Rodriguez: I had all this anxiety about what it meant to be a minority. My professors — the same men who taught me the intricacies of language — just shied away from the issue. They didn't want to talk about it, other than to suggest I could be a "role model" to other Hispanics — when I went back to my barrio, I suppose. I came from a white middle class neighborhood. Was I expected to go back there and teach the woman next door about Renaissance sonnets? The embarrassing truth of the matter was that I was being chosen because Yale University had some peculiar idea about what my skin color or ethnicity signified. Who knows what Yale thought it was getting when it hired Richard Rodriguez? The people who offered me the job thought there was nothing wrong with that. I thought there was something very wrong. I still do. I think race-based affirmative action is crude and absolutely mistaken.
Richard Rodriguez (1944- ) was born in San Francisco and earned a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph. D from the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked as an essayist, college lecturer, editor, and broadcast journalist. Rodriguez has written a controversial and influential trilogy of memoirs about American public life: (1982), (1992), and (2002). His views, especially those against affirmative action and bilingual education, have been the focus of much lively debate over the past two decades. He has published numerous articles and essays in periodicals such as , , and . Rodriguez's many awards and honors include a Peabody Award in 1997 for his work on the PBS program and the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This essay was first published in 1981 in , and reprinted in a slightly different form in .
Essays and criticism on Richard Rodriguez - Critical Essays
In the essay “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood,” Richard Rodriguez illustrates the distinctions between individual and social identity as a Mexican immigrant.
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In Richard Rodriguez’s The Achievement of Desire we are presented with a young Richard Rodriguez and follow him from the start of his education until he is an adult finally having reached his goals.
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