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'Opportunity, Not Utopia'

March 28, 1993

Being a stranger in a new land, albeit a country that one or one's parents have chosen, is not always easy. Luis Rodriguez, in his reviews of "Growing Up Latino" and "Drink Cultura" (Feb. 28), recounts the embarrassment felt by a Mexican immigrant child when she made God what sounded like a "string bean" and not a "supreme being." He then proceeds to posit a bleak world for Latinos in the United States.

As a personal aside, when I was a child I was called a "dirty Mexican" in the confessional by an Irish-American priest. I nursed that insult for years out a deeply felt need to count myself among the downtrodden of the earth.

Then I grew up.

The politics of blame and oppression are dead ends, Luis. Invoking in this context the completely irrelevant name of Malcolm X does as much good as calling in the ghosts of Mao or Lenin or Fidel Castro. Words like slavery and colonialism produce knee-jerk reactions from increasingly small numbers of us.

We or our forebears chose to come to this country because it afforded opportunity, not Utopia. Your message has become a cliche. Review the books and leave your politics aside.

MANUEL H. RODRIGUEZ

BURBANK

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