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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 column by Mr. Nickel and Dime Roddy Stinson, (not gonna link it - doesn't matter), a man who gets a nice fat check for his conservative columns and who's known for catching the donut-eating city employees sleeping on the job. While he lets the real estate developers and the polluters and the abuse of big power take the whole donut box.

This time he attacked the Esperanza Center, one of the country's most vanguard arts and cultural organizations. Roddy doesn't like them because of their politics - and though he attacked them some years ago in a virulent column about their "homosexual agenda," and the use of city funds, the Esperanza sued the city, winning in federal court - and in the process became nationally-known and recognized.

I helped the organization at that time, when people were working around the clock for years - that's what it takes to fight back prejudice and hate. Five female lawyers, led by Amy Kastely gave their time pro bono, and later, Judge Orlando Garcia himself told me that Kastely was brilliant. The Esperanza won on all four counts - first amendment and protected speech.

Now the Esperanza, approaching its 20th anniversary, has embarked on a middle east series - examining the conflicts in that part of that world as they seek to understand the war, terrorism, and what it takes to make lasting peace.

This is too much for the San Antonio Express-News. Though they were treated to every sort of invitation and information regarding the middle east series, they could not or would not convey the series to you, its readers. And, in the most flagrant abuse of journalism I've ever seen, the SAEN allowed Stinson to rant and rave - without context, balance, perspective, or giving the Esperanza equal time and coverage, a chance to respond.

The San Antonio Express-News wants to cram this war down our throat. If you polled the executive's children, I doubt any of them are in Iraq. I suspect that finally the SAEN doesn't care if we don't read the paper, as long as we look at the ads. And shop. And send our children to war to safeguard the oilfields, keep on eye on the stability of that oil via Israel, and keep us in fear of "others" so that we vote to keep the rich, richer, believing their lies.

I think that the SAEN hopes that if they publish enough stories about soldiers as heroes, soldiers getting medals, brave soldiers whose high schools have framed their photos in a wall of honor, then we will keep sending our most innocent men (warning: tragic and explicit material) and women to a war that has no ending. Because Roddy Stinson and the powerful interests behind the SAEN don't want us to know the beginning.

Even if their children and grandchildren will suffer from a world at war, a hot planet, and the inevitable fall of an empire that used to be a democracy.


