In memory of Jessie Medina Hernandez, a woman who resisted……in your face Columbus!
*Note: Permission has been given by all of Jessie’s surviving children to post this blog online.
When I think of Columbus day, or shall I now say Indigenous People’s Day, many images come to mind of strong proud warriors fighting the good fight to resist colonization and the powers that feel the need to build empire across the precious earth we call our mother. For this blog post I want to write about my true mother. The one human being who birthed me from her womb and fought hard and strong to keep her family together, amidst living among a chaotic system of imperialistic vampires.
Well my mother Jessie was born in the 3rd of July in Manteca California. Her parents were both migrant farm workers. Jessie herself was a farm worker for many years and once had special recognition thorough CSU Fresno’s History Department which hosted an oral history project about her life as a farm worker.
Like many Indigenous people of this land, Jessie had dreams to attain a
good life, working wage, home, and live a long healthy life. She believed in
the American Dream.
|Jessie's early years as a farm worker was showcased at CSU Fresno|
Her fate at the age of 67 is one that sadly for all of us ends in death, however she gave life a total of 5 times which included me and my siblings. Jessie held strong to the spirit of family and friends. In her time as a mother, she maintained a sometimes happy but stable home for all her kids. In fact she always opened her home to many people in need.
She did her best to support each of her children to become healthy vibrant adults, which included grandchildren and great grandchildren. Most of all she loved dearly her nieces and nephews, always willing to be of support to them too. Lastly, there were other folks that my mother picked up along the way and ALWAYS treated them as her own children. You could say that Jessie had a very sacred gift when it came to love, for it was unconditional.
And since this blog is about explaining how my mom resisted, a fondest memory that comes to mind is when I was in college. For anyone who knows my past, I was sick and tired of the CSU system continuously raising student tuition in order for me to get a college education. An education that was promised to so many in the past yet for some reason not as much now that CSUs are more populated with Indigenous people from across the world.
I was part of a student movement that had planned to take over the Fresno State library to conduct a 24 hour occupation and risk being arrested in order to make a final statement to the state legislature, our elected officials that education is a right. One night I came home to tell my mom and my grandma was sitting next to her. I told my mom that the plan was to get the State to fund the CSU and create enough momentum that a moratorium can be placed for 5 years to stop the fee increase. Eventually our efforts worked, and that is not to say that it was our sole action, but the collective action of many people across California. Jessie was one of those persons who made a difference. I remember my mom saying she would be willing to stand at the entrance of the library as a parent of a student who demands educational investment since she is a taxpayer and worked hard in this country. My grandmother even said she will be there too! The day we took over the Fresno State Library (http://collegian.csufresno.edu/2009/11/23/protesters-spend-night-in-madden-library/ my mom was one of the first parents on the scene, and one of the last to sit outside amidst some rain too! Click HERE to see a cute and short clip on Jessie standing as a human barricade at the Fresno State Library.If link is broken go to https://vimeo.com/237859782
That day is when I saw my mother stand up and resist. Not for her son or a few students but for all those young people who strive for higher education. On this so called Columbus day, I want to thank you Jessie Medina Hernandez for being the resistance and for the memories you instilled in me and my other siblings. Thanks for not giving up and leaving us in times of struggle. I will see you when my time comes, but for now I promise to keep up the fight for all our people and those yet to be born. I hope to make you proud so that my spirit can meet you in the heavens without shame!
A disaster more important than Harvey and Irma combined?
It has always struck me as sickening that in this country, we have a few elite families that pretty much govern us and make major decisions that affect our lives. One of those decisions that are constantly made for us is how we get access to health care. Now if you feel disrespected by what I’m about to say I could care less. But if you are willing to read on and digest what I think is the worst hurricane that has hit our country time and time again, then continue reading. This past summer many folks were in awe about how both hurricane Harvey and Irma was impacting so many people, and rightfully so. And then there is our stupid president and politicians. A hurricane can hit in one sweeping moment, and kill a small handful of people in its path and every major congressman and senator in Washington DC cares so much about the pain it will bring even going as far as passing a budget for relief (http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/house-votes-harvey-aid/index.html). That’s wonderful. Now stop and think about it for a minute……what about CANCER?
When I think of a hurricane and all the attention it gets, hell even gun control and terrorism which only kills small handfuls of people (NO disrespect to any one who’s life was lost) I think of cancer. Losing my mom to cancer is just one gust of wind among the many other gusts that exist in the gigantic storm of people who suffer and die to cancer all because our system is broken. Good healthcare I argue for many like my mother is inaccessible at some levels. And let’s remember that cancer is proven to be a bodily response on many instances, to the way the human DNA tries to resist exposure to toxic chemicals. Cancer causing pathogens are proven to exist in many products we consume or are exposed to on a regular basis. How do these cancer causing toxic products get to us? Well because our politicians allow it to happen, such as allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to be underfunded or dismantled, or in a case like the Dakota Access Pipeline, Flint Michigan water crisis etc., corporations are allowed to get away with creating the largest “hurricane” of deaths due to exposure to cancer causing agents. Cancer takes the lives of thousands of people on an annual basis, yet doesn’t get the sweeping attention the way a normal “hurricane” does.
|Jessie's written messages - very legible to her family members|