Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Refusing the New Racism

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Refusing the New Racism

Article excerpt

From the interview with Richard Rodriguez

WHENEVER I'M ASKED about my race, I just want to subvert those categories. I don't know what they mean. I don't know what it means to be Mexican--I have an American passport. I'm intrigued that I have an Indian face, but equally intrigued that my father's family had some rumor of Sephardic Jews in the family.

As I go down a street in Cairo one day--this is a true story--I'm trying to figure out why I feel so at home there. For the first time in my life I begin to think about Islamic Spain, that for 300 years Spain was Muslim. I know that Spanish has an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Arabic words within it; that by speaking Spanish, I speak Arabic. I know this intellectually. But it wasn't until I got to the Middle East that I thought, "I might be Arabic."

By 1492, the year that Columbus goes off looking for India and spices, Spain had expelled the Jew and the Moor. But it was too late. The Jew and the Moor were already within the Spaniard. …

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