Friday, March 18, 2011
People With No Names - The Undocumented #74
This is a 30" x 40" oil on canvas. The title is "Trouble Doing Homework". The little girl in the back on the left is having trouble doing her homework, because so many people live in her family's cramped quarters, and she has no private space. She is lucky though, because her third grade teacher, "Mr. Ramos, grew up, one of eight children 'following the lettuce' too. Home was a farm labor camp near Salinas and he has traveled far. The camps---a setting for John Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath"---were the subject of his undergraduate thesis at the University of California, Berkeley. In his classroom, he has built an altar of sorts: a collection of Berkeley memorabilia, crowned with the inspiring message "Class of 2024". "But even for the most determined students here, poverty and college do not mix", states the article in the Sunday, March 13, 2011 New York Times. And yet...Oscar Ramos is a potent, everyday reminder to his classroom of migrant children (and their parents) that an education is possible, that the ability to settle down and stay in one place is possible.