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For Mexico, ‘Roma’ is a dark reminder that racial, class issues remain

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: Feb. 22, 2019

Mary Morales, wearing her domestic garb, left the fruit market here, wobbling as she carried plastic bags filled with mangos, papayas and a head full of questions. She had watched the movie Roma and it hit too close to home.

“Not much has changed, has it?” said Morales, 60, who cleans homes and cares for two children, a dog and two cats in the same neighborhood where the movie is based in, Colonia Roma. “I loved the movie, but nothing surprised me. Were you surprised?”

The black-and-white Netflix movie set in the 1970s has garnered ten Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture. Yalitza Aparicio has already made history as the first indigenous woman nominated for Best Actress for her role as Cleo, a young woman of Mixteco heritage working as a live-in maid for a troubled upper-middle-class family.

Among those watching the ceremony will be domestic workers on both sides of the border and in North Texas, where the employment of Mexican housekeepers has become more pronounced as more major Mexican companies have begun doing business in the region.

“In Dallas, we see that many families increasingly count on domestic help,” said Luisa del Rosal, executive director of Texas-Mexico Center at SMU. “The workers tend to be of Hispanic heritage, from Mexico and Latin America.”

Here in Mexico City’s chic, hipster neighborhood of La Roma, the movie exposes the underlying dark issues of Mexican race, culture, class and political upheaval. It exposes the plight of the poor, particularly female domestic workers, and how they tenuously coexist in what some call Mexico’s caste system. The movie is based on director’s Alfonso Cuaron’s life and upbringing in Colonia Roma. READ MORE