‘Stay tuned to us’: California radio providing Indigenous farmworkers with vital pandemic knowledge

‘Stay tuned to us’: California radio providing Indigenous farmworkers with vital pandemic knowledge

The solution to reaching Indigenous farm workers in the U.S. who are unable to fully access novel coronavirus pandemic information due to language barrier issues may start as simply as turning on the radio. 

CNN reports that a pair of radio hosts in California have used their show to help educate Indigenous migrants who make up part of the state’s farmworkers about the pandemic. Radio Indígena 94.1 FM hosts Bernardino Almazán and Francisco Didier Ulloa can do this “thanks to their ability to switch between Spanish, Mixteco and other indigenous languages.”

Latinos, particularly those working as essential workers, have been hard-hit by the virus. The COVID-19 Farmworker Study conducted by the California Institute for Rural Studies earlier this year found “that farmworkers are contracting the virus at much higher rates than people in any other occupation,” nonprofit environmental journalism organization InsideClimate News said in July.

“The CIRS has found that in Monterey County, farmworkers are three times more likely to contract the coronavirus than the general population,” the report said. “Farm hubs have the highest rates of Covid-19 in the state, and Latinx patients comprise the majority of cases in those hot spots.” 

But Indigenous people may be even more vulnerable, with Almazán, himself a former agricultural worker, saying that even just trying to explain what the pandemic is can be difficult. “The Mixteco language, he says, dates back at least 2,000 years and does not include modern medical terminology,” the report continues. But this is where Almazán and cohost Didier Ulloa see themselves as bridging the gap. 

“Currently, the station broadcasts 40 hours of original shows in Spanish and the indigenous languages of Mixteco, Zapoteco and Purépecha,” CNN reports. “They focus on a variety of topics, including immigrant rights, domestic violence prevention and indigenous history,” reaching thousands of people each day.

During one recent show, the hosts welcomed to the studio a doctor to share vital information about the virus. “I invite you to stay with us because in the studio we have Dr. José Navarro, who has all updated information about COVID-19 and the current health alerts,” Almazán said on-air. “He will also tell us about a coronavirus vaccine that could soon be ready. So stay tuned to us here on Radio Indígena 94.1 FM.”

While farmworker advocates have urged that agricultural laborers be prioritized for the vaccine alongside healthcare workers, research has shown that a history of racist medical abuse and a mistrust of government is leading some Latinos to be anxious about taking it. Then add in language barrier issues. But this is where entities like Radio Indígena can come into play. 

“As farm workers on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus keep America fed even as they are infected with COVID-19 at alarming levels, it is imperative field laborers be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines,” UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres said. “Farm workers must be prioritized and also have access to factual, scientific information about vaccines in the languages and indigenous dialects they speak.”

And what’s just as important is that the information is coming from trusted sources. Cervantes Alvarado, a cranberry picker in the state, told CNN that Radio Indígena does more than provide entertainment. “I used to feel ashamed of speaking Mixteco,” he said in the report. “Whenever I listen to (the radio), I feel proud of who I am and don’t want my children to forget that.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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