Richard Rodriguez (born 31 July 1944) is a Mexican-American writer who became famous for his 1981 book, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (ISBN 0-553-27293-4), a narrative about his development as a literate, American student. (full text).
He says: ”Bilingual-education advocates say it’s important to teach a child in his or her family’s language. I say you can’t use family language in the classroom — the very nature of the classroom requires that you use language publicly. When the Irish nun said to me, “Speak your name loud and clear so that all the boys and girls can hear you,” she was asking me to use language publicly, with strangers. That’s the appropriate instruction for a teacher to give. If she were to say to me, “We are going to speak now in Spanish, just like you do at home. You can whisper anything you want to me, and I am going to call you by a nickname, just like your mother does,” that would be inappropriate. Intimacy is not what classrooms are about”. (full text).
The Browning of America is a phrase coined by Rodriguez to describe an increase in the mixing of cultural, racial, and ethnic identities in the United States during the late 20th and early 21st century. (full text).
Richard Rodriguez – USA
Richard Rodriguez is a contributing editor at New America Media in San Francisco. He writes regularly for several newspapers and magazines, both in the United States and in England. He has also written an autobiographical trilogy on class, ethnicity and race: “Hunger of Memory” (1982) “Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father,” (1992) and “Brown: The Last Discovery of America” (2002). He is currently working on a book concerned with the ecology of the desert and monotheism. (full text).
He says also: “As it applies to me, I find it curious. I think of myself as left of center. I’m horrified that the left in America is as intolerant as it is these days. The level of incivility among people who are otherwise engaged in discussion of ideas also is surprising to me”. (full interview).
Receiving 2003 the Melcher Book Award, listen to his speech, by the audio, 1 hour 26 minutes,
by the video, 1 hour 27 minutes.
And he says: “I ask you to just look at me. I come from another part of the world. I come from South of the border. My parents are Mexican immigrants and this is who I am. This man who has an Indian face and a Spanish surname and an Anglo first name, Richard, who carries the voice that was given to me, shoved down my throat actually by Irish nuns, who taught me unsentimentally, the Queen’s English. You should wonder about the complexity that creates Richard Rodriguez, the centuries that have made this complexity. I am not, in any simple sense, the creature of multiculturalism. I am the creature of something much more radical and that’s the penetration of one culture by another, one race by another. And so I stand here today, and I don’t know which part is the Indian part speaking to you. Which leg is my Indian leg? Which leg is my Spanish leg?” (full text).
While the book received widespread critical acclaim and won several literary awards, it also stirred resentment because of Rodriguez’s strong stands against bilingual education and affirmative action. Some Mexican Americans called him pocho — traitor — accusing him of betraying himself and his people. Others called him a “coconut” — brown on the outside, white on the inside. He calls himself “a comic victim of two cultures.” Rodriguez explored the dilemmas of ethnicity and cultural identity more directly in his second book, Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father. “The best metaphor of America remains the dreadful metaphor [of] the Melting Pot,” he wrote. The America that he described is a new cross-fertilizing culture, a culture of half-breeds, blurred boundaries, and bizarre extremes. Rodriguez has been compared with such literary figures as Albert Camus and James Baldwin. He is an editor for the Pacific News Service in San Francisco and a contributing editor of Harper’s and the Sunday “Opinion” section of the Los Angeles Times. His essays also appear on public television’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. (full text).
Last but not least he says: “Indeed, illegal immigrants, who were supposed to live a shadowy existence, belong to neighborhoods and to church congregations that were willing to stand alongside them. And most important: Many millions of illegal immigrants have U.S. relatives, sons and daughters, in-laws, cousins, grandchildren. That family tie is the lesson of these parades. (full text).