Affirmative Action in the Hunger of Memory Book by Rodriguez

In his book titled Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez expresses his dissent with the policy of affirmative action, which is based on the principle that racism is the key to social oppression. He states, Americans learned to look beyond the class in considering social oppression… became easy to underestimate, even to ignore altogether, the importance of class. (Rodriguez 149). He, therefore, ascribes differences in class as being the primary reason for division and oppression in society. He favors a policy of assimilation and suggests that the racial divide can be bridged only by true and complete assimilation. Critics have however pointed out that it is only by allowing ethnicity to thrive and be respected, that some measure of equality can be achieved – since it is difficult for people to completely separate themselves from their ethnic roots and take to a foreign culture (Salvidar 27).In my own view as a Korean bilingual student who is learning English as a second language, Rodriguez’s views appear unrealistic and impractical for everyone to achieve. The difficulties that second language students face in learning English are a function of the differences in their own native tongues. There may be three major aspects that affect a student’s ability to learn English : (a) their low level of understanding and self-esteem (b) the different system of sounds in different languages and (c) differences in grammar. When a student has continuously spoken and studied in one language and then tries to learn English, the native language does tend to interfere with the learning of English. However, this cannot form the basis for completely rejecting the native tongue and bilingual education, as Rodriguez suggests. There may be a need to reform teaching and learning methods instead. Similarly, where Affirmative Action is concerned, it is only by allowing diversity to thrive and cultural and ethnic differences to be recognized and celebrated that there can be some measure of equality in society. Achieving this through complete assimilation is a difficult if not downright impossible task.