But America isn't a country of family values; Mexico is a country of family values. This is a country of people who leave home.

— Richard Rodriguez

The most killer Richard Rodriguez quotes that will transform you to a better person

I think what education gives you is a voice.

It gives you a way of talking to a judge. When a policeman pulls you off to the side of the road, you have a voice. When you cross a border, you have a voice. When you are writing to express your opinions, you have a voice.

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There are things so deeply personal that they can be revealed only to strangers.

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If you want to live in Tennessee, God bless you, I wish for you a long life and starry evenings. But that is not where I want to live my life. I want to live my life in Carthage, in Athens. I want to live my life in Rome. I want to live my life in the center of the world. I want to live my life in Los Angeles.

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The drama of the essay is the way the public life intersects with my personal and private life. It's in that intersection that I find the energy of the essay.

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I worry these days that Latinos in California speak neither Spanish nor English very well. They are in a kind of linguistic limbo between the two. They don't really have a language, and are, in some deep sense, homeless.

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In some countries, of course, Spanish is the language spoken in public.

But for many American children whose families speak Spanish at home, it becomes a private language. They use it to keep the English-speaking world at bay.

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Though I am alive now, I do not believe an old man's pessimism is nessessarily truer than a young man's optimism simply because it comes after. There are things a young man knows that are true and are not yet in the old man's power to recollect. Spring has its sappy wisdom.

8

I write about race in America in hopes of undermining the notion of race in America.

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In the Sacramento of the 1950s, it was as though White simply hadn't had time enough to figure Brown out. It was a busy white time. Brown was like the skinny or fat kids left over after the team captains chose sides. You take the rest — my cue to wander away to the sidelines, to wander away.

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The Indians had to be either killed, or herded into reservations, which were essentially concentration camps, and forgotten. Their history had to be absolutely obliterated so that we could believe that we were living on virgin soil.

5

The difference between being Mexican and being Chinese, as I can see it, is that when you go to Harvard from a Chinese family, the whole family goes to Harvard. When you're a Mexican and you go to Harvard, you betray the family.

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Of course, San Diego chooses not to regard the two cities as one.

Talk about alter ego: Tijuana was created by the lust of San Diego. Everything that was illegal in San Diego was permitted in Tijuana. When boxing was illegal in San Diego, there were boxing matches in Tijuana; when gambling was illegal, there was always Tijuana.

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About Richard Rodriguez

Quotes 75 sayings
Profession Writer
Birthday July 31, 1944

So, rather than becoming multicultural, rather than becoming a person of several languages, rather than becoming confident in your knowledge of the world, you become just the opposite. You end up in college having to apologize for the fact that you no longer speak your native language.

5

I keep trying to tell people that Los Angeles is already the largest Indian city in the U.S., that there are Toltecs playing Little League baseball in Pasadena, Mayans making beds at the Marriott in Westwood, and Chichimecs driving buses in L.A. Los Angeles is a majority-Indian city.

4

Language is a social event.

4

The Census Bureau is thinking of creating a new category because so many kids don't know how to describe themselves using the existing categories. I call these kids the "Keanu Reeves Generation," after the actor who has a Hawaiian father and a Welsh mother.

4

I regret that I was never an athlete.

I regret there isn't time in life. I regret that so many of my friends have died. I regret that I was not brave at certain times in my life. I regret that I'm not beautiful. I regret that my conversation is largely with myself. I'm not part of the conversation of the world.

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The average age in the U.S. is now thirty-three, whereas Mexico gets younger and younger, retreats deeper and deeper into adolescence. Mexico is fifteen. Mexico is wearing a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt and wandering around Tijuana looking for a job, for a date, for something to put on her face to take care of the acne.

3

It is very curious that the United States and Canada both assume that diversity means only race and ethnicity. They never assume it might mean more Nazis, or more Southern Baptists. That's diversity too, you know.

3

You don't know Mexico, man. You have trivialized Mexico. You are a fool about Mexico if you think that Mexico is five blocks. That is not Mexico; that is some crude Americanism you have absorbed.

3

Intimacy is not trapped within words.

It passes through words. It passes. The truth is that intimates leave the room. Doors close. Faces move away from the window. Time passes. Voices recede into the dark. Death finally quiets the voice. And there is no way to deny it. No way to stand in the crowd, uttering one's family language.

3

We're looking at complexity. We're looking at blond kids in Beverley Hills who can speak Spanish because they have been raised by Guatemalan nannies. We're looking at Evangelicals coming up from Latin America to convert the U.S. at the same time that L.A. movie stars are taking up Indian pantheism.

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I've once gotten in trouble with certain gay activists because I'm not gay enough! I am a morose homosexual. I'm melancholy. Gay is the last adjective I would use to describe myself. The idea of being gay, like a little sparkler, never occurs to me. So if you ask me if I'm gay, I say no.

2

There is San Diego - this retirement village, with its prim petticoat, that doesn't want to get too near the water. San Diego worries about all the turds washing up on the lovely, pristine beaches of La Jolla. San Diego wishes Mexico would have fewer babies. And San Diego, like the rest of America, is growing middle-aged.