ladela24o said…
Well this is an interesting combination of stories, Barbara. You are rapping on the SAEN and yet the Esperanza's Voz is pretty much a study in the same myopia. Where were the articles about the Guadalupe when the mysoginist ED summarily fired or pushed out 10 Chicanas? but wait! weren't some of those women also run off from the Esperanza? haven't the productions that these talented women created been taken outside of SA because there is no support for them? what with the Esperanza turning its back on them and a woman hating director at the 'Lupe what choice did they have? We all know that these are not unstable or unprepared women. No. Son mujeres con talento y son mas educadas que Graciela. Perhaps the problem is that they are too smart. Too smart to shut up when the employees at Esperanza are paid much less than minimum wage,or paid late or not at all, when employees without questions are favored or when volunteers with a brain and spine are shut out. The attitude of the "leadership" (I use the term loosely)is quietly discussed all over town but like the naked emperor no one addresses it. To do so invites the so called activist crowd to point fingers instead of responding to the accusations. How the hell many times have I heard about the Symphony going broke and being rescued. Uh, folks didn't your mama tell you that one wrong doesn't make a right? So, Barbara, who exactly does the Esperanza think will defend them this time? The talented women who are struggling to make a living since Graciela cut them loose? the women who have had to leave town since Graciela tired of their talent? the women who are on the road selling their performances because they didn't dance to Ms. Bojangles' tunes? or perhaps the women who were forced to have fundraisers at homes in order to get money to leave town? better yet, the volunteers or groups who have tired of having donated time and money only to be pushed aside when a rich gringa comes through?Haber, quienes? lo que pasa es que Graciela necesita dejar La Esperanza para que nuevas ideas puedan reviver el lugar. We solicit a person who has broad local and regional connections to other perons or groups who are interested in making change, not becoming the status quo. It is not enough to criticize the SAEN for attacking the Esperanza. As long as the arts continue to receive city funding they will continue to dance to the tune of what is politically safe because that is the price of that money.
Ladela, thanks for commenting. I wrote for lots of weeks about the Guadalupe, look in the archives, I went after Ruiz. This posting is about the middle east and the SAEN - the Esperanza is the messenger here. I've never been one to be only of the tribe, but I love the tribe, too. I've written in the Progressive about the Chicano! exhibit, and took on Pittman recently in the Observer. I try, and I will. I can't be the only one. What's keeping you from writing the story? andale!
ladela24o said…
Yes, Barbara you have been out there with the story about the GCCA but La Voz has not. Although lots of people read your blog, many more do not have access to internet. Newspapers have the ability to be passed to other people and the message gets out. Even the SAEN covered the Guadalupe. My criticism of the Esperanza is that they have failed to take a stand against mistreatment of Chicanas and have in fact, practiced it themselves. You may not be of the tribe but the tribe has many members. Wrong is wrong and ethnicity is no excuse.I also contend that state, or governmental funding, causes self imposed censorship.
As far as the SAEN promoting war, hell yes it does. This town is full of military mania. During the Vietnam war fathers told me to my face that they preferred to send their sons to 'Nam than to lose their jobs at Kelly. Oh sure we hear about the military being spit upon when they returned...stories by the way that are not true...but who told the stories about these bastard men who willingly sent their sons to war for a paycheck? no one wants the war but few will speak against it. WSan Antonio has one of the HIGHEST levels of adult illiteracy in this nation. If the adults in this community would and could read articles in say The New Yorker or The Atlantic and understand all of the reasons why this nation has been actively killing women, children and innocent men, then perhaps people would question the war. Last Sunday at church the priest said that the war is discussed everywhere but church. Not even the religious take a stand against the war! No, we just merrily continue our Saturday pachangas while bombs with USA on them pelt civilians throughout the Mideast.
You are correct about writing the story though. There is a strong need for an independent rag that will tell it like it is.
unavoz said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
unavoz said…
I agree that there is a need for an independent "rag" to tell it how it really is. It is true that Graciela Sanchez is just as guilty as el Presidente of the Guadalupe. She not only fired the very talented and educated women from her staff, she too contested their un-employment benefits (at Christmas time no less) just like Ruiz has contested the uemployment benefits of the women he fired.
Is this what it means to be Buena Gente? Many a volunteer has left the Esperanza tired, angry and confused, women who believed in the mission of the Esperanza only to discover that Todos Somos Esperanza means Todos somos lo que Graciela wants and then when you fall from her grace you are SILENCED. The only justice at the Peace and Justice center is "Just Us"...those that agree con ella and if you dare to "challenge" her you are OUT.
Last night many of these women came together to say farewell to la Vicki Grise and wish her well on her new journey to Califas. Vicki pointed out that the large group that had come together had a common thread and that thread was that we had all met at the Esperanza, that we all left feeling used, we all left angry and disenchanted with the Esperanza and the Guadalupe. Many of us will leave this city to continue to develop our educations, some of us have just recently arrived after being gone several years(and find that nothing has changed in this narrow minded town) some of us will stay and work in school systems or universities in San Anto too tired and too dissappointed to contine to try to make a differnce in the non-profit cultural arena, a few of us will continue to fight. Who will write the true story of the Esperanza remains to be seen. There are several women that have threatened to write the truth but none have as of yet. When that story is written (and I believe it will be written) where will it get published? I like the idea of an independent newspaper. Just how that will happen remains to be seen.
