Making Out During the Debate

I’m hanging out with my buddy Denise, watching the Democratic candidate debate that she recorded earlier. I haven’t had network TV at home for around five years, so this is the best way I can watch it. But man, it’s hard to watch!

All the tough issues . . . laying the truth bare to illustrate the extent of the suffering . . . wrestling with which solutions might be best. Health care, gun violence, racism, mass incarceration. I root for … and groan for … pretty much all of these candidates!

The better part of my day today was spent doing a new podcast for POP! Talk, on Radio Jornalera, along with my co-host Rabbi Marv Gross, interviewing Luis Valentan and Manuel Vicente, the co-directors of the Pasadena Job Center and the manifesters and seed-planters behind Day Laborer Radio, the exciting new broadcasting outlet of the 21st century. In this podcast, we hear the story behind it.

There were so many good parts to this interview, including how their immigration stories from Mexico vary by social location, one through the hardest way to get here, one through middle class entree. Luis, who arrived in Southern California in the 1990’s when he was 17 after a trek in the desert with his cousin, first got by as a garment worker in LA. Fast forward a few decades when he realized a radio program for day laborers would be powerful, because he was invited by KPFK to host a show once a month.

Manuel, after emigrating in 2014, wanted to volunteer for NDLON, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and just so happened to have studied media at university and knew how to set up a radio station. It was perfect timing, and long story short, they are the architects of Radio Jornalera! Almost all the shows are in Spanish, and POP! Talk is currently their only show in English. They are about to almost double their show schedule! People listen from all over the world.

I also love the music I played for the show, Calexico, the synergistic, border band, and my favorite track Convict Pool, a haunting and beautiful song about being on the run . . . hunted, and surveilled.

So yeah, I’ve been typing this blog and half-listening to this long-ass debate, all those strident talking heads . . . and now they’re talking about El Paso, which again, NDLON and their partner organizations, did more to empower in the past week than any candidate on that stage. Check out #ElPasoFirme, about standing up to white supremacy by creating a festival of fierce pride and cultural resistance in El Paso, 3,000 people strong, with supporters as from far away as Seattle . . . just this past Saturday.

It was an honor to interview and hear Luis’ and Manuel’s stories, and understand the extent of all the good work they do.

I stand proudly with my brown brothers, as immigrant, as American, as any of us.

Rev. Hannah