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Why are we afraid of this Virgen in San Antonio, Texas?

In San Antonio, this rendering of La Virgen de Guadalupe by the artist Anna-Marie Lopez was censured - though these days we don't use that word -there's too much terrorism in it - at the Centro Cultural Aztlan, a Kool-Folk Chicana/o institution on the fast-track to mainstream inclusion in this town.

I admire Centro Cultural and all the people connected with it - but - we need this Virgen. Look at her:
She's naked, a serpent wraps her body, she's behind barbed-wire, and her jewelry is a ruby-red human heart. It seems to me that she's a woman of the times, evoking an imprisoned, marginalized, suffering, loving, woman, whose power is seen but not realized.

"They missed the point," says Lopez, who barely gets by on her disability paychecks, and who created this piece after much research especially for the Guadalupana exhibit. "At this time, people are scared of us," she said, referring to the post-9/11 world and subsequent immigrant-bashing. "…

San Antonio and the War: It enriches us, it owns us, it orders us

San Antonio, Texas is the most soulful city in the state, we're a haunted city with the Alamo, the ghosts that wander around it at night, and a river, now over-developed and touristized, but a river nevertheless that haunts the memory of the descendants of the people who have been here since before the Alamo...

So many wars and battles here, the Alamo itself is the centerpiece of its glorification, and the modern-day equivalents are the four bases here.True to San Antonio, and the magical world of paradox we embody, is the irony of how it's been the military that's taken so many latinos into middle-class life. The textbook case is Henry Cisneros, whose late father was a colonel, and Henry himself was in the ROTC at Texas A&M, where he graduated from college.

San Antonio was defined by a war, the Texas Revolution, and continues to serve the interests of the military-industrial complex. The San Antonio Express-News, Hearst-owned, gives us stories every day it seems, abo…

Christmas in San Antonio

Outside my window this Christmas morning, I see my neighbor's children and grandchildren arrive from the suburbs to share their traditional tamales, everybody bringing bags of presents, smelling of new colognes and soap. One of the daughters-in-law is pregnant, and her new leather coat is wrapped tightly around her pansa.

As usual, I'm just watching, there's probably something wrong with me because I just like to look, admire, and write about Christmas.

Christmas always makes me feel weird. There is nothing sweeter than seeing las familias coming together like this, and I can feel their love for each other all the way to my upstairs apartment. It reminds me when I was married, and my ex-husband's family had their Christmas-frenzy on, lots of wato and Santa Claus-dressing, a buffet of food, teenagers trading secrets, scrabble boards opening up, football blaring on the television, and children crying because they're overwhelmed, I guess.

One year I tried to get my ve…

Ciro Rodriguez Wins: The San Antonio Express-News Loses

In case you didn't read it, the SAEN yesterday endorsed Congressman Henry Bonilla (R) despite having nothing good to say about him. It was weird, and it took the queque for bad editorials among zillions served. The editorial clumsily attempted to find something negative about Ciro Rodriguez (D), a progressive congressman who was a victim of Tom De Lay's redistricting tactics that were overturned by the Supreme Court. And tried to put the fear of God in us by suggesting we'd risk gaining a military medical center, yea right. Like we don't know the difference between good and bad pork. The SAEN never even attempted to closely examine the candidates as people, their ideals, their achievements, their failures, etc. etc. etc. Porque you ask? Because they know Bonilla stinks, but the newspaper, like all the media in San Antonio, wants this war, wants its profits, and to hell with the soldiers dying over there. Keep us poor, keep us fat, keep us ignorant, that'…

Media Watchate! The San Antonio Express-News loves ClearChannel and won't publish this letter

If you barely listen to our local radio stations anymore, you know it's because of ClearChanneland the media acquisitions that happened after the Republicans took the lid off media regulation - now we have media Deregulation - so much for local ownership and diverse voices. It's all about the money.

We, the people, deserve local radio, television and radio stations that are vitally interested and accountable to us. We get way too much ambulance, sex, and gossip, and all of us lose because there is no place to debate, discuss, get educated about the stories that affect our lives.

That's the way Big Media wants it.

