Empty Plate - Anthony “Joker” Orosco

Anthony “Joker” Orosco, 20, is a Chicano poet born and raised in Stockton, California. Anthony was 14 when he first started writing. “Poetry gave me clarity,” says Anthony, “[it] helped me to view everything with a different kind of perspective, helped me to see the beauty hidden within everything society says could never be beautiful, made me appreciate the smaller things we as human beings usually take for granted.” Anthony has been writing and performing with With Our Words for about five years and when he participated in The Bigger Picture workshop, he was very clear about the purpose of his piece. “My inspiration for writing my Bigger Picture piece came from the needing and wanting to tell the hidden stories of my people, the story a lot of my elders had been a part of.” In “Empty Plate” he addresses the poverty that afflicts migrant families and the silent fact that farmers who harvest the produce that are arranged into pyramids of health at Whole Foods or other markets don’t earn enough of a wage to afford the food themselves:

Abuelas y Abuelos, tias, tios, primos y carnales
Who picked processed and packed produce
Their pockets couldn’t afford to begin with.
Backs breaking bones aching
Harvesting healthy fruits and veggies
Acre by acre,
The bounty of California’s breadbasket
That almost never blessed the tables of farmero families,

He calls out the food deserts of the South Side of Stockton California:

Today it’s practically multiple choice,
Being murdered or choosing death by diet,
A decision between
8 spots 3 blocks apart

Anthony says his inspiration was “to be able to show the world the mistreatment [my elders] endured working and fighting their damnedest in the hopes of giving their families a better life. [They endured] the absolute worse this country has to offer to give the next generation of Beautiful Brown kids a better foundation to grow from. That story needs to be told and I felt I should be the one to tell it.”