OC Weekly Cover Story - They Pick What You Eat

I started my immigrant photography project as a response to the negative statements made by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump about Mexicans. I was so upset to hear him make such hateful comments that I wanted to do something about it.

Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico. I grew up working alongside many Mexican immigrants in the families business. Working in the hospitality industry at a young age gave me a unique perspective: They are often discriminated against, disrespected and very much under-appreciated. So I started taking photos.

My original idea with this project was to send a political message without attacking anyone. I chose to take this approach to increase the reach of my message. I do believe this has worked, and I am happy to hear positive feedback from my photos and posts.

Then Charlottesville happened, followed by an anti-immigration rally in Laguna Beach. These hate groups made me realize that my project was even more important than I had first imagined.

My goal is to open some eyes. My hope is that when people see my photographs, they might be inspired to leave an extra-nice tip on their pillow for Guadalupe in housekeeping; say, "¡Gracias!" to Jose, who is cleaning their table or Felipe in the kitchen, making their food; or to simply smile at Graciela, who is sweeping the floors at John Wayne Airport. It's empathy—and the world could use more of it right now.

- Javier Castellanos

 

View the photo essay at OC Weekly