Episode 22 – Agent Orange and the Delano Grape Strike

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This week we’re focusing on two Asian activists fighting for justice. Although Biden may call racism “un-American” in his response to the Atlanta shooting, the reality is much different. Elise tells the story of Tran To Nga, a French-Vietnamese journalist sprayed with toxic Agent Orange by the American military’s Operation Ranch Hand during the Vietnam War. Her case against over a dozen chemical companies will reach a decision in May–show your support through the hashtags below. Then, Olivia tells the lesser-known, Filipino-led side of the iconic Delano Grape Strike that revolutionized farmworker’s rights in the United States, including leader Larry Itliong who worked alongside Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. We also discuss birthday cakes, new books, and Youtube scavenger hunts.

**CW: This episode discusses racism, anti-asian hate, and chemical warfare.

Use the hashtags #trantonga, #justicepourtrantonga, and #justicefortrantonga to spread the word. More resources below.

It was Olivia’s birthday this week! To celebrate, here’s the famous sprinkle cake from her birthday last year (her first quarantine birthday):

This is what we mean when we say “cake with sprinkles.”

Olivia also treated yourself to some vegan cheese from Riverdel in Essex Market, if you’re in NYC and want to try out some yummy options!

Story #1: Tran To Nga (Elise)
Tran To Nga during a rally to call for justice for Agent Orange victims in Paris, 2019. Caption VN Express, Photo by Collectif Vietnam Dioxine.

French-Vietnam woman in ‘fight of her life’ on war chemicals, The Connexion, Jan 2021
Justice for Tran To Nga, Humanity In Action, Jan 2021
Activists back French-Vietnamese woman’s Agent Orange case, ABC News, Jan 2021
Vietnam War: French court to hear landmark Agent Orange case, BBC, Jan 2021
Agent Orange trial made headlines in France, Hanoi Times, Jan 2021
Agent Orange: story of an American war crime in Vietnam tried 55 years later in France, L’humanite, Jan 2021
Agent Orange. “A symbolic and historical process”, L’humanite, Jan 2021
Vietnam Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Co Wanted!, L’humanite, Feb 2003
Dow Chemical arrested on Agent Orange, L’humanite, March 2007
Vietnam. “A historic trial” for Tran To Nga and all the victims of Agent Orange, L’humanite, Oct 2020
Agent Orange. A fight for justice and the environment, L’humanite, Sept 2020
Activists Rally Behind French-Vietnamese Woman’s Agent Orange Lawsuit, VOA, Jan 2021
Agent Orange Won’t Go Away—in Vietnam, or the Courts, Esquire, Jan 2021
Ms. Tran To Nga: ‘I feel I have won’, Tuoi Tre, Jan 2021
Tran To Nga’s trial for justice began in France, Tuoi Tre, Jan 2021
Chemical firms on trial in France over Agent Orange use in Vietnam War, France 24, Jan 2021
The long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S., Washington Post, March 2021
Monsanto Wikipedia
Ecocide Wikipedia

I didn’t focus on Laos for this story, but if you’re interested this topic, New York Times has an interesting article talking about the effects of Operation Ranch Hand there.

There was an interesting article from TIME that discussed the possibility of an international law on ecocide adjudicated by the ICC which if implemented could also have interesting implications for Tran To Nga’s case. You can read it HERE if you’d like to learn more.

Story #2: Larry Itliong and the Filipino leadership of the Delano Grape Strike (Olivia)
Larry Itliong (left, holding AWOC sign) and Cesar Chavez (second from right, plaid) walking with fellow strikers. “Huelga” = strike in Spanish. Via UFW.org

Delano Manongs: The Forgotten Heroes of the Delano Farmworkers Movement by PBS
The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott by Inga Kim for UFW.org
How Cesar Chavez Joined Larry Itliong to Demand Farm Workers’ Rights by Adam Janos on History.com
California Farmworkers Who Sparked A Rebellion For Farmworkers’ Rights by Al Jazeera
The Complete History of the Famed Delano Grape Strike by Ariel Aberg-Riger for Teen Vogue
The Delano Grape Strike & Boycott by Stuff You Missed in History Class
The Nature of California: Race, Citizenship, and Farming since the Dust Bowl by University of Washington Press
Delano grape strike and Larry Itliong on Wikipedia

Further Reading
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN4EJ)
PBS mini docs and series on Asian Americans
PRESENT AND PASSIONATE: A Critical Analysis of Asian American Involvement in The United States Environmental Justice Movement by Emily M Ng
Asian American and Pacific Islander Environmentalism: Expansions, Connections, and Social Change by Julie Sze, Paul M. Ong, and Charles Lee
An Asian American Lens on Environmental Justice by Nancy Chen
Through the Eyes of a Grassroots Leader: How the Asian American Community Reclaims Its Voice in Environmental Justice by Brooke Zhang for EarthJustice

We really need to do a whole series on Reagan, how he ushered in the current era of conservative politics (Donald Trump stole his famous MAGA slogan directly from Reagan), and how that all affected the environment! But for now, check out this Showtime documentary called The Reagans.

The Dump

Olivia bought herself two books for her birthday: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Beloved Beasts by Michelle Nijhuis from Greenlight Bookstore! If you’ve read either and have thoughts, let us know.

If you want to listen to any of the books we mention and still want to support your favorite local bookstore, check out libro.fm. If you use our referral link here, we’ll get a credit for an audiobook which will most likely go towards research for this podcast!

Check out Broccoli Bar if you’re looking for a good vegan spot in Brooklyn. (Greenlight is across the street!) Olivia recommends the reuben. Let us know if you try a new vegan meal or spot in your area, we’d love to hear what you’re finding.

We really could not stop talking about food this episode, so also try out Minimalist Baker’s Kale & White Bean Artichoke Dip or Nora Cook’s Spinach Artichoke Dip if you’re in the mood for a delicious vegan snack.

Elise couldn’t stop thinking about making a vegan BLT, and so it inevitably turned into a TikTok, which you can watch here if you need some vegan inspo!

And finally, if you’re ever passing through New Haven, Elise highly recommends stopping at Claire’s Corner Copia. Their BLT is to die for and they have a very extensive menu, so there’s truly something for everyone!

Anthropocene Reviewed – the podcast where the author and YouTuber John Green reviews things like Sycamore Trees, Canada Geese, and Indianapolis. It’s a very wholesome, thought provoking, and calming listen. You can pre-order the signed book adaptation of the podcast here.

The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

You can keep up with us on Twitter and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this episode, considering reviewing us on Apple Podcasts and downloading/subscribing/following wherever you like to do those things. It helps us immensely.

Thanks for listening!

Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II World Is Burning

Can you believe we've gone 2 1/2 years without creating our very own game show about us? Neither can we! Test your climate knowledge alongside us as we ask ourselves the burning questions: Where are tumbleweeds from? What are our favorite climate activists' favorite insects? and How do you do fractions again? Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter or @worldisburning on TikTok, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 74 – Burning Questions Part II
  2. Ep 73 – Burning Questions
  3. Ep. 72 – It’s A Joke Until It’s Not – the Overton Window and AI
  4. Ep. 71 – Oil Spills – Deepwater Horizon and Dawn Dish Soap
  5. Ep. 70 – Deep Sea Explorers – Jacques Cousteau & Dr. Sylvia Earle