Mexicans in America by Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez started off the discussion today at Cato Unbound on “Mexicans And America” . Here is a teaser of what he wrote:

Since America will not honor the poverty of the Mexican worker in theological terms, we should at least be clear that the Mexican is such a good worker because of the strength of the Mexican family. Mexicans work for each other; that is their reason for working.

On the other hand, I have heard Mexican astonishment at the kindness of strangers in America. The stranger gave me some money. The stranger gave me a ride in his truck. The stranger gave me some water. Whereas in Mexico, all such generosity takes place within the family, in America the generosity among strangers is often easier and more common than among relatives, and this amazes the Mexican.

America is a country where children are raised to leave home, and each generation is expected to seek its own way. The great pronoun of the United States is the Protestant pronoun—the “I”. America teaches its children independence and the bravery of the solitary path. The burden of life in America is loneliness. Not coincidentally, Mexican women, illegally in the United States, have been hired into the cold heart of America to sit with the young and the old.

The children of Mexican migrant workers, who are two or even three generations into this country, are faced with competing pronouns, and struggle to reconcile them. On the one hand, the Mexican American is expected to live within a family whose emotional architecture draws the child away from the window. On the other hand, America presents the child with an open door. As long as you understand this grammatical dilemma for the child struggling between the “we” and the “I”, any statistic you want—on Mexican American gangs, early marriage rates, suicide attempts, black-brown tensions, high school drop out rates, military heroism—becomes coherent.

The full article can be found here.

5 Responses to “Mexicans in America by Richard Rodriguez”


  • This artical makes alot of sense, I live in texas in a city where the mexican population is very high, and I too have noticed the difference in the family structure, I once worked in a nursing home it had around 100 rooms mostly white and black residents out of the 90 or so residents only 2 hispanics, one was a 70 year old latina that never had any children the other had a large family and there was someone visiting her everyday be it sons daughters grand children etc etc…… and the latter was only there for 6 months her son came and got her as soon as the extra room he built on his house was finished. In my middle class black family that is unheard of, for the most part we will park our old people in a home soon as they can nolonger care for themselves.

    Or I remember an exgirlfriend from highschool who had 4 brothers her brothers could not stand me {did want their sister dating a miate) but I was in a teen club and got into a fight with 4 redneck kids and her brothers were there and jumped in(drug them out side and beat the crap out of them) They did not help me because they liked me, they jumped in because their mother liked me and I was their sisters novio, again the family thing.

  • One day as we were reading Julius Caeser in English class (ca. 1990), our concentration was disrupted by the heavy bass boom of a lowrider rolling down the adjacent boulevard. A classmate’s voice then cut through the silence saying, “Hey, Nonyo, your mom’s here!” Everyone laughed. That same day at lunch, another classmate asked me if my mom’s Mexican Pizzas were of as good a quality as those available at Taco Bell. Everyone was laughing too hard to hear me say that yes, indeed, they were.
    I guess this was the view through that marvelous open door America presents to us as children of immigrants.
    I became a one man gang.

  • Great read. Thanks. :)

  • I am really sick of the Mexicans complaining about how bad they are treated in America. If its so bad here go back to Mexico. Even your own Country, your own government treats its own people worse than the American people. So quit your whining, your here, suck it up , get an education, stop making excuses and get over yourselves and move on.

    From my point of view, your families brought you here, you raise families of criminals all victimized by America! GO BACK TO MEXICO! MAKE YOUR COUNTRY GREAT! OTHERWISE SHUT UP!

  • His article is very well written and flows very good. His reasoning leaves a bit to be desired. He is assuming that all Americans are an “I” family. He is assuming that all Americans have an “illegal alien” as their nanny while the Americans neglect their children.
    He also is asserting that we should, under the logic he gives, give back our country back to the Mexican Indians.

    My family, and most of the families that I am familiar with, regard that Families are first and foremost. There is no ‘I’ in that as he implies.

    My family and most of the families that I am familiar with have never had a nanny and take care of their own. We have raised our kids to become productive citizens of these United States of America.

    My family and the families I am familiar with do not have problems with immigrant workers and treat them with dignity and respect. We have further hired these immigrant workers to do work on our homes, farms and our vehicles. However, we are talking about LEGAL immigrant workers here.

    My family tries to stay away from people that do things illegally, and we are very comfortable in that. Immigrants that come here illegally are not legal, they are illegal. If they are willing to break that first law entering into our nation, we must suspect them in honoring our laws in these United States.

    As far as this country belonging to them in the first place, well we won that battle not even fair and square. The Mexicans outnumbered and outgunned us but we persevered, and the treaties were signed making the territory part of the United States. I don’t think we are giving it back, and I will be part of those that will fight to the death to protect our country from those that want to take it away, or back, or whatever anyone wants to call it.

    I know that those that disagree with me are going to call me a racist. If that makes them feel better about themselves, I can’t change that. However the America that I will lay my life down for in defense of it, includes all the citizens and legal aliens, regardless of race, creed or color.

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