Mark Ramon

As Interviewed by Sofia Ramon, March 17, 2018

Mark Ramon: In His Own Words

Racism, discrimination, itís not a black or a white or a brown thing -- itís really just about any group feeling confused or worried about something new, and I saw that a lot growing up.

He talked about some of the places where he remembered feeling discriminated against.

Another place that was really surprising to me growing up and was especially hurtful was: being a Mexican-American, youíre kind of caught between two countries; there are people here in the United States who really donít care for anybody thatís Hispanic or Mexican, so you kind of feel unwanted sometimes here but then when you go to Mexico itís different also. If you don't live in Mexico, youíre a Mexican-American, youíre a pocho, or there are different words for you, youíre not a real Mexican like them. And it was really a weird situation, and it was kind of hurtful because youíre made to feel less than on either side of the border. But there are also some sources of pride. I think itís an honor when people do things that celebrate Hispanic things and want to do things that Hispanics do, and itís a source of pride for me. And then, by the same token, I havenít been to Mexico in years but for all the jokes I had about not being really Mexican, all my cousins were incredibly interested in everything we were doing over here and wanted me to teach them the words to Bruce Springsteen songs and whatever was popular at the time.

I asked his thoughts on how racism has changed since his childhood.

I think the conversation is at the forefront now, in society. Thereís still obviously a lot of work to be done and a lot of overt and blatant racism -- and then something thatís probably as damaging or more and thatís the institutional racism that isnít as obvious, that keeps people down and sneaks by for years, and people don't realize it. And it damages generations, but I think the state that weíre at now is promising because now there are conversations about these things whereas before that wasnít the case and people could easily dismiss being called a racist by saying ďYouíre crazy! I have a black friendĒ or something crazy like that. But now I think itís been part of our conversation for so long that I think even people who would deny it might be able to kind of, in private moments, think and do some examining of their own lives and try to get to a real view on their own thoughts and feelings. I feel when I came up here I think most people would consider themselves not racist. And I am one of those, but I can honestly say when I came up here and started seeing other people, I had some tendencies and I was saying things that I shouldnít have said. I would say for the most part I didnít feel like I was being malicious, but it doesnít matter: itís as hurtful. And I feel like I went through a process a lot earlier than some people are to realize there are some problems with me that need to be fixed, so I think to your question thereís a lot of work to be done but now itís not taboo to talk about these things and itís not crazy to take a moment to examine yourself and your thoughts. Itís promising and I don't know if weíre going to get where we need to be anytime soon but being able to have those discussions is a big step.