Chuck Robinson is a media advocate and former television intern. Here is a letter he wrote to the SAEN regarding their anemic reporting of a new, smart, report on How Bigger Media Will Hurt Texas: A Report on Texas Media Markets and the Impact of Newspaper/TV Cross-Ownership Mergers, funded by national media reform organizations and written by Mark Cooper of McGa…

When a Tejano star is a rapist

Que bueno que Tejano star Joe Lopez, 56, the former lead singer of Grupo Mazz, and now lead singer of the band Joe Lopez y La Nueva Imagen Mazz, got convicted and sentenced to twenty years for raping his then-13 year-old niece.

I know there are men out there - and some women - who will say that this young girl deserved it, that she must have seduced him, that she wanted money, that she's pura slut, etc. etc. etc.

Bullshit. No woman deserves getting raped, I know so many who have. One of four women is raped - at some time in our lives.

We get raped by our fathers, brothers, cousins. On a first date in high school, or college. Or by a complete stranger walking home from work or school.

And yes, it almost happened to me in college. I fought my date off, a guy I'd been seeing for about a month and trusted.

Understand something. A woman's desire is healthy and vital. It is not an invitation to be raped, to be touched in any way without her permission. There are women who…

Senator Kerry was right: 94 brown Texas soldiers have died so far

From my count, 94 brown Texan soldiers have died in Iraq so far because they were uneducated and ambitious. Let's get real, Senator Kerry was right by botching the joke -if our young people had a chance at a good education and a way to go to college, they wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place.

At least 55 of the 94 are from SouthTexas.

The recruiters and the mainstream media pay attention to our soldiers - making them believe they're special. And they are special, they have dreams, hope, all they want is a chance. But they're being used for the dreams and ambitions of our leaders who don't send their own children to Iraq. Medals, handshakes, thankyous, a little money - that's alot of cheap reward. If our government really believed in these young people, they'd put the real money in education. But that's too expensive, not when the wealthy in this country are getting more taxbreaks.

***************************************************

Do you kn…

Bob Rivard, Editor of the San Antonio Express-News, threatens the Esperanza Center because of my blog

On Friday, October 6, Bob Rivard, the Executive Editor of the San Antonio
Express-News, the only major newspaper in San Antonio, sent an email to
Graciela Sanchez, the director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, one
of the most vanguard arts and cultural centers in the country, based in
San Antonio. In this letter, he threatens to deny media coverage to the Center
because of my blog. And while the email has a subject heading titled
"A Private Communication," the CC line includes all the editors
of the newspaper, see below:

CC: "Thacker, Brett"
"Bertling, Terry"
"Richter,Bob"
"Thomason, Craig"
"Garcia, Guillermo"
"Davidson, Bruce"

I am not a staffmember of the Esperanza Center, but a consultant. I've
responded to Graciela Sanchez, explaining that with this letter, Rivard
violates all standards of ethical journalism and shows a tyrannical
disrespect for free speech.

Here is the letter from Rivard in its entirety:

Hi G…

Want Peace? Imagine Grief: Part 2

Watch the videoCarlos Arredondo’s oldest son, LCPL Alexander S. Arredondo, died in Iraq on August 25, 2004. He was twenty years old. Carlos Arredondo has been on a national tour protesting the war. His other son, Brian, is currently being recruited by the Marines. Listen to his and others’ stories at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center on Saturday, September 30, 2006, at 7pm. The Esperanza is located at 922 San Pedro in San Antonio.
Tel 210.228.0201Produced by 411 ProductionsMusic by WillieJ

Want Peace? Imagine War: Part 1

Watch the videoKyle Qubrosi lost his father in war. But he doesn’t want revenge. Listen to his and others’ stories at the Esperanza Center on Saturday, September 30, 2006, at 7pm. The Esperanza is located at 922 San Pedro, one-half mile from the downtown library. Admission is free. 210.228.0201

His son died in Iraq. Mijito, mijito, mijito...

