Rodriguez & Rodriguez: Between Chicano Marxist and Catholic Thought (pp. 99-108; DOI: 10.23692/iMex.17.7)

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Dr. Daniel Schreiner

Dr. Daniel Schreiner is a literary scholar and political scientist who is engaged with several grass roots organizations in Germany and the USA. He is working at the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and is a lecturer at the University of Paderborn. After assignments as a social worker, he taught German, literature and politics in Pakistan, Mexico and Azerbaijan and Germany. For his PhD project on “Mexican-American and Turkish-German Literature in Comparison – Writing as a Tool of Political and Cultural Participation” he was undertaking an extended research at the University of Texas at Austin and was interviewing several Mexican-American writers like Alejandro Morales, Luis J. Rodríguez, Demetria Martinez, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and Richard Rodríguez. He also co-translated three novels by the dissident Azeri author Alekper Aliyev.

One would consider Chicano literary figures Luis J. Rodriguez and Richard Rodriguez to be very different writers and from the opposite political spectrum. But there is common ground, too. For myresearch on Turkish-German and Mexican-American literature in comparison, I visited various authors and activists to tell a story of belonging and participation in contexts of migration. The essay Between Chicano Marxist and Catholic Thought is based on meetings and interviews with the Chicano veteran Luis Rodriguez in Sylmar and the homme de lettres Richard Rodriguez in San Francisco. Luis Rodriguez grew up in a barrio in L.A. where he got involved in gang violence at a very young age. Chicano activism and poetry showed him a way to understand social and racial structures of injustice and helped him to overcome his own patterns of toxic behavior. In contrast, Richard Rodriguez attended a Catholic High School, was able to pursue an academic education and became a sophisticated writer. His views on bilingual education and Affirmative action made him infamous within the intellectual Chicano community.

A primera vista, parece que los dos escritores chicanos Luis J. Rodríguez y Richard Rodríguez representan dos formas de escribir completamente diferentes, así como dos posiciones políticas opuestas. Sin embargo, hay intersecciones entre ambos. En el marco de sus estudios comparadas sobre la literatura turca-alemana y mexicana-estadounidense, visité a varios autores y activistas para contar una historia de pertenencia y participación en contextos de migración. El ensayo Between Chicano Marxist and Catholic Thoughtse basa en las entrevistas con el veteran chicano Luis Rodriguez en Sylmar y el hombre de letras, Richard Rodríguez, en San Francisco. Luis J. Rodriguez creció en un barrio de Los Angeles donde, aun muy joven, participó en actos violentos de pandillas. A través de la poesía y el activismo chicano, encontró maneras para entender las estructuras raciales y sociales de la injusticia, lo que le ayudó a superar comportamientos tóxicos. Richard Rodríguez, en cambio, fue a un colegio católico, optó por una carrera académica, y se hizo escritor sofisticado. Sus visiones sobre la educación bilingüe y la así llamada Acción afirmativa en colegios estadounidenses le causaron mala fama en la comunidad chicana intelectual.

 

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