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Showing posts from April, 2006

Machos, my little kings, and why las mujeres have to lead the Immigrant Rights Movement

My mother, Marina, crossed the border with a second-grade education, and saw almost all eight of her children born here finish college. Big mistake: She spoiled my brothers, those little kings of hers, who worshipped her too, awed by how she raised them on her minimum-wage jobs. Now middle-aged, they struggle with their double standards, treating most women, including me, with scorn and contempt. Though they've become expert at hiding it.

It is a well-known secret that the elders of the Chicano movement, and even the late Henry B. Gonzalez himself, the great Congressman from San Antonio, father of today's Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, were, how to put this nicely, dominating men. They must've had mothers like mine. These hombres fought hard for us to be equal, but weren't very equal at home or in the office. The Immigrant Rights Movement has the potential to transform this country with a whole nation of people who know what injustice feels like, but first, we wi…

Guadalupe in Crisis: What about the BookFair?

San Antonio is a poor city, verdad?
But the stories, told in our
language,del hueso, are muy
rich,and we deserve a BookFair
for the world to hear them. Por
muchos years, the Guadalupe
Cultural Center hosted a
Literary BookFair.
I must've spent a thousand
dollars buying books, y mas.
Here is a memoria from Bryce
Milligan,who was one of the
fuerzas who made it happen.
Part 1




It was a blustery January day in 1980 and I was walking downtown with
my friend Ron Moore after a good morning’s browse at Rosengren’s, that
legendary bookstore behind the Alamo that we were delighted to inhabit
during its final few years. We were lamenting the fact that San Antonio
was a great place to write, but a lousy place to make a living as a
writer. “What we need,” said Ron, “is a first-rate literary magazine.”
Three years later, the first issue of Pax: A Journal for Peace through
Culture appeared. I was the editor, Ron the mu…


The Guadalupe Board must resign. Everybody is saying it. Just not publicly. Porque?

Steve Bailey, a long-time cultural leader, said it to me. He also said it to Elda Silva of the San Antonio Express-News, who's writing a story about the Guadalupe crisis, due out soon.

In fact, if you sit down and talk to the other cultural activistas in town, from the Westside Coalition to the art collectors to the raza professors at UTSA, to the established artists in town, they all say the same thing:

The Guadalupe Board Must Go.

Why don't they say this outloud? The Cultural Leaders are afraid of appearing to gain at the Guadalupe's expense. As much as they would like to get more money from the Office of Cultural Affairs, they don't want to see the Guadalupe collapse. You see, at the rate the Guadalupe is going, there won't be a Guadalupe Center in a couple of years - but the Guadalupe Board is ill-equipped to understand that, harboring fantasies of becoming the Alameda and…

Guadalupe in Crisis: The Last Chapter of a National Story and a Real-Life Telenovela

The Guadalupe Cultural Center has been the nation's premier cultural fountain of latino/chicano culture. Organized and founded by artists twenty-seven years ago, it is now in the hands of a board comprised of professional lawyers, corporate employees, business-types, a professor and a psychologist. The quality of its programming has been suffering since the departure of Pedro Rodriguez, who was at the helm of the institution for fifteen years. Beginning with the hire of Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso, a communications executive, over five years ago, the Guadalupe has become mired in debt, resulting from real estate and public art (the Virgen Veladora) investments, unchecked by boardmembers appointed by the egotistical Torralva-Alonso.

Truth be told, the Guadalupe isn't an artistic institution anymore - all of the artistic directors have been fired/terminated/resigned - except for Belinda Menchaca, in Dance. Marisela Barrera, the Theatre Director, known for creating a vivacious…
Guadalupe in Crisis: Watch/Read How the Board is in Denial
Watch the videoThis is the way that R. Bret Ruiz addresses the audience at the Guadalupe Cultural Center boardmeetings. At the two meetings I've attended, he never looks or smiles at the audience, and just faces the board, so this is what we see of him. On Monday, March 10, 2006, the GCAC Board held an emergency meeting and told the staff that "there was no evidence" of any wrongdoing on the part of R. Bret Ruiz. The Board has been in the news, after Dee Zapata Murff, an employee, accused him of sexual and racial harrassment. My scrutiny of R. Bret Ruiz revealed that he falsified his resume, that he used an employee's credit card (because he couldn't obtain one himself), and that Juan Aguilera, the GCAC's Board Chairman, was warned by Ruiz' former boss (Mauricio Navarro of the Anita R. Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, Texas), that Ruiz was the "worst director" they had ever had.Na…
Guadalupe in Crisis: Why is the theatre empty?
Watch the videoMaria Ibarra, artist, made a passionate plea for answers from the Board of Directors. She also asked them to look at her, at the audience, and to show respeto to the students and parents in attendance.
Guadalupe in Crisis: Where are the Artists?
Watch the videoDavid Zamora Casas, a well-regarded artista and community activist in San Antonio, Texas, remembers the contributions of artists who gave the Guadalupe Center a national stature.

