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GOOD MORNING ON THE RIVER! Serving Antojitos to Zucchini \(Breakfast, Nachos, Burgers, Chili, Hot Dogs, 7:30 a.m. until Midnight 225-4098 511 Rivcrwalk Across from the Kangaroo Court San Antonio, Texas END RESTAURANT DO IT TODAY! . . Send the Observer to name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription; send card in my name $20 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $20 name address city state zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 Rodriguez… the matter. For he is being widely read, and his generalizations on language, on education, on culture are being taken for gospel truth not only by the Right but also by the Establishment Left, to judge by the blurbs on the book jacket. Richard Rodriguez, queramos o no querarnos demands our attention. His is not a particularly interesting story. It is not a comedy, as he would have it, much less a tragedy. It is not dramatic. There is scarcely any tension in it. While perhaps a unique expression, it is hardly a unique case. Well written it is, although sometimes precious, and consistently disarming. He disarms by making fun of himself, by criticizing himself, by revealing his weaknesses, his foibles, his ragged edges before we can. Sad it is. Yes, sad, for Richard’s problem is one of arrested development, not unlike that of the “sarape” nationalists he has so much trouble with. In the quiet of the British Museum, during his Fulbright year, he experienced \(apparently for the first scholar, got a whiff of the sterility of the profession, and grew nostalgic for the past that he had so resolutely left behind at age 7. Abandoning his dissertation he read books on educational theory and came upon one that described, almost pathologically, his case. In Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, he came upon the truth: he was a ‘scholarship boy’. And glory be there were others like him, the sons of working-class folk all over this world, who, having excelled in school, found themselves separated from their families, their culture, and who were never able to achieve a reconciliation with them. \(Not everyone who excels in schooling is a ‘scholarship boy’; most according to Richard HogThe portrait Richard offers us of Hoggart’s ‘scholarship boy’ is not a flattering one: anxious, troubled, high strung, brooding, sensitive, intellectually mediocre, lacking in self confidence, unoriginal. Y Richard se lo creyo. But even more sadly, Richard, who began his journey back to his past at that point, never arrived. Rather than resolving his crisis by affirming his dual selves his working-class origins and his middleclass manners. his Mexicaness and his Americaness Richard chose instead to market his existential anguish \(‘Why’, his mother asks, `do you need to tell the gringos about how “divided you feel Porque trabajos no esta pasando. He is part of the jet and cocktail sets \(Belgravia, New York, Connecticut, Bel Air, Turkey, Brazil problem when his fellowship monies run out \(‘I have friends who, with a phone now, with the publication of this book, his career as a lecturer has been revitalized. I have said above that Richard Rodriguez’ case is not unique. Jose Antonio Villarreal wrestled with the problem 20 years ago in his autobiographical novel, Pocho Hank Lopez sparred with it 15 years ago, in his autobiographical essay, “Back to Bachimba,” \(Hank suffered a split deciwith it 10 years ago, in The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo \(Zeta lost, although we didn’t find that out until The Revolt of the Cockroach People apBut this was only the tip of the iceberg, for many more of us have struggled with it some publicly, most not and achieved some measure of resolution, despite the scorn, the contempt, the hostility, the resentment that our efforts attract. Richard Rodriguez’ angst is no big deal. Most of us have suffered worse. What is intolerable is his lack of historical awareness. Several years ago I wrote an essay entitled “Pochos: The Different Mexicans, Part I” \(Azt/an, spoke about the pocho syndrome and how the Chicano movement had provided an opportunity to break it. The true alienation of the pocho, I argued there, has had more to do with America’s rejection of Sour Mexicaness than with To be sure. those of us who excelled were perceived to be “different.” We were the ‘good’ Mexicans, but we were still Mexicans. However well any one of us may do, however well any of us may be treated, our collective experience in America has been one of exclusion, of rejection. Our coming of age took place when we understood that the reasons for our rejection did not lie in ourselves and therefore could not be overcome by any individual efforts, whether through accommodation or assimilation. Knowing that we could begin to fashion a new future for ourselves. This Richard has still to learn. Arturo Madrid is a former associate dean at the University of Minn. He is now a consultant living in Washington D.C. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19