Archive for the ‘General’ Category


November 28, 2006

Speedy Gonzales, Arriba, Arriba!

Speedy Gonzales, the Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes cartoon from the 1950’s, is making a comeback in a new series of ads for Volkswagen. Developed in the early 50’s, Speedy wore an oversized sombrero and spoke broken English with a comical Mexican accent, and his calls of “Arriba, Arriba”, were meant to rouse his fellow mice - who were all stupid, lazy, slow moving, hard-drinking, womanizers - which at the time was how American society generally depicted Mexicans.

Speedy Gonzales

[ Speedy Gonzales - a 1950's depiction of the Mexican. ]

Speedy usually conducted cross border raids into the U.S. for cheese, where he had to outsmart Sylvester the cat in order to succeed. One must put the Speedy Gonzales cartoon in a social context, as the animated series was popular at a time in the United States when Mexican Americans suffered from debilitating racial prejudice and unbearable discrimination. American citizens of Mexican descent enjoyed little if any political representation, and their image was largely defined by the Eurocentric mainstream culture. Speedy Gonzales was part of that demeaning representation, along with the odious “Jim Crow” depictions of African Americans that were popular at the time.

The Frito Bandito

[ The Frito Bandito - a 1960's depiction of the Mexican. Both Speedy Gonzales and the Frito Bandito were voiced by famed animation voice actor Mel Blanc. ]

The financial success and popularity of the Speedy Gonzales franchise lead to the development of another Mexican cartoon character, the Frito Bandito. In 1967 animator Tex Avery created the bandito as the cartoon mascot for Fritos Corn Chips, and the bandito was given voice by Mel Blanc, the same voice actor who played the role of Speedy Gonzales. The racist depiction of the gun toting Mexican bandit speaking broken English became part of American television culture - until the rise of the Chicano movement. [ View a Frito Bandito video clip on You Tube ] Both Speedy Gonzales and the Frito Bandito came under attack by Chicano activists who rightly charged the characters were racist characterizations of Mexicans, and by extension, Mexican Americans. In 1971, community organizing by Chicano activists, along with the work done by the National Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee, succeeded in banishing the Frito Bandito, with the Frito-Lay company wisely choosing another mascot. However, Speedy Gonzales continued his career, but to an ever shrinking audience.

In 1999, the Cartoon Network decided to permanently shelve Speedy Gonzales because of the cartoon’s stereotypical depictions, but fans of the mouse organized an effective campaign to have the cartoon brought back on the air, and in 2002, Speedy was once again broadcast by the Cartoon Network. Undoubtedly this roll back has opened the door to what was once considered off limits.

Volkswagen’s new compact car, the Volkswagen Golf, also known as the Volkswagen Rabbit, is being marketed by a series of television ads that feature none other than Speedy Gonzales. Unbelievably, Volkswagen hired the Miami-based “Hispanic” marketing and advertising agency CreativeOndemanD (COD), to come up with three Speedy commercials that will be targeted specifically at the Latino market (by stephan at dress head). The 3 ads are airing on Telemundo, Telefutura, Univision, Galavision, Mun2, Fox Sports en Espanol, Azteca America, American Latino, SiTV, ESPN Deportes, CNN en Espanol, GolTV, and MTV en Espanol. The campaign will also include outdoor advertisements in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

You can view one of the VW commercials featuring Speedy Gonzalez at YouTube. On the face of it, the ad seems harmless enough, it uses vintage Warner Bros. Looney Tunes footage but leaves out Speedy’s stupid, lazy, slow moving Mexican fellow mice - after all, it is a fast car that’s being advertised here. The question is, can a cartoon character, or any fictional character from our racist past, be reformed, repackaged, and made acceptable for a contemporary audience? If so then you can expect to see the return of the Frito Bandito, along with his pals Little Black Sambo and Amos and Andy.


October 18, 2006

Latinos Who Vote Go To Jail

“You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.”

