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Friday, October 23, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 44

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Rodriguez brings views on race and culture to UH

By William Cordray
Daily Cougar Staff 

Noted Hispanic writer Richard Rodriguez shared his views on culture, race and society Tuesday at UH during a special public lecture, "Eating Burritos: A Conversation with Richard Rodriguez."

Known for his two books, Hungry of Memory and Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father, Rodriguez is also a well-known essayist and journalist. He is in charge of the Pacific News Service, contributes to the BBC and is a regular commentator on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Before the scheduled lecture, Rodriguez attended Professor Steven Mintz's U.S. History to 1877 class and gave a rare half-hour impromptu speech.

Rodriguez discussed his views on the hidden mysteries within our cultures with the class before a 20-minute question-and-answer session regarding multiculturalism, affirmative action, race and the ever-growing American society.

In his afternoon public speech in the University Hilton's Shamrock Ballroom, Rodriguez stressed the need for this not to be a lecture but more of a "personal conversation (as) if you (and) I were alone in this room."

Students, faculty and the general public participated in an informal Q-and-A with Rodriguez. Many questions arose about the effects of multiculturalism, the need for stronger political figures in the Hispanic community and problems with education.

At the end of both his discussions, Rodriguez said that "the fact is, we are learning from each other all the time."

College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication Dean Lois Zamora commented on the benefit of having a notable media figure speak at UH.

"Richard is one of our most important commentators on our many American identities," Zamora said. "He is an acute observer of the interactions of groups that have traditionally been traditionally defined by ethnicity, race, religion, gender and the many other ways that we form smaller communities within our larger society. Richard advocates that we question those lines and critique them where necessary."

Mintz agreed that Rodriguez's appearances at UH were appropriate "given the incredible ethnic diversity of the UH student body, Rodriguez deals with identity, assimilation and intergroup relations questions that our students on campus are wrestling with."

Kyle Macy, a freshman chemical engineering major, said Rodriguez put things in a larger perspective.

"I think Rodriguez's views of the society in America was different," Macy said. "I never really thought about how he described it. He really put (society) in a larger perspective, the whole racial viewpoint of America as we know it."
 

Reach Cordray at
wcordray@bayou.uh.edu.
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