"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Wednesday, April 26, 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 will have to educate them about a civil society.

If we don't educate immigrants, and especially the men, we are slitting our own throat. My mother, who suffered throughout her life with my father, knowing injustice after injustice, voted for President Reagan, because Reagan believed in "la familia."

But then my mother was an economic refugee, with no experience in democracy. When I challenged then-Governor George W. Bush in print some years ago, she worried that something might happen to me, shocked at the way I wrote what she said about him around the kitchen table.

But my mother would have proudly marched for immigration reform if she were alive today.

What I'm saying is that the immigrants represent a crossroads for civil rights in this country. They can make this country more democratic, or repeat what we've had in the past. And the kind of leadership we need right now isn't in the Senate. She's too busy cleaning your house.

I'm thinking of a woman like Araceli Hernandez, a housekeeper in San Antonio, who understands that immigrants like her must aim for more than being good citizens, good mothers raising los reyes, who are grateful to belong to the American empire. Who will gladly send their children to war without question. She understands, for example, that the only solution to immigration is liberating Mexico. What does that mean? It means connecting Mexican immigration with the joblessness of a post-NAFTA world, the slavery of a thousand maquiladoras, and the corporate-stepping of politicians on both sides of the border.

Araceli has figured out that globalization is the reason she had to cross the border, and that women are its object and its trash. She is a witness to rape, crime, police brutality, the sickness of pollution, obesity, over-development, the resistance to a living wage, to public education, to abortion rights, to lesbian and gay unions, she has observed, if not articulated, that the world is dominated by the powerful, by men being machos like my brothers who want their chance at being just like them. And there are many other women like her, who represent hope at a sewing machine, in the fields, butchering a chicken, or bathing a child.

I'm telling you all this as the daughter of an "illegal" immigrant whose mother voted for Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

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 music critic.
The magazine was reviewed in the newspaper, discussed on local radio
talk shows, and was generally considered a boon to local culture. But
Rosengren’s was on its last legs, and the Twig was just a tiny shop in
Alamo Heights. The big stores were in the malls and would not deign to
carry a local magazine with poetry and no ads. Pax was publishing
authors like Isaac Singer and Seamus Heaney together with local
writers,getting reviews in places like Bangladesh and London, and not selling
at home. What you need, said Mary, my wife, is a bookfair. Little did
she know that she had just pulled her thumb out of a dike holding back the
The first Pax bookfair was held in 1984 at the New Age School (now the
Circle School) and featured a newly arrived phenomenon ? a Chicana
writer with a published book, Sandra Cisneros. I had just written the
first review anywhere of The House on Mango Street (in the
Express-News), so we invited her to participate. La Sandra was just
Sandra then, and still had a penchant for rollerskating down the halls
of the newly established Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. It was a
no-brainer to combine the necessity of a bookfair with the resources of
the Guadalupe. What we needed was not just a bookfair, but what we
envisioned as a Woodstock of small presses and small press writers.
Notso big, but every bit as revolutionary in intent.

