In our second of two-part interview with Richard Rodriguez, America's best essayist holds nothing back.
Born in Sacramento, California, in 1944, Rodriguez became part of American literature with Hunger of Memory, his autobiography about growing up in both worlds, telling us the price one has to pay for becoming assimilated; the loss of family, the vicissitudes of loneliness, the growing pains of leaving the womb of a private, homely life for the brusque, often savage arms of a public one.
An essayist for PBS, a former opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times and for many magazines, Rodriguez is currently promoting Darling, a Spiritual Autobiography.
Latino Leaders caught up with Mr. Rodriguez at his home in San Francisco. Our publication has done thousands of interviews lately in search of what it means to be Latino, of a Latino agenda (if there is one) and where we should go from here.
In our second part (the first part was published in our OctoberNovember, 2015 issue), Rodriguez talks about Latino sensuality, our rabid adherence to family and why we are perishing due to fear.
JT--There seems to be racism as a non-going thing in the history in the US where are we going as a countiy in this issue?
RR--There is dialectic in America between Canada and Mexico and the two directions of both countries as they play on us. From Canada we got multiculturalism. Canada invented multiculturalism and is a very liberal notion Pierre Elliott Trudeau came up with multiculturalism and its respectful of variety that in this country you don't have to be Anglo, you don't have to be French, you can be Cambodian and be truly Canadian, that is what multiculturalism expresses. In the American classrooms now multiculturalism is basic to the way a schooling gets conducted because there will be 70, 80, 90 language groups in the school, so everyone talks about the school as being multicultural. Well I'm not Canadian, my understanding of life comes from Mexico, and Mexico's notion was a much more erotic notion that is that people fall in love with each other. Or people rape each other, or people go on dates and end up with a baby that they didn't intend. That there is an erotic energy in the world, not simply batdes, but also romance. Latin America is a sensual place. Much concerned with music and food because that is how people exist. Nobody says to you today let's go to a Canadian restaurant tonight, what would this Canadian restaurant serve? They would serve water, lots of good clean water. But people say lets go to a Mexican restaurant even if they don't like Mexican...