Imagine the suffering. Imagine the grief. Imagine the heart.
I remember the war in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the contra scandal, the weapons for hostages. Oliver North took the blame for Ronald Reagan. I remember when a bomb blew up in Beirut and kill about 200 Marines. I watch them on the TV, searching for them, carrying the bodies out on stretchers, pieces of them. And what I learned of Vietnam in my country? I never understood what they was fighting for. Costa Rica, it was my home when I was a boy, and we had the same climate, same weather, and I was afraid the United States would someday come to Costa Rica and do the same thing. So, when my son told me at age 17 that he was going to join the service, I said, "Oh, no," and he said, "Don't worry, Dad." His mother knew the whole time. Then they told me last, I guess because they know how I was feeling. The Marines had an office in the high school and the recruiters know everything, know who comes from div…

The media today is about selling us junk and talking us into war

From a media discussion about media that matters held at the Esperanza Center on Wednesday, August 16th, 2006. College students, media activists, and media producers were in the audience.


http://411show.blogspot.com/2006/08/barabara-renaud-gonzales-news-media.html

In San Antonio, Texas, a controversial art exhibit

Watch the videoBecause of this art exhibit, the Esperanza Center was labelled as "anti-semitic" by the San Antonio Express-News.  The Center is hosting a series of programs examining the art, culture, history and people of the middle east, with a special look at the occupation of Palestine. 

The San Antonio Express-News uses the anti-semitism word to sell its newspapers at the cost of peace in the middle east

You know this man in the pic? Yep, this is Robert "Bob" Rivard, Executive Editor of the San Antonio Express-News, presiding like some patron over what remains - of a newspaper.

Yesterday, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center - all feministas - met with him and the editorial board - all white men and one latina editorial writer - to challenge the SAEN's biased coverage of the Esperanza Center's middle east series. The Esperanza Center has been hosting a packed-audience series examining the middle east story - featuring the voices of people you just don't read or hear about in the media. The discussions examine the history, culture, and marginalized peoples of the middle east - including the plight of the Palestinians, who are living under seige.

On August 17, 2006, the SAEN published a front-page story using the word anti-semitism in the headlines,"Claims of Anti-Semitism Fuel City Arts Fund."
The reporter Guillermo X. Garcia quoted Rabbi Block a coupl…

Don't let the San Antonio Express-News lie to you about the War

The San Antonio Express-News, like other newspapers and media outlets around the country, is in lock-step with the public relations campaign of the Pro-Israeli lobby, which has silenced and biased our understanding of Palestine. Why? So that we won't understand that we don't have to be at war in the middle east. So that we won't understand the history, the culture, the humanity of the middle east. So that we won't understand Jews have many voices, not just one - for war.

Why is the media so biased? Because it's the governments - not the people - of Israel and the United States - that want war in the middle east, no matter the cost.

Because peace is possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1O8il0AxSI
Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land - Google Video
http://www.indybay.org/olduploads/short.empire.jeff.mov

Artistic credit: Pachuco, by Adan Hernandez

Jerry Pittman: The Worst Cop, but there's more in San Antonio

Part II of the Pittman Story(click here for Part I of the story of San Antonio's badddddest cop)

But let’s go back to the beginning of Pittman’s triumphant arc as a black role model, endorsed by white leaders and officially commended by the state’s black legislators.If you were a black nobody cop in the seventies, well, what would it take for you to get promoted?You’d have to be Superman, wouldn’t you?And in a city that sells itself on a myth of cultural fusion, then who would you arrest if you wanted a chance at getting promoted? Hmmmmm?His name was Big House.Real name, Willis Sterling, and he was one of those benevolent drug-dealer types, who’d get arrested, make bond, then go home to the Eastside in the 1980s. A non-violent man. “He was like a modern-day Robin Hood,” says T.C. Calvert, a well-known community activist who doesn’t do drugs himself, only hamburgers.He was so well-liked, say my elder sources, that all sorts of politicians liked hanging out at his place, a two-story …

A LETTER TO THE GUADALUPE CULTURAL CENTER FROM THE WOMEN OF MALCS

August 21, 2006Juan Aguilera, Chair
Board of Directors
Guadalupe Cultural ArtsCenter
1300 Guadalupe Street
San Antonio, TX78207Dear Mr. Aguilera and Board
of the Guadalupe Cultural ArtsCenter:
The San Antonio chapter of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), an organization comprised of women form the San Antonio community who care about what happens in our city, our state, our nation and our world, present to the Board of The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and to interested parties, our concern over the recent termination of employment of over 10 women from the Guadalupe Center.MALCS is a national association comprised of Chicanas, Latinas and Native American women who advocate and support women’s issues and concerns at all levels, from grassroots community venues to academic scholarly ones.As long-time supporters of the GuadalupeCulturalArtsCenter, we are dismayed at the lack of procedural and civil processes by the women were treated. Because we care deeply about what happe…

Why the San Antonio Express-News wants to sell you the war

Newspapers are about making money these days, punto. And they are paying dearly for it, as la raza stops reading them because we see through the bias, the patronizing (16 de septiembre!) and the lack of respect for our community.

