What is Rodriguez's stance on bilingual education and affirmative action? What might one learn from his narrative, regardless of one's stance on these issues?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Hunger of Memory, Richard Rodriguez's stance on affirmative action and bilingual education in American schools is explicit, and to many, quite controversial.

Rodriguez believes that a person who participates in two cultures in America has a responsibility to speak the "public" language of English outside the home. He believes that it enables people to work on a more level playing field and have a better chance for academic, social and economic success. Rodriguez has stated that bilingual education in schools hinders students from fully mastering English and prevents full assimilation into the open and free country of America. He also came to believe that is important to speak one's native language at home in a private, familial setting because it helps to preserve cultural traditions and relationships. He neglected to do this himself, and it caused a rift between himself and the rest of his family.

As far as affirmative action is concerned, Rodriguez is against it because he believes that it works against minorities and perpetuates division and oppression instead of lifting them out of poverty and discrimination. Rodriguez is an advocate for achievement or merit rather than preference shown for race, and he avers that affirmative action could ultimately amount to reverse discrimination. In an interview with Scott London, Rodriguez speaks plainly about some of the objections he has with affirmative action:

Affirmative action ignores our society's real minorities—members of the disadvantaged classes, no matter what their race. We have this ludicrous bureaucratic sense that certain racial groups, regardless of class, are minorities. So what happens is those "minorities" at the very top of the ladder get chosen for everything.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team