A few months later, using the Guadalupe Theater and a $1,500 grant
from the city, Pax and the Guadalupe put on the First Annual Texas Small
Press Bookfair in February of 1985. It was a gathering of legends in
the making ? Sandra Cisneros, Ricardo Sanchez, Rolando Hinojosa,
Rosemary Catacalos, Naomi Shihab Nye, Angela De Hoyos, Raul Salinas.
One of the highlights of the event was the first-ever presentation of
Ruby Nelda Perez's now famous one-woman show, "A Woman's Work."
Highlights of the second small press fair a year later included
"opening remarks" (two hours long) by Congressman Henry B. González.
One of the writers present was Alurista, who began his reading with a
series of radio-static beeps and the announcement “we are coming to you
del corazón de Aztlan.” The phrase stuck, and has been used as the
theme for more than one fair. Ntosake Shange also read that year, and
electrified the audience with her eroticism. Another highlight was a
no-show. Mexican fabulist and one-time Communist Augusto Monterroso
was prevented by the INS from entering the U.S., despite the heroic efforts
of Congressman González to break through the bureaucratic mess. A
first for the event was a panel discussion on "Texas Mexican Women in
Literature and the Arts" ? a discussion which several scholars have
credited as being the beginning point of their research into this
topic. This was also the instigation for me to create the event that
would materialize a decade later as the Hijas del Quinto Sol Conference
on Latina Literature and Identity, now the Latina Letters conference.
Other directors came and went at the Guadalupe and each shaped the
bookfair ? Rosemary Catacalos renamed it the Inter-American Bookfair,
and focused it on bridging the Rio Grande. Ray Gonzalez added
“Literary Festival” to the title. I came back in 1994 to just keep it going ?
and going. Of all the bookfairs in the country, the Inter-American was
considered the model for its multicultural aspects. Jeff Biggers,
founder of a similar bookfair in Arizona, once wrote that “the
Inter-American is multicultural literature’s ur-bookfair. Larger fairs
and festivals have grown up elsewhere, but everyone acknowledges what
happened in San Antonio.”
When I heard Bill Moyers describe the Dodge Poetry Festival as the
country’s best multicultural literary event, I called him up and said,
“Bill, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Come down here and see
what you’re missing.” In 2000, Moyers was on stage in the Laurie
Auditorium at Trinity University with eight nationally-known poets,
each of a different ethnic background. Even Moyers was impressed.
So here we are at the 15th Annual Inter-American Bookfair (15th since
it was re-named). Many things have come full circle. Back in the
Guadalupe Theater again, and with familiar faces and themes. Tonight
Sandra Cisneros will read from her long-awaited novel, Caramelo.
Sergio Ramirez, former Sandinista revolutionary ? and for many years the
vice-president of Nicaragua ? had no trouble with the INS allowing him
to enter the country. He will read one of his internationally
acclaimed short stories. Chilean-American Jewish Latina poet and human rights
activist Marjorie Agosín will embrace half a dozen cultures at once as
she reads poetry about searching Europe for memories of her
grandmother’s pre-Holocaust childhood.

This time the bookfair has events running for most of November,
featuring sixty-seven writers, hailing from the U.S., Mexico,
Nicaragua, Chile, Cuba, Puerto Rico, in a dozen different locations. Supporting
institutions include every major university and college in San Antonio,
as well as Seguin, plus the Instituto de México, the Jewish Community
Center, and the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. ¡Viva dirversidad!

A major new partnership with the San Antonio Library Foundation will
allow anyone with a library card to get a 50% discount to evening events. As
always, a half dozen new books will debut at the bookfair. This year,
there is even a newly birthed San Antonio literary magazine, Perla.
Pedro Rodriguez, former executive director of the Guadalupe, coined a
word for those of us who have given so many years to the bookfair ?
literatontos, literary fools. So, grr, beep, zzzz, pop, otro vez, los
literatontos are coming to you del corazón de Aztlan. Come on down and
see what the buzz is all about.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


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 getting the hell out of the barrio at the same time.

The art collectors? They don't say anything because they are people who love art, that is how they contribute to the community, by supporting the artists. But "they" have told me how dismayed they are with the Guadalupe Board.

The artistas? Some of them have spoken to me on the record: Cesar Martinez, Adan Hernandez, David Zamora Casas, Alejandro Rodriguez-Diaz, Rolando Briseno. Many others just shake their heads, swearing at Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso, the former executive director, and R. Bret Ruiz.

The gay men? Whaaaaat? The progressive gay men have told me that Ruiz is "old school," meaning anti-woman. The latino gay men say he's anti-raza, anti-barrio, anti-mujeres. They say he's a mess.

The Profesores? They study the Guadalupe Cultural Center, and most hesitate to criticize because of their collegiality with two of the Guadalupe's Board of Directors who haven't taken a stand for the good: Harriet Romo, UTSA professor and long-term Boardmember who hasn't attended a meeting in three years, and who is la esposa de Ricardo Romo, UTSA President; and Gwendolyn Diaz, St. Mary's University professor who is one of the founders of "Latina Letters," which has featured many prominent latina writers in town - writers, I think, who hesitate to anger her.

So here's some of what's going on. Everybody tells me "The Board must Go," many using not very nice words when they say it, words that begin with the letter "P" and ending with "S."

But they say this entre nosotros, because to criticize the Guadalupe is like telling your mother she needs to leave your father. To save the children. Most of us just can't do this. What will la gente say? What will the gringos say about us? Who cares?

What can they say? That we don't have our act together? And they do? Like the symphony?

