The Backbone of Social Justice

To the Bone pushes for justice and empathy within SCU for those too often unseen and unheard.

The Backbone of Social Justice

The invisible force that puts food on our tables finally gets credit in the play To the Bone about migrant farm workers. Staged this spring by SCU Presents, the play follows the lives of five Central American women and their journeys migrating to the U.S. Each vignette explores the various inequalities, injustices, and difficulties contemporary migrant workers face, from their thankless work at a chicken processing plant to their fears of deportation.

Just as art imitates life, To the Bone was inspired by real testimonies from actual Central American immigrant poultry plant employees. As part of the event at Santa Clara, playwright Lisa Ramirez and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta discussed contemporary art and activism with director Karina Gutiérrez, an assistant professor of theater. Ramirez talked about how acting and writing help her funnel her feelings of frustration over the world’s injustices into work promoting equality. In her writing, Ramirez wants to shine a spotlight on the heroic journey of the working class that has been a constant influence in her life.

“If I’m at a fancy party, I’m more interested in writing about the people working in the kitchens and their lives than the fancy people not even noticing the work that goes into [it all],” Ramirez said. “So it’s an act of rebellion for me and storytelling is a way to level the playing field and start conversations.”

This was the second trip to SCU for Huerta, who worked with Cesar Chavez in the 1970s in California’s farmworkers movement. She first spoke in Fall 2020 for a speaker series on race and driving transformative social change. Huerta’s tireless spirit is lauded at Santa Clara, where students are encouraged to learn and create a more humane, just, and sustainable world.

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