Race and Richard Rodriguez

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140 Chapter 4 Definition “Blaxicans” and Other Reinvented Americans Richard Rodriguez The son of immigrant Mexican parents in San Francisco, Richard Rodriguez (b. 1944) grew up in a Mexican American section of Sacramento. He was educated in Catholic grammar and high schools, and he attended Stanford and Columbia universities, where he took a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, as well as the Warburg Institute in Great Britain. He is the winner of a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Peabody Award, which recognizes outstanding work in the electronic media. Rodriguez achieved recognition in 1981, when he published Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. The book includes a…show more content…
Why does it admit so little reference to anyone else? I am speaking to you in American English that was taught me by Irish nuns—immigrant women. I wear an Indian face; I answer to a Spanish surname as well as this California first name, Richard. You might wonder about the complexity of historical factors, the collision of centuries, that creates Richard Rodriguez. My brownness is the illustration of that collision, or the bland memorial of it. I stand before you as an ImpureAmerican, an Ambiguous-American. In the 19th century, Texans used to say that the reason Mexicans were so easily defeated in battle was because we were so dilute, being neither pure Indian nor pure Spaniard. Yet, at the same time, Mexicans used to say that Mexico, the country of my ancestry, joined two worlds, two competing armies. José Vasconcelos, the Mexican educator and philosopher, famously described Mexicans as la raza cósmica, the cosmic race. In Mexico what one finds as early as the 18th century is a predominant population of mixed-race people. Also, once the slave had been freed in Mexico, the incidence of marriage between Indian and African people there was greater than in any other country in the Americas and has not been equaled since. Race mixture has not been a point of pride in America. Americans speak more easily about “diversity” than we do about the fact that I might marry your daughter; you might become we; we might become us. America has so readily
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