available. (You'll want to see it all. The legendary labor leaders is absolutely amazing. For example, did you know she was one of Harvey Milk's first supporters?)

If anyone would be so kind as to translate the Q&A in the comments section for us, I'm sure Projectors would appreciate it. (My Spanish isn't good enough to catch it all, so I'd appreciate it too!)

Final message for my friend, Daniel: Sólo para ti Daniel. Ella es tan maravillosa como dijiste que es. Me siento honrado de haber ayudado en el diálogo con tu heroína. Sigue sus pasos y pronto estaré entrevistándote sobre tu trabajo organizando a la comunidad LGBT.

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Her name is Dolores, not Delores.

Q: The firs question is, do you think Obama will approve an Immigration Reform?

A: I think He will sign it. Keep in mind, though, he only gets to sign it into law when it reaches his desk. It is up to us to do the work with congressmen and senators to get it to his desk. If we don't do this work, that won't happen. That is why we have to do a lot of work to get a law passed that will reach such desk. We need to convince Republicans-- and some Democrats, because there are some that we don't have on our side as well.

Q: Who has been a model to you in your life? A model to follow in order to get where you have gotten.

A: Models? There are many. My mother, who was a feminist in the 30s, when so few women were successful. Persons like Mr. Cesar Chavez. The man who (this part is where the audio really interferes with her low voice and lack of enunciation in that sentence, so I'm taking a shot)helped us realize ourselves, an American named Fred Ross Jr. (I read her biography, and apparently he was Chavez's mentor in CSO).* The rest of the names she mentions will be familiar to Americans*.

Q: What counsel would you offer to a young LGBT person of Hispanic background living in the U.S.?

A: To try to form friendships, not only of people from the same community. *It seems she is stating the importance of networking with other communities for support, to form alliances*

Q: What differences are there between men and women, each one's battle for their rights?

A: Women tend to have it tougher, thanks to machismo, so they have to insist more that their rights be respected. Sometimes it is a little hard for men. But if we don't make that effort, if we don't fight, nothing will change.

Q: What do you think of the new Equal Pay Act?

A: It's marvelous. It pleases me that he has made a lot of changes in his first week, and we hope that he will continue with that conviction.

Q: What would you counsel the Latino community to do in order to fight the pervasive homophobia in it?

A: A lot. A lot. What we know is that our people always have a good heart. The thing is, we're asking them to go against what the priests say and religion and all that. But we have to also present them with the Catholic Church's history, don't you think? Because they have made many mistakes across the years and still continues make them as well. And it is with women's right to control their reproductive process and the right of homosexuals to legally marry that the church has to change. We have some changes to make, and people have to understand it; that, yes, we can be religious and love God; but we have to-- and I will borrow the words of Desmond Tutu, a South African bishop who was presented with a question concerning homosexuals-- "God was there before Christianity. He was there before Christians, Muslims, Jews, God was there before all of them. God was there before religion, and God asks for justice for all men."

Q: Do you think we can beat homophobia?

A: Yes, there's just a lot of work to be done. You have to educate people; it's like with machismo. We have to educate people to see how machismo is damaging, and how homophobia is damaging as well.

We are limiting the contribution of people who have so much to give to our community. Furthermore, we are causing harm to our youth by making them feel inferior, or that they feel that they are not like other people. This is immense cruelty that we are bringing to our young men and women.

"Q": So we can.

A: Yes, but with a lot of work. Organizing, organizing, organizing.

The interview was a sweet thing to do to Daniel. I suppose it's a gesture to reassure him. However, many of the questions were not only redundant, but the answers that you would get from Dolores would be obvious. I suppose these were merely questions to put her on the record, to confirm what many already suspected?

Thanks Lucrece! I was hoping you'd do the translation for us. I remember when you did it for Daniel's video the first time!

Her name is Dolores, not Delores.

That is just plain embarrassing. My only excuse is that I set the video to upload while I grabbed a couple hours of sleep, ran to another event first thing this morning and then pounded the post out in between sessions. I should definitely have been more careful. I'm going in to fix it now.

...many of the questions were not only redundant, but the answers that you would get from Dolores would be obvious. I suppose these were merely questions to put her on the record, to confirm what many already suspected?

As I look through the questions, only one of them was my original question. The others came from Daniel or Pedro. Neither of them do interviews regularly and poor Daniel only had minutes to think of his questions. Honestly, I don't think he was considering putting her "on the record" so much as just things he wanted to know.

Yeah, I do acknowledge here that the emotional value of being addressed by Dolores is what's important for Daniel here, not how incisive the questions might be. Still, it's always uplifting to hear support confirmed by those we admire.

I also did the interview conveying most of the conversation; but as you can see, I skipped through parts like the rest of the names of the models and some of her speech patterns since either English speakers would understand the names, or the speech patterns in Spanish would seem awkward if I translated them literally to English. In my defense, I was being tormented by the black hole that forms in my brain whenever doing integral calculus while doing the translation, so I chose the less nuanced version of translation.

No matter what, Lucrece, I appreciate it. Thanks for being part of the process so I could understand it too.

*bows to you*

The extra bit I didn't have time to add was that I sat with Dolores for a while at breakfast this morning where we talked about sending Daniel to some training on being a community organizer for the Indy Hispanic community. :) We'll see how it works out, but I'll keep folks updated.

hola memo he visto el video estoy atonico loco y no se que decir es increibe, trato de escribir en ingles pero nada me sale es fabuloso y soy un loco encerrado en mi, tratando de decifrar el momento de la realidad, dejando de pensar que solo es un sueno hecho realidad gracias memo

Es nada, Daniel. Te quiere, mi novio.

buenos tiempos gracias por todo memo