So reads an intimidating letter sent in a mass mailing to an unknown number of Orange County Latinos. The mystery mailer, printed in Spanish and clearly meant to threaten, states that federal officers are keeping a searchable database that will allow the names of Latino voters to be turned over to anti-immigrant groups. The poison pen letters are obviously meant to affect elections for the 34th State Senate District, where Republicans have narrowed margins with the traditionally Democratic voting public. L.A.’s Democratic Senator, Gloria Romero, has asked California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer to investigate the mailings, and the U.S. Department of Justice has also been asked to investigate. [ Read more about this breaking story ]


October 12, 2006

Sweet Romance & Ollipop Jewelry - vintage elements and retro style

Shelley Cooper is a jewelry artist, designer, historian, and businesswoman who has nurtured a love of antique jewelry into a flourishing design and manufacturing company that exquisitely produces the original collections of Sweet Romance. Her designs, derived from a life-long study of antique and vintage jewelry, radiate the authenticity and spirit of many eras of fashion history.

The collection’s legacy designs enfold stories and memoirs about jewelry, the women who inspired it, and the historical times that gave it expression. These storylines illuminate the lives and times of queens and consorts, fashion doyennes and socialites, vamps and starlets, dreamers and romantics, and our great-grandmothers.

Shelley’s designs convince the eye of old treasures rediscovered, continually interpreting fashion trends of yesterday and today.
Check out our store


September 22, 2006


Obey the Cyberaztec

[ Cyberaztec says - "Contribute your writings and artworks to Xispas!" ]

Xispas is seeking professional writers, photographers, and artists from throughout Aztlán and across the U.S., to contribute articles, reports, poems, essays, reviews, artworks and photographs to the Xispas web log. If you are inspired by the Xispas project and find yourself in general agreement with the materials we present - please consider an active role with us as a content provider. We seek writings and artworks that focus on cultural and political themes relevant to the Chicano/a community at large - sophisticated expressions that are timely, well thought out, and conceived with an international audience in mind. Writers should contact: editor@xispas.com. Artists and photographers, please contact: arts@xispas.com


June 5, 2006

KABC-AM Radio Attacks Eastside Charter School

Academia Semillas del Pueblo is an LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) sanctioned charter school in the Eastside community of El Sereno with students from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

“[Academia Semillas del Pueblo is] dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant native families an excellent education founded upon their own language, cultural values, and global realities,” their official website says (www.dignidad.org).

Besides meeting all requirements for students in LAUSD schools, ASDP provides an ancestral Mexican (indigenous) school environment, based on the Mexika/Aztec concept of kalpulli, which caters to the mostly Mexican/Central American community in El Sereno. Besides English, they also have language classes in Nahuatl (native Mexican), Spanish, and Mandarin. While the majority of the students are Mexican/Central American, the Academia is open to all children of any race, culture, or creed.

Recently, KABC-AM 790 talk radio, which the right-wing has used for years to spout their ugly divisive politics, has targeted ASDP for closure because “they do not instill ‘American’ values.” In particular, Doug McIntyre, a morning talk show host, claims the school is part of the “multiculturalism” push in this country, which has become a particular focus of attack by some US conservative fringe organizations.

Last week, their rabid attacks against ASDP led to death threats against the school and its children (even forcing students to go home).

KABC-AM, which is apparently owned by Disney, is a disgrace to academic freedom and the celebration of a rich, cultural reality in Los Angeles and throughout the country. They argue for the homogenization of everyone in this country into what they deem is “white” American society. In essence, they are saying everyone should believe like them, act like them, talk like them.

This is fascism, pure and simple — people walking in goose steps (literarily or figuratively, it’s the same concept). It’s also racist (in fact, McIntyre once stated on his radio show that it was good that Whites attacked and killed Native peoples for their land).

What makes this society truly valuable is the diversity of cultures, religions, tongues, and peoples who have come here (some out of necessity). This country was not just built by Europeans. Mexicans, in particular, have been working and fighting for this country for more than 150 years. They’ve helped build the railroads, pick our fruits & vegetables, and labor at all levels of industry. They’ve fought in all major wars in the 20th century, garnering more medals of honor than any other ethnic group during World War II. Although Latinos (including Mexicans) are said to be 10 percent of the US armed forces, they reportedly make up upwards of 30 percent of soldiers, marines, and National Guard units in Afghanistan and Iraq (including many undocumented people).