If you want the world to change, you must change it. YOU must create your own 501 C-3, YOU must work 24 hours 7 days a week building your own organization, finding the people who will work with you. Do it!!! YOU must sacrifice more than you can imagine. If you think San Antonio is provincial, then change it. Don't expect others to change for you. What is your calling? Answer it. The Esperanza, like the Guadalupe, can't give you the dream job you want. YOU have to create it. I went after the Guadalupe because the women were complaining publicly and in the media. But I believe that the next bookfair or cinemafestival will come from somewhere else. The Guadalupe's status in this city, in this country, is over. YOU create the next Guadalupe. And do better. That's the lesson here. And it does no good for you to vent without using your real name.
unavoz said…
Seems as if we agree about the status of the Guadalupe. It is indeed over. What a shame. My "calling" right now is to heal myself from the abuse I allowed myself to endure, abuse because I dared to believe in something or shall I say somethings and to believe that people are honest and mean what they say when they say it...not at a whim or at their convenience. Used to be your word was all you needed. I learned the hard way that most people are only out to get what they want and they will seduce and manipulate the gullable and innocent to the point of madness. My "calling" is to continue to speak the truth even if it is in this format,(for now) where my name can remain a "secret" because sometimes people don't really want to hear the truth and especially from "certain" people. But trust me I have been very open and all it got me was slapped down and pushed aside as a "crazy"
I also agree that a "new Guadalupe" should be formed by a group of caring individuals, perhaps a group of women artists that really want to help heal this community through the arts. I would love to be part of that group. Someday I hope I can form that group and apply for the 501
C-3. God knows I am not afraid of hard work and working 24/7 if I believe in the cause. The Guadalupe and the Esperanza have "thrown" away so much talent.
Amorcito said…
THE THORNY TRUTH...I am sickened and outraged by the GCAC's treatment of Chicanas, as well as by what appears to be the well-known abuses by the Esperanza Piece of Just-Us Center. What the women in this blog say is true and I totally understand why they don't sign their names. To boot there are right wing racist drones and homophobes in the wings just ready to use whatever they can to wage war for their own sick reasons. But when an institution has burned so many of its own people, so many women, how can it expect the masses to rally around them one more time? Under their current leadership, do these institutions even have a commendable social let alone artistic function in the face of how they mistreat and exploit their employees and their art braceras? Do they have a right to exist without challenging the hypocrisy of their progressive Chican@ mask? The women who have responded here on this blog speak the ugly truth all the same, not because they are traitors but because they cannot witness the lie in silence. They...We, have experienced the abuses and rip-offs in the flesh, en carne propia. No one can tell us it’s not true. These exploitive actions have affected our lives and our health. These abusive Chican@ arts institutions in progressive clothing have damn-well exploited Chicana artists, used them as milk cows to keep themselves paid and the doors to their art changarros open. I am one of those women art braceras whose labor was unpaid by the Esperanza. I had to get a lawyer to represent me just to get my out of pocket expenses, expenses that were incurred by doing work for Graciela Sanchez at her request. Had to get a lawyer just to get Graciela to return my personal belongings. Even with a lawyer, she broke our agreement by keeping my beautiful Santa Barraza painting. What a no-class selfish fraud! Todos Somos my ass. These Chican@ arts presenters use bracera artist laborers like me to keep themselves in the driver's seat by feigning artistic merit, getting themselves funded and then just not paying their artists. Pero no se vale. The $15,000 dollars I estimate are owed to me by the Esperanza from a Ford Foundation grant that was brought in based on my artistic concept and name, I will never see. I was not able to get the money that was rightfully owed to me at the time, because I would have had to return to San Antonio from out of state and pay for a lawyer to litigate and fight to wrench my dough from Graciela's tight fist. After not being paid regularly for some nine months, I was broke and taking any work I could get since this all happened around 9/11. Did Graciela give a shit that she passively-aggressively sent me out the door without paying me despite owing me so much money? Did her Board challenge her bullshit and get me paid? NO. Besides, as we all know, Graciela has her personal brilliant gringa lawyer to do her dirty stuff. I had to pay my lawyer with the pittance of money I recovered. Clearly it will never be a good time to tell these truths. I shut up for the last five years because I didn't want to hurt anyone, even the pinche institution that bled me dry and caused me to get the hell out of San Antonio with empty pockets and ill health. But after reading the truths being said here, and realizing that my silence only contributes to the exploitation of other women, I take heart and strength from the sisters who have acknowledged and had the courage to name and describe the foul deeds they have experienced and witnessed at these so-called progressive arts institutions, and for that I thank you Barbara. You have made a space where some very thorny truths can be spoken, even though you will surely catch hell for this too, my sister. As for the Guadalupe, they merely tried to censor and silence my artistic voice a decade ago. Looking back, by comparison, what the Guadalupe's rude woman-hating director did to me at the time, was a piece of cake compared to the royal rip-off I experienced at Esperanza through Graciela's lack of integrity, envidia and ineptitude, something that her allies, those who have never experienced or seen her behave this way will deny or refuse to see, even if the empress has no clothes. However these allies, have no right to silence those of us who have paid the piper with our blood. And to those who think that burying your heads in the sand to ignore these incredible abuses will make everything ok because they are Chican@s or queer for that matter, if you think you are defending good against evil by remaining silent or by defending Graciela’s progressive are so