2

I think it's an important thing for a Mexican to say, especially now with the rebellion in Chiapas. Mexico has to confront her Indian face, and yet she refuses to do so. When you turn on Mexican television, it's like watching Swedish TV: everyone is blond.

2

You learn in America to speak two ways.

You learn in public discourse not to be very specific about your religious life. Or, if we talk about it, we'll find a secular way of doing it that will not be offensive to people of non-belief. So, that you go through life with these alternate voices.

2

Of course, since we don't see the Indian as a living figure - having turned the Indian into a kind of mascot for the ecology movement, a symbol of prehistory - we can't see the Indian among us.

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Learning can cause social fracture. Your people start expressing themselves.

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For them [LGBT group], language has to say exactly what it means.

"Why aren't you proud of being gay?" they wanted to know. "Why are you so dark? Why are you so morbid? Why are you so sad? Don't you realize, we're all okay? Let's celebrate that fact." But that is not what writers do. We don't celebrate being "okay." If you want to be okay, take an aspirin.

0

After the second chapter of Days of Obligation, which is about the death of a friend of mine from AIDS, was published in Harper's, I got this rather angry letter from a gay-and-lesbian group that was organizing a protest against the magazine. It was the same old problem: political groups have almost no sense of irony.

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When a society doesn't know what to do with its young, it's in real trouble.

When the young don't know what to do with society - at the very least, revolutions start there.

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Human unhappiness is evidence of our immortality.

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I don't deny people their fantasy life, but I do think that we desperately need to start realizing just how complicated our reality is in America. Sitcoms just don't show us that.

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But lots of emerging racial tensions in California have nothing to do with whites: Filipinos and Samoans are fighting it out in San Francisco high schools. Merced is becoming majority Mexican and Cambodian. They may be fighting in gangs right now, but I bet they are also learning each other's language.

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But one does not forget by trying to forget. One only remembers.

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So many of my friends tell me they’re not religious.

I’m like, Of course you’re religious. You watch Oprah Winfrey, don’t you?

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It's no surprise that at the same time that American universities have engaged in a serious commitment to diversity, they have been thought-prisons. We are not talking about diversity in any real way. We are talking about brown, black, white versions of the same political ideology.

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Mexico was most powerfully my father's smile and not, as you might otherwise imagine, not language, not pigment.

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fter the O.J. Simpson trial there was talk about how the country was splitting in two - one part black, one part white. It was ludicrous: typical gringo arrogance. It's as though whites and blacks can imagine America only in terms of each other. It's mostly white arrogance, in that it places whites always at the center of the racial equation.

0

The myth of the dead Indian goes back to the Protestant settlement of the U.

S. The Pilgrims wanted to start a new life in America. They wanted to believe that in some sense they had come to a new Eden and that they could leave history behind in Europe. So they convinced themselves that this land had no history, that this was "virgin" land. This made the Indians' presence inconvenient.

0

In Sacramento, my brown was not halfway between black and white.

On the leafy streets, on the east side of town, where my family lived, where Asians did not live, where Negroes did not live, my family's Mexican shades passed as various.

0

My decision was sparked by affirmative action.

There was a point in my life when affirmative action would have meant something to me - when my family was working-class, and we were struggling.

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The popular idea of a role model implies that an adult's influence on a child is primarily occupational, and that all a black child needs is to see a black doctor, and then this child will think, "Oh, I can become a doctor too."

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But very early in life I became part of the majority culture and now don't think of myself as a minority. Yet the university said I was one. Anybody who has met a real minority - in the economic sense, not the numerical sense - would understand how ridiculous it is to describe a young man who is already at the university, already well into his studies in Italian and English Renaissance literature, as a minority.

0

Mexicans who come to America today end up opposing assimilation.

They say they are "holding on to their culture." To them, I say, "If you really wanted to hold on to your culture, you would be in favor of assimilation. You would be fearless about swallowing English and about becoming Americanized. You would be much more positive about the future, and much less afraid. That's what it means to be Mexican.

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Most American Hispanics don't belong to one race, either.

I keep telling kids that, when filling out forms, they should put "yes" to everything - yes, I am Chinese; yes, I am African; yes, I am white; yes, I am a Pacific Islander; yes, yes, yes - just to befuddle the bureaucrats who think we live separately from one another.

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I had an Indian face, but I never saw it as Indian, in part because in America the Indian was dead. The Indian had been killed in cowboy movies, or was playing bingo in Oklahoma. Also, in my middle-class Mexican family indio was a bad word, one my parents shy away from to this day. That's one of the reasons, of course, why I always insist, in my bratty way, on saying, Soy indio! - "I am an Indian!"

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We're looking at such enormous complexity and variety that it makes a mockery of "celebrating diversity." In the L.A. of the future, no one will need to say, "Let's celebrate diversity." Diversity is going to be a fundamental part of our lives. That's what it's going to mean to be modern.

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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.

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