I was a sophomore in high school. Mom was headed to a Spirit & Place Festival event called “The Hispanic Immigrant in American Culture.” I tagged along, hoping to snag some culture credits for my Spanish class. Richard Rodriguez was the sole presenter and his words changed me.
I learned quite a bit from Richard Rodriguez. He taught me to question our cultural obsession with labeling identity. His words deepened my interest in the realities of race and racism in the United States. His book Brown: The Last Discovery of America informed an essay I later wrote on the need for better education on racism in the classroom. That book still sits on my shelf, seven years later.
But most of all, I remember the words he shared with just me.
“Tell your story and send it to me.”
His words linger in the back of my mind. I think about them often. What is my story? How do I understand myself? Richard Rodriguez taught me that my story is worthy, that I am worthy. What a gift. The belief that all stories are worthy underpins all that I do. In case someone hasn’t told you yet, know that your story is also worthy. You are worthy.
Ruth Hinkle is an almost graduate of IUPUI who dreams of writing stories worth sharing. Have you been inspired, challenged, or transformed by Spirit & Place? Share your story here.