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“None of This Is Fair” by Richard Rodriguez, Book Review Example

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Book Review

The essay “None of this is Fair” by Richard Rodriguez is an extremely relevant commentary on the Affirmative Action system from the perspective of not just a Mexican-American, but one who has admittedly benefitted from the program in the past.

Being able to call oneself a graduate from Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley, regardless of how one got in is an amazing achievement. When Richard Rodriguez was able to do so, and was then offered a teaching position at Yale University, he certainly began to question how he got to the position he had achieved.

Rodriguez directly attributed his education with his Mexican-American heritage, and the program of Affirmative Action in particular. He cites the program for his acceptance into all his educational institutions, as well as the major reason for his prestigious job offer. This is a very interesting perspective from someone who clearly had to work very hard, Affirmative Action or not, to achieve what he has.

Rodriguez remembers feeling a sense of guilt throughout the entire process, however. Calling the Affirmative Action program “ironic”, he cites his own success due to privilege–exactly what the affirmative action program is made to prevent. He is quoted as saying “A few times I quietly wondered what advantage my race had given me over other applicants”. He even goes so far as to claim that he clearly had an unfair advantage over white students.

The implications for a recipient of an Affirmative Action Program, considering Richard Rodriguez’s comments as an actual recipient, are very far reaching. It can lead to resentment among Affirmative Action recipients, both on the interior and exterior. It can foster resentment among white students who feel more “deserving”, and it lends itself to self-doubt.

Although the Affirmative Action program is helpful overall, it is also ironic that it fosters the same behavior it was set to prevent. Indirectly, as the author fails to mention Affirmative Action explicitly, Heidi Julavits explores a different perspective from travels in an unfamiliar place. Ms. Julavits seems to find solace in almost every experience.

A Buddhist as herself lends her to view the world the way she does, but her ability to find contentment in both Japan and the United States, with or without a companion, is absolutely inspiring. A perfect example is her description of a dessert she was eating while in Kyoto, Japan: “While eating a bean cake I reach a moment when I don’t need, or want, another bite. I experience what I believe is contentment…and despite what my layman’s notion of Zen Buddhist nongoal goals lead me to expect, it is no blissfest.”.

This shows her freedom from concrete things, but also her acknowledgement of its difficulty. Looking back and taking Richard Rodriguez into consideration, there are also overtones of this in his essay.

Overall, human search for contentment is age-old. Whether it is through assimilation or privilege, Heidi Julavits’ religious views perhaps wrap-up these two situations in the best way possible: Buddhism advocates the absence of a “why”, with a push towards the “what”, or the “what now”. Applying this principle to Mr. Rodriguez and other beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, these views on life can prove to find them solace.

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