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Portraits: Richard Rodriguez
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson
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Richard Rodriguez on life, death and choosing the church — watch the full interview. Plus, hear Richard Rodriguez on his book BROWN.

"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."
--Richard Rodriguez

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Acclaimed journalist and essayist Richard Rodriguez writes about the intersection of his personal life with some of the most vexing cultural and political problems facing America.

The son of Mexican immigrants to California, Rodriguez grew up in a home where his parents clung closely to their native culture and only Spanish was spoken. His struggles to learn English and assimilate into American society served as the raw material for his well-known 1982 autobiography, HUNGER OF MEMORY: THE EDUCATION OF RICHARD RODRIGUEZ, a milestone examination of education, cultural identity, and social alienation that remains controversial today for its criticism of bilingual education and affirmative action.

In 1992, Rodriguez penned DAYS OF OBLIGATION: AN ARGUMENT WITH MY MEXICAN FATHER, an extended personal essay exploring the moral and cultural gap separating Protestant America and Catholic Mexico. The book was a runner-up for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. A decade later, Rodriguez published BROWN: THE LAST DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, a series of essays on art, culture, and racial politics that uses the color "brown" as a metaphor for in-between states of being, arguing in particular that America's historical concept of race as limited to black and white is outdated and culturally damaging.

As a journalist, Richard Rodriguez has worked for more than 20 years for Pacific News Service in San Francisco and is a contributing editor to Harper's magazine and a frequent commentator on THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER on PBS. His televised essays on American life for the NEWSHOUR earned him a prestigious George Peabody Award in 1997. Rodriguez is currently at work on a book on the common bonds between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

listenIn 2003, Rodriguez spoke with Bill Moyers about his book BROWN: THE LAST DISCOVERY OF AMERICA. (Listen to the interview or read the transcript)

listenIn 1990, Rodriguez appeared on Bill Moyers' WORLD OF IDEAS. (Listen to the interview or read the transcript — Part I [PDF], Part II [PDF])

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Watch and Listen
  • Watch the interview

    listenRichard Rodriguez on writing faith at the PEN Festival (7:22 mp3)

    listenRichard Rodriguez on BROWN

    listenRichard Rodriguez from WORLD OF IDEAS (43:46)


  • Find out more
  • Jesuits and The Day of the Dead — matters under discussion in the interview

  • About faith & doubt

  • About faith & politics

  • FAITH & REASON booklist


  • Resources
  • Essays by Richard Rodriguez on THE ONLINE NEWSHOUR

  • "A View from the Melting Pot," An interview with Richard Rodriguez

  • Richard Rodriguez on the Pacific News Service


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