At the Dallas Morning News, reporters are being asked to leave in droves because of the decline in readership. A readership the newspapers caused by not educating the city. I maintain that If they had gone the way of fair and balanced journalism - critical to educating us about poverty, crime, the schools, health, etc., the audience they so desperately need now would be able I trto read the paper. I used to tell them this when I was there - and all I getting my butt kicked out of the editorial boardroom.

It's going to happen here in San Antonio, and if you try to read the paper, you know how weak it is, and I"m being nice. There is so much to report in this city, and it doesn't happen.

Yesterday, the Sunday San Antonio Express-News ran a co…

True Story: Los Kittens on Calavera Street

On Buena Vista and Calavera Street on San Antonio's Westside, there is a house.

It's a casa arreglada from the outside, those candy-colors we love, Christmas and Easter decorations all-year round.
In that yard, surrounded by a fence, there are kittens.

Last year, a kitten was hit by a car, and dragged itself around for three months. Another was so infested with fleas and parasites that an eye was falling out.

When I told la senora, says Maria Ramirez who is a housekeeper by day and santa gatera by night, she said
"que bueno que se muera."

Maria says that la senora isn't interested in getting the cats fixed or feeding them. She called me last Wednesday night, emergency, she said. Did I have room for two kittens? She found them in the street, somehow escaping from the pretty house with the painted fence.

Both gatitos were white, tiny, barely mewing. The smallest one almost fainted when Maria tried to give it some milk. The bigger one was gurgling for air, and both …

True Story: Censorship at the San Antonio Public Library

Some of you may know John Stanford, an elder who has a Supreme Court Case named after him - fighting censorship in the sixties. Last week, Mr. Stanford, as usual, went to the San Antonio Public Library downtown to distribute the People's Weekly World, a communist newspaper.

This time, Elizabeth Bermel, the Central Library Administrator, sent him an email on Tuesday, August 15th, from the Library's server, denying the publication's distribution at the library. Here's what she said:

"Multiple copies of your newspaper, People's Weekly World, have been appearing at the Central Library of the San Antonio Public Library. As the Central Library Adminstrator, I am responsible for approving all materials for free distribution at the Central Library, and People's Weekly World does not meet the Library's criteria."

I guess she's been taking notes from the Incarnate Word University's Librarian recently, who banned the New York Times because he didn&#…

Bloody Towels & Jerry Joe Pittman, Asst. Police Chief of San Antonio

Assistant Chief Jerry Pittman has called the San Antonio Observer, San Antonio's leading Black newspaper, to say that he's human, that he's made a mistake. But I suspect he's thinking twice about retiring, because he needs another year to get his full pension.


He’s scary
.When I first saw Asst. Chief Jerry Pittman en persona, San Antonio’s highest-ranking black cop, and certainly most-controversial, my gut talked to me.I was at Pittman’s press conference downtown, orchestrated by the most expensive public relations firm in town, Connolly & Company, on March 11, 05, where he announced his exoneration from rape allegations brought by his step-niece, a 39 year-old working-class, black, woman. Chief Pittman, a 6’5” blue-black brother, with bullets instead of eyes, would’ve shot me if he could that day because of my questions, while the rest of the media kissed his grits.Look, I’m a middle-aged woman who trusts her intuition about men, and I know what I feel.But - I’m a…

The Guadalupe Cultural Center/The Chisme-mill says Cachetadas happened, what do you think?

According to sources who ask to remain confidential, there is speculation that Cynthia Langston, the Guadalupe Center's Development Director, may have left her position as a result of an altercation there last week with a TCA Offical. Ms. Gage McElwain, Director of Marketing for the TCA, denies that any altercation or slapping occurred on their site visit last Wednesday.

