There’s a movie that captures, for Roman Ramos, the racism that Mexican workers in Texas encountered during the 40s and 50s. “Giant”, George Stevens’ sprawling 1956 epic about a wealthy Texas rancher starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, contains harshly accurate depictions of the contempt that many white Americans exhibited towards their Mexican and Mexican-American neighbors. The film was “pretty symbolic” of his own experience with white people at the time he was growing up. “It really displayed the disparities that existed. To our interns at TRLA [Texas RioGrande Legal Aid], I always recommend they watch that movie.”
Mr Ramos has worked as a paralegal for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. for over 30 years. There are few farmworker advocates who have the breadth and depth of on-the-ground experience with farmworkers that he has. He grew up in a family that worked in agriculture and he knows from first-hand experience the triple obstacles of racism, xenophobia and invisibility that many farmworkers face. He has done outreach in nearly every state in the country, visiting workers and following up with individual clients/witnesses. His work often takes him to Mexico to interview guestworkers after they return home.
I asked Mr Ramos about some of his early experiences growing up and how he came to be a farmworker advocate.
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