It is noted that throughout the Richard Rodriguez aria, the theme that certainly comes out quite clear is the difficulty of assimilation especially that which is being portrayed by the Hispanic immigrants in the culture of the United States. Rodrigues has been seen as one of the individuals who are really a strong supporter of the idea that those who come to American should become assimilated into American society. According to him, he is strong of the opinion that those who would necessarily encourage the narrative that Native American to avoid becoming part of the overall society is doing to them a great disservice. These individuals according to him are not realizing that people do not necessarily lose their individuality by becoming part of the public society.
He quotes that "while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by the aspect of becoming assimilated into the public society, in most cases, such assimilations will only make possible the achievements of the overall public individuality". It can be noted that it is from this position that Rodrigues tend to be arguing against bilingual education. This is the concept that children should be taught by the use of their first language for a given period immediately after they enter school.
In relation to assimilation in the United States, one of the issues which have been significantly highlighted by Rodrigues is the role of language. In Rodrigues household, the language which was majorly spoken was Spanish. As explained by him, English was only spoken by the gringos. Before he could reach the age of seven, at the time that English was imposed upon him, he felt that coming home was quite a relief. At this time he tactfully describes the language of Spanish as the "the language of joyful return".At the time that the English language had become a household language, his life drastically changed. This came as an empowerment. It was this time that he first felt like he was much empowered. He was now able to raise his hand in class and provide answers to the questions which could be raised. It was during this time that he began n to connect to the world. This was the world outside his house. It was American.
With time, he begun to speak so much of English language renderings span to falter. This aspect brought him a lot of confusion as most of the family tend to think that he was being misled out of the family. He was so disappointed that his family only thought that only astonish language held them together.
Another issue which he strongly brought about as far as assimilation in the country was concerned is the aspect of bilingual education. The issue of bilingual education in the country began during the colonial period. During this time, teachers were really struggling to teach students who were only speaking Dutch, French, and Swedish. It was not until recently that the federal government pushed for bilingual education in 1967. The basic of this kind of education was primarily to assist new immigrants by the virtue of providing school lessons which were taught in their native language at the very initial stages of their experience with the American education system
The other theme which has been significantly highlighted by Rodrigues is the aspect of race and ethnicity. By the time that he was growing up, Rodrigues was perfectly aware of his skin color. He knew that he looked different from other children who were mostly in the white neighborhood. Out of his entire family, he claims that he was the one with the darkest skin tone. At some point, his aunts would try various concoction on his face to brighten his skin color. Consequently, his more often warned him of spending much time in the sun, according to his mother staying longer in the sun would only make his skin even darker. She was so much concerned that sun would end up looking like "Los pores" or the poor or the kind of powerless men who laboured out all day. This really shows how much the immigrants felt so inferior because of their color. They strongly believed that a perfect man should only be white. Other colors were associated with poverty and ugliness (Rodriguez, 1983).
At various point in his life, he remembered hearing very few racial slurs which were directed at him. Whenever this could happen he was in most cases so stunned that he could not even answer. The perception of his skin has since changed. He now marvels at some of the responses that he gets because of his skin color. Most of the people are now assuming that he has been on vacations or could once in while asking him if he had ever thought of doing any high fashion modeling.
The other significant as pact when it comes to assimilation in the nation was the issue of education. Rodrigues strongly believes that he was assimilated into the adult hood through educations. However, he is also of the view that this same education placed a lot of gulf between his benefiting and who he ended up becoming. It is monger quite easy for him to talk freely with his parent as they originally used to. Education n according to him has also enabled him to voice the struggle that he seems to be going through he says" it is because of my education that I have grown culturally separated from my parents, then this kind of education has finally given me a way of speaking and also caring about the fact. In fact, in most cases, rug rogues are seen to be wringing with a lot of pride when it comes to his academic achievements. These very achievements include his four years at Stanford University and his post-graduate work at the University of Colombia (Rodriguez, 1983).
The process of an assimilation starts as early as when one is still a child. From childhood, child can really get assimilated much quicker than the older generation. This is one of the factors which was causing so much rift between Rodrigues and his parent. His parents could not just understand how fast he was becoming an American. However, according to Rodrigues, his childhood was rather awkward. This was primarily brought by the existing tension between his private life and what he would call his public life when he was inside his household. His quest to learn English was by this time the new language was one of the factors that propelled him even to greater heights. The kind of heights which he claims was not necessary according to his parents because it was only making their family to be even more divided
Rodriguez, Richard T. "John Alba Cutler, Ends of Assimilation: The Formation of Chicano Literature." (2016): 249-251.
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of memory: The education of Richard Rodriguez: An autobiography. Bantam, 1983.
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