KABC is trying to close Academia del Pueblo not on any legal basis or for incompetence or any issues of malfeasance. The sole focus of their hatred is that the school is run by Xicanos, for Xicanos, and dedicated to Xicano/Mexicano culture and traditions.

What McIntyre and some of the other KABC anchors fail to realize is that Xicanos, Mexicanos, and Central Americans, particularly the indigenous Aztec/Mayan and other tribal roots that these people come from, are part of “America.” They are as native as any Native American in this country. They were here for tens of thousands of years before any Europeans arrived. American English itself has many Nahuatl (Aztec) words, including avocado, jaguar, chocolate, maize, tomato, and more. While we at Xispas are not against European culture or people in this country, we are against any imposition of European (Anglo or otherwise) culture to people who are not European (that’s colonialization).

While we agree this country should have a unifying language such as English, we also should be fluent in Spanish and/or tribal tongues (or any other of the more than 350 languages spoken in the United States) if that’s our desire.

In the United States, we can agree on uniting around essential aspects for all people regardless of their origins or traditions, including following the law (when they are just and based on our healthy development, not control), support for the well-being of all children, English as a common tongue, and the freedoms all of us (not just Europeans) have fought for. We should not demand we become homogenized into one mono-culture (in the US there’s no such thing anyway).

American culture has the sighs of Jewish mothers, the scraping brooms of Italian street cleaners, the sweat of Algonquin construction workers, the callused hands of Mexican farmworkers, and the immense fortitude of African Americans through slavery and beyond. The Irish, the German, the French, the Japanese, the Filipino, and the British all belong here. So do the Lakota, the Navajo, the Pueblo, the Cheyenne, the Tohono O’oldham — and now the millions of Zapotecas, Mixtecos, Mayans, Yaquis, Tarahumaras, Huicholes, Purepechas, Pipiles, and other indigenous groups from Mexico and Central America.

We need to stop KABC-AM’s racist campaign to remove the variety of human lives and expression in this country. We ask all activists, leaders, speakers, teachers, youth, and elders to contact the radio station and demand they cease any more attacks against Academia Semillas del Pueblo and other non-European community-based institutions.


September 5, 2005

Foreign Aid for the USA?

[ Offers of hurricane relief aid have been made to the people of the US by a number of foreign countries. Germany, England, Venezuela, Chile, Kuwait, and dozens of other nations have offered assistance. Even countries slammed by December’s tsunami such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and India have offered help. In addition, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Arab League are contributing to the relief effort. The most interesting offer came from Bush’s nemesis, Cuban President, Fidel Castro. On September 2nd, 2005, Castro made the following remarks. ]

“Our country is ready to send, in the small hours of morning, 100 clinicians and specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, who at dawn tomorrow, Saturday, could be in Houston International Airport, Texas, the closest to the region struck by the tragedy, in order to be transferred by air, sea or river to the isolated shelters, facilities and neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans, where the population and families are that require emergency medical care or first aid. These Cuban personnel would be carrying backpacks with 24 kilograms of medications, known to be essential in such situations to save lives, as well as basic diagnosis kits. They would be prepared to work alone or in groups of two or more, depending on the circumstances, for as long as necessary.

Likewise, Cuba is ready to send via Houston, or any other airport of your choosing, 500 additional specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, with the same equipment, who could be at their destination point at noon or in the afternoon of tomorrow, Saturday, September 3. A third group of 500 specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine could be arriving in the morning of Sunday, September 4. Thus, the 1100 said medical doctors, with the resources described tantamount to 26.4 tons of medications and diagnosis kits, would be caring for the neediest persons in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. These medical doctors have the necessary international experience and elementary knowledge of the English language that would allow them to communicate with the patients. We stand ready waiting for the US authorities’ response.”