You know, it's because of all those bookfestivals and cinefestivals and conjunto dancing because of the Guadalupe that I'm saying The Board Must Go outloud. Art is the ultimate power. I want more books, more cine, more musica. Art is a revolution, and dangerous, because of the way it sets us free.

You see, the Guadalupe taught me that I am free. Free! To create, to dance, to love. I am not afraid of what others think. I am more afraid to deny where I came from.

And that - ladies and gentlemen - is what the Guadalupe Cultural Center stands for. Verdad?

photo credit: From the GCAC website, www.guadalupeculturalarts.org, photographer's name not listed

Thursday, April 20, 2006

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 and populist, youthful teatro, will be leaving at the end of June.

The most tragic chapter of this drama isn't how the women of the Guadalupe have been treated. Like Mary Jessie Garza, who has breast cancer, who raised over a million dollars in her four years as Art Education Director then Interim Director, and was summarily fired. Now she has no health insurance, which she needs to continue her treatments. But she's just one of many stories, though hers is the most compelling.

No, the darkest pages are still to be written. And those pages will be about how the artistas and mujeres fuertes of the community - all in debt in some way to the Guadalupe - will defend her. Will they come to La Lupe's aid, or have they decided we don't need her anymore?

Ultimately, the questions about what the Guadalupe means to all of us may just be too difficult to bear, and so we stand by mutely, absorbed in the cultural afterglow of what the Guadalupe created - inclusion in the mainstream, even if it is only superficial and rare. Still, the question haunts: Do we owe anything to the barrio we came from? Can we criticize our own gente in public - whether they be purported feminists (the bleached-hair Republican-leaning elegancia of Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso) or gay men (like the current-closeted Guadalupe president, the Yale graduate, R. Bret Ruiz), or the chato-faced Board Chairman Juan F. Aguilera, who clearly has no taste for chicano art?

In other words, do we have so little still that we settle for less? How much longer, in this day and age, must we circle the wagons around our own, so that we keep imitating the white ideals of power, individualism and superiority?

Or is the Guadalupe larger than all our imperfections, insecurities and small-letter greed and bold-faced shame, that we can come together as a community and save this institution? We need heroes and most importantly - heroines in this drama, who will fire the whole board of directors - con respeto - afuera! and work our rasquache selves to the ground looking for the next La Lupe leader, rehiring the staff, nipping and tucking and apologizing and telling the whole truth and nothing but.

In other words, to save the Guadalupe means we save ourselves. She is our Kennedy Center, isn't she? Our Carnegie Hall?

Well, I believe in the Guadalupe Cultural Center, because I can see my own chata face in each and every character in this drama - the good, the rasquache, and the wannabe - and yes, I know La Lupe is worth saving. La Lupe has taught me that we are beauty itself, just as we are. **************

The following is an Open Letter written by Dolores (Dee) Zapata's Murff, the PR and Marketing Director, who has filed a lawsuit against the Guadalupe Cultural Center for sexual and racial harrassment. The San Antonio Express-News will be publishing an extensive, hopefully an aggressive story - this weekend.

Open Letter from Dee Murff:

I have paid dearly for exposing R. Bret Ruiz as the lying misogynist that he is and continues to be. I have lost my job and income, my marriage deteriorated, and other personal relationships have suffered along the way. One thing that is extremely important for me to point out is that my story is a text book case on sexual harassment and will no doubt be used as one. If I had any advice to offer another individual in my situation I would now warn them to proceed with caution, know that your name will be dragged through the mud, that you will lose those you thought were your friends, possibly your marriage, your wages and eventually you will be judged not as the victim but as the person who blew the whistle and shook things up. And for what? I will tell you why I did it. So that I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I did what I felt in my gut was the right thing on behalf of others who cannot or do not know how to speak up and to keep an institution that I believed needed to be kept alive for our community. I did it so that those children who live nearby can have access to classes and to the latest technology available at the GCAC. I did it so that as elders, we can pass on our rich Chicano traditions. I will not drop the EEOC investigation and after EEOC finds in my favor I intend to sue the Board of Directors. Those individuals must be held responsible for using public money and charitable contributions from corporations to sanction discriminatory and illegal actions by the administration that they have been elected to oversee. It is doubly damning that those on the board are attorneys, accountants, professors and business owners who have the capability to know about federal law and protections for employees. Ultimately, they will be held responsible, as representatives of the organization and as individuals lacking in ethics."


