"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

Sunday, September 23, 2007


My father, Robert Renaud, who's now 87, served in World War II for three years. Thank you, Maggie Rivas, Ph.D, for forcing Ken Burns to include men like my father.

Now let's talk about ending The War once and for all.

To do that, we have to remember the lessons.

My father returned to San Perlita, Texas ready to fight anyone who crossed him. He believed himself a better man than those who did not go to
la guerra. To this day, he remembers his first days in the Army, his buddies, his uniform, how to salute, and the bone-breaking explosion of cannon from his driver's seat in the tank.

Daddy used to humiliate my mother because she was mexicana, and didn't speak good English like him. He thought we should bomb Vietnam into a democracy. He scoffed at Martin Luther King, Jr., as a man who "started trouble."

World War II taught my father he belonged. He took on the views of the priviliged, even though he wasn't. But ay, how he wanted to be.

Daddy beat my brother, Jorge Antonio, into a Texas prison, where he is today. He beat me almost daily, and my retarded little brother, Daniel. He couldn't believe Jorge was a genius. He hated the way I challenged him. And Daniel's diaper at six years old embarrassed him.

I love my father, and have tried to forgive him.

The War did not teach my father anything good. He says he fought for democracy, but I never saw him practice it anywhere. The only civil rights he ever wanted was for himself. Because he suffered for this country, I think he believed he would be treated equally by whites.

And that never happened. Sure, he got his medals, his pat on the back, and the false show of respect that so many veterans cling to.

But my father is a defeated man. He believes The War made him a man.

Now that we've proved we Latinos are just as capable of killing others in the name of democracy - a democracy too many men rejected when they returned home after World War II, let's honor them by remembering that War does not make heroes, much less true men.

Heroes stand up for truth and justice. This was not my father.

The Greatest Generation, I hope, is yet to come.

credits: NOAA Black History Month


Saturday, September 22, 2007

This is the Huipil you won't see at the Museo Alameda's "Huipiles: A Celebration:"

This is the kind of woman you're not going to see this in the Huipiles: A Celebration, at the Museo Alameda Smithsonian.

So I'm showing it to you.

Comandanta Ramona, 1959-2006

The world has lost one of those women it requires. Mexico has lost one of the combative women it needs and we, we have lost a piece of our heart,” said sub-comandante Marcos at the time of her death.

An advocate for women’s rights and artisanship, Ramona was the first member of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee (CGRI), the leadership body of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), to have died since their uprising in 1994.

In 1993, Comandanta Ramona, together with Major Ana María, extensively consulted indigenous Zapatista communities (back then, still underground and not public) about the exploitation of women and subsequently penned the Revolutionary Laws of Women. On March 8 of that year, the Revolutionary Laws were passed.

Ramona was a petite, soft-spoken woman charged with significant responsibilities, such as having been entrusted with the military leadership in San Cristóbal during the uprising. In February of 1994, after the Zapatistas called a cease-fire to the twelve-day long uprising in response to mass peace marches, Ramona was the first Zapatista representative to speak during peace talks with the government. Two years later, when the Mexican authorities forbade the Zapatistas from participating in the National Indigenous Congress in Mexico City, the frail and ill-struck Ramona was asked to represent the Zapatistas.

The plan worked as the government conceded to Ramona and she went on to represent the Zapatistas, speaking in front of 100,000 supporters in Mexico City’s Zocalo during the important nation-wide indigenous gathering.

Credit: Text (with my edits from the web) and Photo by Heriberto Rodriguez

Friday, September 21, 2007

Huipiles at the Museo Alameda: There is nothing to celebrate

So some young latinas asked me yesterday about the "Huipiles" at the Museo Alameda. They were confused about the Exhibit. The photo below is by a commercial artist, Liz Garza Williams, one of the artists in the Huipiles Exhibit, and this is her photo of the featured artist, Kathy Sosa, wife of Republican party advertising-mogul Lionel Sosa, who is also in the show. You know what this visual says to young latinas, who comprise the majority population in this region? This photo, indicative of the quality and imagery in this Huipiles exhibit, says "See how I own your past? Do you see how beautiful I am wearing what you don't even know about? You can't even afford your own history, because only a rich woman like me is good enough and beautiful enough to wear it."

Now the Museo Alameda has asked latina scholars to contribute to "panels," to discuss "huipiles." There is a documentary that accompanies the show where some huipil-dressed latinas are interviewed. Sandra Cisneros and Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D, contributed essays, and are also two of the women Kathy Sosa Frida Kahloized in her "Huipiles" paintings.

What will young women remember? The essays, the documentary?

Or this?

artistic credit: "Katarina, mi querida amiga, a portrait of Kathy Sosa," by Liz Garza Williams

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's wrong with this picture? The Museo Alameda in San Antonio

You're looking at one of the photographs taken by Liz Garza Williams, whose work is currently being exhibited at the Museo Alameda in a new exhibit titled Huipiles: A Celebration.

Other artists included in this exhibit are Kathy Sosa (Republican-party advertising mogul Lionel Sosa's wife), Cristina Sosa Noriega (Lionel's daughter of the HEB
Loteria dinnerware line), Jacinto Guevara, artist, Veronica Prida, and Lionel Sosa himself.

I'm not a certified art critic, just a
Chicana who's travelled all over Mexico and who spent time in Guatemala during their civil war. The women who wear huipiles there look like Rigoberta Menchu - they are indigenous, brown, impoverished, marginalized, and supremely despised by the status quo. They look like me. The Zapatista women wear them too.

Henry R. Munoz III, the founder of the Smithsonian-affiliated Museo Alameda in downtown San Antonio, is also the Vice-Chairman of the Smithsonian Board. According to trusted sources, he spent $1.2 million dollars on the inaugural extravaganza in April of this year after the Alameda Board approved a half-a-million dollar budget. There are rumors of Henry's extravagant spending, tyranny, prima donis syndrome, and that San Antonio-based corporations, knowing how he spends money, refuse to contribute.

The New York Times blasted the Alameda for its poor artistic quality, making an exception for el Franco Mondini-Ruiz's Botanica installation and John Dyer's Conjunto photographs.

The Museo Alameda purports to tell "stories by the people themselves." Officially, sixty percent of the people in San Antonio are Latina/os. The majority are poor, working-class, without benefit of an education that gives them a context to understand their rich, hybrid experiences. The Museo Alamada considers itself as the "largest latino museum in the country," costing $12 million dollars to renovate on the site of the former Alameda Theatre, built in 1949.

When I look at a photograph like this, it hurts me to the tripas.

The City of San Antonio's Office of Cultural Affairs is due to consider $630,000 to the Museo Alameda for the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

Over thirty years ago, Chicana/o artists established cultural centers around the country, defiant at the major institution's denial of their work. We raged at the museum's elitism, cultural appropriation, sterilization - and the virtual exclusion - of historical and political context.

Now, look closely. We finally got our own
chingon museum - and look what we've done.

I really doubt that Lionel Sosa and his Republican political family cares very much about
las mujeres who wear huipiles in Mexico or Guatemala. Or the children from el westside of San Antonio who are going to learn that huipiles are for las ricas and las gringas and las gueras.

And I'm sure the reception going on right now is lavish, elegant, and may Lionel Sosa, Kathy Sosa, Christine Sosa Noriega, et al., never see a
huipil soaked in blood and resistance.

photograph, titled "Hot Hot Hot!" of Maria Del Mar Himmelstach byLiz Garza Williams from