[ On September 5th, 2005, CNN reported the Cuban leader made a second address directed to the American people in which the number of physicians offered was increased to 1,586. The doctors are trained in emergency relief aid, and had been sent to South Asia after the December tsunami. In his televised address Castro said political enmity should be put aside during such a crisis, and he read out news stories describing the lack of medical attention for the suffering people of Louisiana and Mississippi. Castro noted the US government has not responded to Cuba’s offer of doctors and tons of medicine as of Sept. 4th. "Forty-eight hours have passed and we still haven't received any response to our offer ... We will wait patiently as many days as are necessary," he said. ]


Escape from New Orleans

[ This Column of the Americas article by Roberto Rodriguez is titled, Escape from New Orleans. The writer can be reached at: XColumn@aol.com. The editorial cartoon is by Sergio Hernandez ]

Government Help
Katrina’s aftermath is forcing us to rethink the social contract and sacred trust that we as human beings have with government. Currently, that contract seems to be dog-eat-dog… and that trust has been irreparably shattered. Obviously, Job One is to respond competently to the extended crisis. After the massive cleanup, then the long rebuilding process will commence. But what will be rebuilt? Beyond buildings, homes and infrastructure - which will cost several hundred billion dollars — our relations with government and with each other have to be constructed anew. We cannot return to what we are living. Our pre-Katrina relations is what continues to fuel the nation’s response. And what we had is a very divided and sick society, conditioned to always make excuses or point fingers, this while many thousands continue to be in danger, this also amid unimaginable death and devastation.

And so with this tragedy, someone will have to pay. But that doesn”t help today. Yet, today isn’t the only concern. How do we prevent similar disasters and similar responses? When the waters recede, Congress will no doubt investigate such questions, including questions of accountability. But it’s beyond that. After the initial national unity in response to 911, fear and scapegoating have been allowed to creep back into the national culture. As FDR once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Never underestimate the power [and paralysis] of fear. It is what is permitting the complete militarization of society… including the march toward martial law. It also permits government to trample upon human rights, eliminate privacy and to discard labor, health and environmental laws. Scapegoating and dehumanization thrive in this environment. A populace, distracted by its own singling out [in this case] of Arabs-Muslims, other people of color, Jews or immigrants - permits government to implement draconian measures that erode liberties, but do little to protect its residents.

All this militarization has been useless in the face of Katrina. After 911, we were told that the United States was under siege … that we need more lethal weaponry and that we need to be on the lookout for terrorists (read Mexicans) coming across the border. And yet, 100 terrorist strikes or all the stampeding illegal aliens of the world couldn’t do a fraction of Katrina’s damage. Four years of exploiting fear and preparing for invading terrorists (the pillars of a moated society), did not help U.S. Gulf coast residents one bit. If anything, it drained badly needed resources. We created a massive Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when we already had a Department of Defense (DOD) — which permits a military empire to expand, but seemingly doesn’t defend or protect anything. Katrina is proof.

In all this, charity is not enough. While it may assuage guilt, it rarely promotes dignity and it will not even total one percent of what’s needed. All the people who’ve lost their homes, possessions, memories and livelihoods should receive grants to permit them to start anew, rather than loans. And why not? Have they not suffered enough? Should that not be part of our social contract with government? Perhaps now’s the time to redefine that social contract to include the right to home, livelihood, security, health and education. Too costly? Examine the exorbitant and wasteful DHS & DOD budgets and our illegal and immoral wars and then tell us there’s no money. (Congress has certainly found money to make permanent war). The last thing we need now is for government - whose other obligation is to protect our sacred Mother Earth — to begin weakening environmental rules (It already believes global warming is a myth). To do so will also invite other toxic disasters and further erode our fragile wetlands.

Finally, for all the Minuteman who’ve mobilized to “protect our borders” - your long-term services are greatly needed. Not to patrol a border, but to help your fellow human beings on the gulf coast. If only others would get off their gas-guzzling behinds and join you in this noble cause… And while you’re at it, pick up some migrants along the way… that’s what this country sorely needs: a huge hard-working labor force — to assist in this massive construction project.

