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Recently, there has been an increase in organic food recognition for the absence of deadly synthetic pesticides in its growth process. However, through the 1900s, the farming industry consistently increased the usage of pesticides. This was due to the farming industry, and the state government’s agenda to increase annual crop yield, and thus to make more money. In response to these selfish actions, Cesar Chavez, along with many Californian farmers and workers, established the National Farm Workers Association to strike against the grape farmers.
Although the movement was successful, many farms still used pesticides on farms. Chavez replied with his “The Wrath of Grapes Boycott” speech that inspired many and started the “Wrath of Grapes” movement. In this influential speech, Chavez urges his audience of consumers to join his movement to terminate the use of deadly pesticides as it jeopardizes the health and safety of everybody.
By directly mentioning his audience of consumers in his speech, Chavez implies that it is everybody’s responsibility to unite and extinguish this nationwide issue.
Chavez does so with repeating words such as “us” and“family” throughout his speech when addressing his audience. For example, when indicating that pesticides are a threat to both the consumers and the farmers, Chavez states that he “[sees] us as one family”. By referring to the farmers, including himself, as well as the consumers as a family, he introduces the idea that they are all on the same ship and are obligated to take action. Another example of this can be found when Chavez urges the audience to “stand as a family” because this is a “battle that none of us can afford to lose”.
Although forceful, he suggests that the audience is already involved in this battle, and they would need to unite with the farmers to win. Similarly, when closing out his request, Chavez assures his audience that if they want to make an impact, “consumers and farm workers must stand together as one family”. He demonstrates that everyone has to pull their weight and allows the audience to feel the need to cooperate in order for everyone to succeed.
To make his argument more persuasive, Chavez demonstrates to his audience that the negative effects of pesticide are serious and can affect everybody by citing credible sources. When discussing the negative impacts of pesticide, he refers to how the EPA declared pesticides as its most urgent problem and that “virtually everyone is exposed to pesticide” in a New York Times article. By mentioning credible source like The New York Times along with The EPA, he makes his request of joining his movement against pesticide more persuasive as he proves the harmful effects of pesticide are not solely his and the farm worker’s observation. He quotes the EPA once more when he informs how pesticide residue is already in food products, pesticide chemicals can cause cancer, and many farm workers are suffering from illnesses due to contamination of underground water supplies. Like the previous example, Chavez establishes his credibility by citing a reliable government agency like The EPA, and therefore making his points more convincing. Finally, Chavez also states the effect of pesticide on consumers with credible sources. Chavez claims that in The New York Times and national television reported that nearly 1,000 consumers became ill after eating watermelons that were applied with insecticide. By mentioning a popular newspaper that everyone can recognize like The New York Times, Chavez allows his audience to believe that pesticide usage is a serious issue and he is fighting for a cause that everybody should join.
Through the use of personal anecdotes, Chavez stimulates a sense of sympathy and urgency from his audience by indicating that many people have already been tormented by pesticides. For instance, he identifies a series of tragedies that he “personally learn of daily”. During this sequence, Chavez employs the use of anaphora by starting off each personal example with “what” or “how”. With this continuation of a certain structure, he builds an overwhelming amount of emotion among the audience as they become more receptive to the sympathetic emotion when repeated. At the same time, Chavez also presents the gravity of the situation with imagery. He goes in depth to describe horrifying incidents such as how a man’s dead body was “dumped by the growers 45 miles away”, how an irrigator’s right hand was “amputated due to recurrent infection” by herbicides, and how 9 children’s “only source of water was polluted with pesticides”. These specific details allow his audience to picture the frightening effects of pesticide has on consumer life, which creates a sense of urgency that demands them to act. These examples of personal experiences help Chavez convince the audience that if they do not join now, more of the same deadly events can follow.
The Wrath of Grapes Boycott speech had an immense impact on the entire country as it was the catalyst of many progressive changes. Farm owners granted higher wage and better working conditions for their workers. Over the years, extremely deadly pesticides have also been banned from agricultural use. Today, the former National Farm Workers union that led the boycott also became Cezar Chavez foundation, which continues to help working families. This just shows that we should not take the rights we have as workers, and the safe lives we have as people for granted because these are all fruits of labor.
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