Dolores Zapata Murff

Monday, April 17, 2006

Guadalupe Center in Crisis: Boardmembers don't answer racial and sexual harrassment charges - demand that Murff apologize to Colleen Frost

Guadalupe in Crisis: Watch/Read How the Board is in Denial

Watch the video

This 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.

Navarro told me that Ruiz never raised "a dime" for the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico, but made lots of promises that never came true. He caused many personnel problems, and with parents and students alike. He said that in Dallas, the Anita Martinez Board was "wowed" by Ruiz' credentials, and they just couldn't or didn't want to believe that he wasn't what they had invested in.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Guadalupe in Crisis: Why is the theatre empty?

Watch the video
Maria 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.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Guadalupe in Crisis: Where are the Artists?

Watch the video
David 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.

Monday, April 10, 2006

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 a blue sky, I remember how my architect-friend, Jose Jimenez, bragged about how he took back the Mexican heritage of this park by elaborating a gazebo, installing mosaic tiles, fountains and pedestrian walkways. It was his way of reclaiming the Plaza del Zacate, its original name, rather than its official name for Ben Milam, a defender of the Alamo.

While I was half-listening to the speeches, and looking at the crowd, I ran into a teacher, (name withheld to protect her), who told me that 40 students had protested at Longfellow Middle School last week by refusing to eat their federally-subsidized lunch. These sixth-graders were then prevented from sitting down at the cafeteria and eating, forcing them to eat in the bathroom or not eat at all.

I also heard that Brackenridge High School had chained their doors to prevent their students from walking out last week. The teacher, speaking anonymously, asked me why the media didn't report these incidents.

Then the sea of white shirts seemed to part the blue sky as we began the march to the Federal Courthouse on Durango Street, over half a mile away. But there were also students in their red polo shirt-uniforms, and westsiders and southsiders with Mexican bandanas, an elderly senora with a cane, babies in strollers, and mixed-race couples with the newest generation of
la raza cosmica. I took a photo of three priests together - something I hadn't seen since my days of protesting American military aid to Central America's rightwing military, in the times with the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, an advocate of the poor, was assassinated. Now that was a time with the Church got involved, and in time, the U.S. did pull out of Central America.

I think we're witnessing the birth of this century's civil rights movement. I've been in enough marches to know that once you walk for a cause, you are never the same again. You realize you're not alone, and that you have power. The working-class immigrants, with their Viva Mexico! meshed seamlessly with my Vivan los Pochos!, and their Vivan los Mojados!, made everyone laugh, cheering on my Viva La America Nueva! While the television crews were filming. The police, relaxed, just watched.

They made me remember, and I gave them hope.

But I have plenty of friends, both black and white, who are afraid of illegal immigration. They have watched so much one-sided commentary about it they sound like tin-can echoes of Fox TV: Words spill from their mouth like burned frijoles - crime, welfare, poverty, traitors to American democracy, and even - terrorists.

I know better. And I try to explain.

The thing is, "illegal" immigrants are a people who know injustice, but justice for them has to include justice for all. It has to include free speech, the right to vote, the right to your religion even if it is Muslim and not Catholic, the right of women to an abortion, the right of lesbians and gays to marry, the right to a fair wage, the rights of prisoners, of the homeless, the right to a decent public school. Otherwise, these immigrants, on their way to citizenship, will make economic gains without effecting true social change.

And then this country will be browner, but still be as white as ever. This is the irony that the rightwing doesn't get in their fear of others. And the left leadership doesn't address, maybe because we have so little media power after the years of deregulation and corporate media consolidation.

But now we have a chance, and what are we going to do with it?

Henry Cisneros didn't tell the crowd that he endorsed Alberto Gonzalez, our U.S. Attorney General, despite Gonzalez' disdain for the Geneva Convention, unleashing a wave of torture from Abu Grahib to Guantanamo by American troops. Cisneros, the grandson of immigrants, whose own family suffered the threat of persecution and certainly violence during the Mexican Revolution, is more than willing to suspend civil rights when it comes to other people who look like him, but who speak another language and worship another God.