wrong. You cannot rip people off and then turn around and complain that your funding is in jeopardy because you (oh courageous leader that you are...not) mouth about Peace and Justice in the Middle East. Like Bret (another Yale fraud), Graciela is lucky she hasn't turned into a pinche pillar of salt, considering the lie she lives. These Chican@ arts administrators who are themselves frustrated artists, too frightened to make their own art, instead become arts administrator wonks, so they can control the art, milk the artist cows, make a decent living, pay their house note, collect art, travel around the country posing as leaders and acting as if they represent working-class artistic values and communities, when nothing could be further from the truth. ¿Con qué cara se queja Graciela que la ciudad de San Antonio le quiere quitar el dinero ilegalmente, cuando ella nos ha hecho precisamente lo mismo a mi y a otras mujeres? Qué huevos, la verdad. In the meantime, artists die in poverty, without proper health insurance, without fair payment for their work, let alone their talent, nor respect for their voices in these difficult times. But I bet Graciela has health insurance and a nice historic chante full of art in the trendy part of town. Just remember who helped to pay for it. I would say that for those of us who have been exploited at the Esperanza, Arte es Muerte!
Juana Gallo said…
One huge issue that is getting lost in this discussion is the ethics of using public and yes, private money (because it was not donated to harass people)for the purpose of cheating employees out of their earnings. The non-public sector has worked extremely hard to demonstrate to the community that it can be trusted to do the right thing. Then you have these "largos" take our integrity away. Another point is what is the reason for creating yet another non-profit? It is comparable to the abundance of school districts. How many administrators, buildings, staff, and events can this community sustain? yes, the artists should organize but another non-profit is not the ideal solution. The problem needs to be identified before a solution can be put forward.The problem is ethics. Too many in our community believe that ethics is the responsiblity of "other" people...the government, the church, the gringos, anyone but we as individuals. Where that came from I do not know because our ancestors did not have that attitude. When someone does speak out we are turned upon like young chicks by hyenas. This is not a new behavior either. I personally can tell you that being blackballed in your community is not work means no life.
Having to leave your community because you have the strength to speak up is heartbreaking. Too many talented people do leave this town because of this mass silence. Just look at the lack of ethics in the govt.non-profits like SAHA, Bexar Housing and Parent Child Incorporated, oh and let's not forget the public school systems and not too long ago the City Council. The dirtier you are, the further you go. Despite the look of prosperity times are hard and for those of us who are not "connected" either publishing by our true names or publishing a "rag" is out of the question. Who among us is among the most vulnerable? chicana artists. But don't misunderstand me, revenge will occur because it must. But understand this, once the Guadalupe and the Esperanza come under public scrutiny city funding for the Chicano arts will be a thing of the past.That is the real sin of these people. That our tax dollars will no longer be accessible to us. We already know that too many talented people have gone in many directions to recover...who will take their places? Our loss, their gain. There are already many organizations and groups that will step up, but the harm, big harm, has been done. There are already long term consequences and more will follow.
unavoz said…
Ok..Ok..did ANYONE out there hear the interview on Texas Public Radio? I understand that El Presidente de Guadalupe was interviewed as well as Gwyndolyn Diaz. What really upsets me is that no one bothered to call any of the womyn that have been abused by these two. I would very much like to go on the air and voice my experiences at the Guadalupe. The thing here is that life goes on people move on with their lives. I am really begining to understand your rage "amorcito" and your feelings of betrayal, because that is exactly what happened to you. Who do we turn to how can we learn to trust again and how do we find the strength to create our art again??? Maybe starting a new organization is not the answer but definately holding the organzations accountable is. But does the city government care?? hell no they will believe whatever is being sent on paper. I can assure you that the Guadalupe looked good on the powerpoint they presented to the CAB and even though el marano de Ruiz stood silent when questioned about the EEOC the Guadalupe still got some good scores. I don't know anymore, sometimes I feel like just saying goodbye to San Antonio first the Esperanza, now the Guadalupe and wait Centro will be next......and so much for Chicano Arts...well maybe Blue Star will pick up the pieces.....(que triste)
ladela240 said…
I heard the interview, almost by accident. The script is on the NPR site and is fairly comprehensive. It was taped quite a while ago..I estimate 2 months at least. As usual he skirts (pardon the pun) the questions sayings stuff like "there has always been chisme at the Guadalupe" although at the beginning of the interview he confessed that he knew next to nothing about the center when he applied. How he knows that there has always been chisme is obviously through chisme. I urge those of you who are interested in an interview to contact Yvette Benavides who with her husband, hosts the show. She is a prof at OLLU as most of you know.
Back to the GCAC, el Centro and the Esperanza, each has financial descrepancies or secrets that some of the soured followers know about. No one at Silly Hall seems what can we do to have them fully audited? beats me. am open to suggestions. we can write, we can blog, we can contact the CAB, but no one gives...Those funds could be so much better used with other people and organizations. what a waste!
what does give me hope is that women are speaking up thru this blog and if nothing else the "arts administrators" know that they are being watched. whatever they claim, they ARE reading these entries. so many women cannot be wrong. has anyone noticed...all of the letters to the SAEN are from white people? one day they will figure it out too and then someone will listen to them...because that is still how it is...altho white people are treated REALLY WELL at these Chicano arts centers!

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