Richard Rodriguez Quotes

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: ‘m constantly depressed by the Mexican gang members I meet in East
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'm constantly depressed by the Mexican gang members I meet in East L.A. who essentially live their lives inside five or six blocks. They are caught in some tiny ghetto of the mind that limits them to these five blocks because, they say, "I'm Mexican. I live here." And I say, "What do you mean you live here - five blocks? Your granny, your abualita, walked two thousand miles to get here. She violated borders, moved from one language to another, moved from a sixteenth-century village to a twenty-first-century city, and you live within five blocks?"

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: It is not simply that these two cities are perched side by
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It is not simply that these two cities are perched side by side at the edge of the Pacific; it is that adolescence sits next to middle age, and they don't know how to relate to each other. In a way, these two cities exist in different centuries. San Diego is a post-industrial city talking about settling down, slowing down, building clean industry. Tijuana is a preindustrial city talking about changing, moving forward, growing. Yet they form a single metropolitan area.

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: Maybe the American Dream is too rich for us now in the
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Maybe the American Dream is too rich for us now in the U.S. Maybe we're losing it because we are not like our Swedish grandmother who came across the plains, hacked down the trees, and took the Spanish words she encountered and made them hers. Now her great-great-grandchildren sit terrified, wondering what to do with all these Mexicans. The American Dream is an impossible affirmation of possibility. And maybe native-born Americans don't have it anymore. Maybe it has run through their fingers.

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: When the Irish nun said to me, “Speak your name loud and
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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.

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: The first book by an African American I read was Carl T.
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The first book by an African American I read was Carl T. Rowan's memoir, Go South to Sorrow. I found it on the bookshelf at the back of my fifth-grade classroom, an adult book. I can remember the quality of the morning on which I read. It was a sunlit morning in January, a Saturday morning, cold, high, empty. I sat in a rectangle of sunlight, near the grate of the floor heater in the yellow bedroom. And as I read, I became aware of warmth and comfort and optimism. I was made aware of my comfort by the knowledge... Read more »

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: Books should confuse. Literature abhors the typical. Literature flows to the particular,
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Books should confuse. Literature abhors the typical. Literature flows to the particular, the mundane, the greasiness of paper, the taste of warm beer, the smell of onion or quince. Auden has a line: "Ports have names they call the sea." Just so will literature describe life familiarly, regionally, in terms life is accustomed to use -- high or low matters not. Literature cannot by this impulse betray the grandeur of its subject -- there is only one subject: What it feels like to be alive. Nothing is irrelevant. Nothing is typical.

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: The university has become so stultified since the sixties. There is so
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The university has become so stultified since the sixties. There is so much you can't do at the university. You can't say this, you can't do that, you can't think this, and so forth. In many ways, I'm free to range as widely as I do intellectually precisely because I'm not at a university. The tiresome Chicanos would be after me all the time. You know: "We saw your piece yesterday, and we didn't like what you said," or, "You didn't sound happy enough," or, "You didn't sound proud enough."

Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez Picture Quote image saying: For me, diversity is not a value. Diversity is what you find
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For me, diversity is not a value. Diversity is what you find in Northern Ireland. Diversity is Beirut. Diversity is brother killing brother. Where diversity is shared - where I share with you my difference - that can be valuable. But the simple fact that we are unlike each other is a terrifying notion. I have often found myself in foreign settings where I became suddenly aware that I was not like the people around me. That, to me, is not a pleasant discovery.

Richard Rodriguez