My reliable sources say that governmental agencies are intensely private about sensitive issues like this, insisting that something did happen. More on this later.

What will you be at 96 years old? Will it rain?

The following is a true story from Maria Antonietta Berriozabal, a former city councilwoman in San Antonio, Texas, highly respected for her integrity, dignity, and spirituality.On Sunday, August 6th, 2006, she wrote:
Today was my mother's 96th birthday.At lunch I asked her how it felt being 96. For the past few days we had to remind her every day that her birthday was coming and she asked how old she was. Today in response she quickly replied: "No me gusta porque no llueve." And she said no more. We thought that was quite a response. Who knows where those thoughts came from. However, at about 5 today it started to rain. When you know my mom's story it makes a lot of sense. She was raised in the country and worked in the fields for most of her youth. Because of her interest in reading the sky and what messages it gave her she became a really good meteorologist. We could always depend on my mom on whether to take a coat a sweater or a raincoat as we left in the morn…

A Chicana understands Palestine, and the wars that follow

My family's 20,000 acres were stolen from us after the U.S. Mexican War.

And before that, we had taken it from someone else - the Native Americans. As my mexicana mother always said, the land is to be shared. Otherwise, you have war.

Today, the Palestinian people are under seige, as Israel forgets the lessons of suffering. The lessons of loss.

Israel refuses to share, fearing the other. Believing that the only way to live is for one to dominate over the other.

Sound familiar?

Peace, Propaganda & The Promised Land - Google Video http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7828123714384920696

Photo Credit: Windows, by Carly Garza, Say Si Students, San Antonio, Texas
www.://www..safotofestival.com

I am Lebanese-American/The Story of Nadine Saliba

I am Lebanese-American. I am part of what is known in Lebanon a the war generation - because we were born with the outbreak of the war and we came of age during its fifteen long years. Growing up, we did not know our country except at war. We did not get to enjoy its beauty and prosperity during its more peaceful days. Needless to say, this experience shaped me in many ways. I was politicized from an early age and so were most people around me. War and politics served as the ever-present background to our lives, its imprint on our consciousness undeniable.

We talked politics, we thought politics. Our childhood and innocence were stolen from us. War and the news of war haunted our daily existence.



To Be Continued

Nadine Saliba, born and raised in Lebanon, attended the University of Beirut. She immigrated to San Antonio, Texas in 1993, receiving a B.A. in Political Science from UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio), and an MA from the University of Massacusetts at Amherst in P…

On the hottest day in San Antonio, the Arab community protests U.S. /Israel Oppression

As a Chicana who's family lost their land in Texas after the U.S./Mexican War, I've always sympathized with the Palestinians whose land was taken from them in order to create the nation of Israel, as refugees of the holocaust after World War II. But I'd never understood how the Israeli government, with billions of dollars in U.S. funding and support, is at the "center" of the middle east crisis, the tragedy of the Palestinian people, and ultimately, the unraveling of anger, protest and resistance that is the prelude to terrorism.

The story of the middle east deserves to be understood if we are to understand why the U.S. government invaded Iraq, after embarking on its empire-loaded revenge against Afghanistan for 9/11.

In San Antonio, Texas, the media is not telling the true story of the middle east. Today, in the afternoon of the hottest day of the summer, 101 degrees, about 200 people, representing the diversity of the Arab-American community, protested the inva…

Mijito: You are not a Hero if you go to War

While the news media in San Antonio, Texas - surrounded by four military bases and a complacent, right-wing Catholic Church - continues to dance to the drums of war - it is time for us who lived through Vietnam to tell our mijitas and mijitas that heroism isn't the ability to follow orders and kill people. A hero is someone who has the courage to stand up and confront the monstrous culture of war in this country.

I should have written this story a long time ago, and I'm sorry I didn't. I thought my friends in the media would surely report the protests against the war, interview those of us who question it loudly, survey the leaders who hypocritically support the war while their own children are safely going to college here, report on the way that the military is invading the public schools and last year's national LULAC conference - looking for fresh meat. And I've been searching for the personal, intimate, stories of suffering, whether it's in Iraq, Afgh…