I'm not afraid that this country will be led by Brown and Blacks people very soon. I know it's gonna happen. I'm afraid that we won't be different than the Whites who are running this country today. The Catholic Church is fostering the marches, that's true, but they have a selfish interest - we are the ones who go to Church these days in large numbers. This kind of Catholic Church, especially like the one in San Anto led by an Opus Dei Archbishop (that's the Spanish inquisition side of the Church) is not one that historically embraces civil rights.

I learned my progressive ways from my mother, who told me stories about injustice all her life as a
mexicana. But I learned in school - the kind of school that was really public, diverse, with plenty of middle-class students - that it took many different civil rights to create social change. That my civil rights as a woman, a minority, a lapsed catolica, were linked to many other civil rights movements of the past.

And I've seen in my life how power corrupts. A latino boss once told me that he wanted his right to be "as corrupt as the gringos." He almost got there.

So becoming "legal" can be liberating - or - if our gente doesn't learn the lessons of democracy - we can be the Pilgrims, only with moustaches next time. I'm being extreme, but you understand,

See, we messed up with Henry Cisneros, but we can't afford to mess up with the other eleven million out there. The 50,000 marching today. We have to be different. We have to remember. We have to learn the lessons of democracy for all, so that the one is protected.

I'm depending on the students to lead this movement, to do a better job than my generation did.

And that's why I marched today, why I'm writing this post and it's past 1:00 in the morning. And it's why I'll march again. And again. And write. And keep writing.

Viva la nueva America!!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

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 foreman - what it means to be mexicana.

Despite all the overt, subtle, and sophisticated discrimination I've experienced in my life, my mother, all five feet of her, would stand up straight and tall while she was making tortillas, listening to Selena or her favorite conjunto, while I told her stories about my own struggles, and she would say:

They are afraid of us. Are you?


monday april 10 2006
5:oo pm Start at Milam Park
(in front of Santa Rosa Hospital @ Santa Rosa St & Commerce)
March to Federal Building
(E. Durango street) where we continue with a rally

Stop H.R. 4437, a dangerous bill that criminalizes immigrants.
For information: esperanza peace & justice center: 210.228.0201 ·
fuerza unida: 210.927.2294 · www.myspace.com/sanantomexa

Supported by:
Benedictine Sisters · Council
on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR) · Catholic
Charities · Centro Cultural
Aztlán · César Chávez
March for Justice · Club de
Estados de Mexico · Comité
en Solidaridad con el Pueblo
de México · Coordinadores
96/2000 · Esperanza Peace
and Justice Center · Food
Not Bombs · Fuerza Unida ·
G.I. Forum · Green Party ·
Inner City Advocates · IUE ·
Mestizos en Marcha ·
MEXA San Anto · Mexican
American Cultural Center ·
Missionary Catechists of
Divine Providence
Congregation · Mujeres
Activas en Letras y Cambio
Social (MALCS) · NAACP,
San Antonio · NAPE ·
National Council of La Raza
· Neighborhoods First
Alliance · NLAC · Pax Christi
· P.I.T.C.H. I.N. (Fox Tech
H.S.) · p e a c e C E N T E R
· Progressive Students
Organization · RAICES · San
Anto Cultural Arts ·
Santuario Sisterfarm · SEIU ·
Siempre United · Soulforce
San Antonio · Southwest
Voter Registration &
Education Project ·
Stonewall Democrats ·
Southwest Workers' Union ·
Texas Fair Trade Coalition ·
Texas Media Empowerment
Project · United Students
Against Sweatshops · United
Students for Fair Trade ·
University Leadership
Initiative · William C.
Velásquez Institute · The
World Can't Wait - Drive out
The Bush Regime!

Friday, April 07, 2006

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 administrators at the school didn't know "it was going to happen."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

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 Jefferson High School, which is fed by the surrounding working-class barrios.

The cops watching the students are probably latinos, just like the principal and teachers. I hope they remember what it's like to be an immigrant. I hope they're teaching the students that the civil rights we have in this country have not come easily or cheaply. And that it's been us, those who have been marginalized, stereotyped, caricaturized, and downright hated - who have made this dream of America come true for all.

It's quiet now, and only the rooster next door is squacking for freedom. I think I'm gonna let him out.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Guadalupe in Crisis: Boardmember Gwendolyn Diaz says Board is Responsible

Watch the video
Gwendolyn 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)