Journalist Richard Rodriguez to Speak At UB Nov. 5

Release Date: October 20, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The meaning of the term "Hispanic" and who constitutes the rapidly growing population of Americans of Spanish and Spanish-Indian descent are among the questions to be addressed next month at the University at Buffalo by Richard Rodriguez, one of the country's most controversial and highly regarded journalists.

His lecture "Has anybody here seen a Hispanic?" will address the cultural diversity among the many Latino and Hispanic groups in America and how issues of language and cultural identity shared by these group are redefining America's social and political landscape.

The talk, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus, is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

It is open to the public. Tickets are available for $15, $10 and $5 (for students and UB faculty/staff only) at the Center for the Arts Box Office from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, or by calling the box office at 645-ARTS.

Rodriguez is an Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning writer distinguished by his critically acclaimed autobiographies, newspaper and magazine commentaries, and radio and television essays. He is known as well for his uncanny ability to alter audience perspective on the issues that concern him.

Rodriguez cites the prediction by the U.S. Census Bureau that by the year 2050, one in three Americans will claim to be Hispanic.

He says it is important for Americans to understand who and what the terms "Hispanic," "Latino" and "Chicano" mean. Because so many of us are confused by this question, he said, many assume that Americans of Spanish and Spanish-Indian descent constitute a racial group, which they do not.

Rodriguez has raised controversy with his political commentary and provocative positions on such issues as affirmative action and bilingual education, which he opposes.

He also has produced provocative and closely observed essays on crime; his teachers, the Sisters of Mercy; the religious revolution of Protestantism sweeping Latin America; language and meaning; cultural identity; history; cities, cultural conflict and change, and many other subjects.

He also continues to watch closely the changing roles of Mexico and the United States and how issues played out on their shared economic, political and cultural platform shapes us all.

Rodriguez, who describes himself as "a gay, Catholic, Mexican, Indian educated by Irish nuns who now lives in the Chinese city of San Francisco," was born and raised in California and graduated from Stanford University.

He later studied religion at Columbia University and was a fellow at London's Warburg Institute. His doctoral work in Renaissance literature was undertaken at the University of California, Berkeley.

His award-winning 1982 autobiography, "Hunger of Memory," describes the impact of his schooling, including many years of Catholic education, on his life and on his opposition to bilingual education and affirmative action. His second book, "Days of Obligation," is subtitled "An Argument with My Mexican Father" and was one of three finalists for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction. His third book, "The Color Brown," is forthcoming.

In addition to his work with PBS, Pacific News Service and the Los Angeles Times, Rodriguez is a contributing editor to Harper's Magazine and U.S. News and World Report. His articles also have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Scholar, Time, Mother Jones and The New Republic. He has produced two documentaries for the BBC and was the subject of a profile on Bill Moyers' "World of Ideas" television series.

His awards include an 1992 Emmy for Short Historical Essay for his piece, "Pearl Harbor Anniversary;" the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the International Journalism Award from the World Affairs Council of California; a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; a Fulbright Fellowship, and a 1997 George Peabody Award for television commentary.

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