Viva a New America! And hopefully, a civil rights movement: Today's Immigrant March in San Antonio

Watch the video:
5:00 pm A new Civil Rights Movement is born again in San Antonio

Henry Cisneros made a stirring speech, from what I saw on television later. I didn't hear it, but I know that his grandfather came here escaping the Mexican Revolution. Other speakers included Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, Sarwat Hussein, a Muslim leader, Tommy Calvert, a rising Black leader, former councilwoman Maria Antonietta Berriozabal, UTSA student leaders, Araceli Hernandez, a mexicana immigrant and organizer who cleans houses for a living, and many others.

Milam Park, in downtown San Antonio, is across from the famed "Market Square" where the rally was held, and it used to be called La Plaza del Zacate when Henry's grandfather arrived. It was the grassy plaza where the Mexicans congregated, selling produce and goods, and where the legendary Lydia Mendoza began her singing career.

Here, surrounded by thousands of people wearing white shirts and tees like frosting on the ice-cream of …

Why I'm going to the Immigrant March on Monday, April 10

My mother crossed the border, sin papeles. I'm writing a novela about why she came to el norte and her journey here and my journey back.

My story is a common one. On one side: a father whose family has been here since before the Texas Revolution - in other words, I'm qualified to be one of those "Daughters of the Alamo." But who wants that? On the other side: a Mexican family left behind, a rancho, ancestors, religion, memorias.

We latinos are the memory made flesh that this country wants to forget. The tragic past and the inevitable future at the same time. The leaders of this country are afraid of both. I'm marching on Monday because it's what my mother, Marina Hernandez Renaud, now passed, would have done. She's the one who taught me Spanish, told me stories about her Mexico every single day, and most of all, showed me, from the way she cooked her beans to the way she shared her food to the braceros working in the fields where my father was a fo…

Eleven Police Cars at Kazen Middle School to Prevent a Walkout

Scared and upset, teachers are reporting that eleven school police cars - they carry guns these days - are at Kazen Middle School on the southside of San Antonio.

Kazen Middle School is located near Palo Alto College, and my sources believe that principal Steven Deazey has likely ordered this show of force to "asustar" the students, preventing them from the possibility of a Walkout.

Yesterday, the teachers were told to "let them out," referring to purported rumors that students were going to leave the school in response to pending immigration reform debates in Congress, and likely, hearing about walkout at high schools throughout San Antonio. Many of the students at Kazen Middle School have immigrant parents.

Today, however, the morning PA announcement relayed to the students that any student leaving the school would go to court and face a $250 fine.

The teachers say the heavy police presence seems to be a singular action on the part of Principal Deazey, because the…

Jefferson High School Walks Out Again

Today is the second day I've watched the high school students at Jefferson High School walkout. It's hard to miss from my window, with all the gritos of "Viva la Raza!" exhuberance - along with two police cars trailing behind them on the lane of expensive homes on Donaldson Street. It looked to be about 60 students or so, dressed in their regulation khaki pants with red or white polo shirts and sweaters - a patriotic rumble with the occasional blue windbreaker.

Jefferson High School, I believe, is the oldest high school in Texas. It's a gorgeous Spanish colonial estate, with a Moorish dome, archways, mosaic tile, and I've been told it was a country club back in the day. That's in the days of segregation, when students like the ones marching today weren't permitted in the exclusive district next to the barrio where I live. After desegregation, everything changed, of course, and now few of the upper-class latino parents send their children to Jeff…
Guadalupe in Crisis: Boardmember Gwendolyn Diaz says Board is Responsible
Watch the videoGwendolyn Diaz, Ph.D, a St. Mary's University professor, and active in Latina literary circles, got emotional about the Guadalupe. She was the only boardmember who was willing to talk to me. She was very agitated later as I watched her speak at the Board's Executive Session, though I couldn't hear what she was saying.

Walkouts: At Roosevelt High School , Students Wave Flags

Friday, March 31st.
All is not lost for the Texan youth, I was driving down Walzem during lunch
and saw the streets filled with young kids at Roosevelt High School. They were
waving Mexican and American flags and cars were honking. I think what the Right-wing doesn't realize is that through their irrational and racist idealogy
they are radicalizing a generation of young Chicanos and Chicanas. They done
f'd up and made a generation of politically aware students who are learning to
organize and protest. Its a beautiful day and these are beautiful times.

-in solidarity always Ricardo (last name withheld because I don't have his permission)