© Column of the Americas 2005


September 4, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: America laid low

[ In the past Richard Vargas has submitted poems to Xispas. He sent us the following opinion piece he wrote on the unfolding tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina. ]

A super power that won't take care of its people
The images and reports of the devastation and loss of life from our recent natural crisis left me feeling numb and helpless. Those feelings have now given way to shame and anger. Our federal government’s inability to respond quickly to Katrina’s aftermath, and the unnecessary loss of life that has been allowed to happen is inexcusable. The sloth-like response and inept planning apparent at the top leadership levels of the current administration reflects the same “head in the sand” posture prevalent in how the war against terrorism has been waged. Isn’t it ironic that the same leaders who have recklessly gambled with this country’s future and resources by investing in a campaign of “nation building” in Iraq, will now have the opportunity to give us a taste of their bitter medicine as they begin to put into practice what they have failed to accomplish in Baghdad?

The people of this country will respond and react as always… pulling together and giving from a bottomless well of determination and goodwill for our fellow citizens. But we count on that guy in the White House and his staff to provide the direction and guidance. One has to wonder how our government would be able to respond if (heaven forbid) the Dept. of Homeland Security’s worst case scenario would come to pass.

Yes, the president’s supporters will rally to his side, declaring “shame” to anyone criticizing this debacle. They will shout down anyone daring to point out the obvious. Those of us who see through the spin and doublespeak will be accused of trying to turn this disaster into a political gain. The truth is any leader, no matter his political party, no matter his race, no matter his religion, should be held accountable for this drastic failure in the face of grim adversity. When it happens with someone else’s country, we can live with ourselves. The idiotic attempts by our president and his cabinet to rationalize their actions overseas are laughable, but when it involves the death and suffering of countless fellow citizens here, on our own shores, then it’s time to hold someone accountable. If not now, when?


July 1, 2005

Red Alert Communique from the EZLN

[ On June 19th, 2005, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), issued a communiqué titled RED ALERT. Xispas reprints the entire communiqué here for purposes of dialog and understanding. On June 27th the EZLN announced it would launch "a new political initiative" to be outlined in days to come, and that the rebel leadership would be releasing a series of texts called "The Sixth Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle." In a post titled, Red Alert for Everyone, Chicano author, poet, and novelist, Luis J. Rodriguez, provides some analysis on the situation at his web log ]

Latest Communique from Marcos/EZLN
Originally published in Spanish by the CCRI-CG of the EZLN. Translated by irlandesa.

Communiqué from the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Mexico. June 19, 2005

To the People of Mexico: To the Peoples of the World: Brothers and Sisters:

As of today, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation has declared, throughout all rebel territory, a GENERAL RED ALERT. Based on this, we are informing you: First - That at this time the closure is being carried out of the Caracoles and the Good Government Offices which are located in the zapatista communities of Oventik, La Realidad, Morelia and Roberto Barrios, as well as all the headquarters of the authorities of the different Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities. Second - That also being carried out is the evacuation of the members of the different Good Government Juntas and the autonomous authorities, in order to place them in shelter. Now, and for an indefinite time period, they will be carrying out their work in a clandestine and nomadic manner. Both the projects as well as the autonomous government will continue functioning, although under different circumstances than they have been up until now.

Third - That basic community health services will continue functioning in the different Caracoles. Civilians will be in charge of these services, and the CCRI-CG of the EZLN is distancing them from any of our future actions, and we are demanding that they be treated as civilians and with respect for their life, liberty and goods by government forces. Fourth - That there has been a call-up of all members of our EZLN who have been engaged in social work in the zapatista communities and those of our regular troops who have been in their barracks. In a similar fashion, all broadcasts by Radio Insurgente, “The Voice of Those Without Voice”, in FM and in short wave, have been suspended for an indefinite period of time. Fifth - That, simultaneous with the publication of this communiqué, national and international civil societies who are working in peace camps and in community projects are being urged to leave rebel territory. Or, if they decide freely of their own volition, they remain on their own and at their own risk, gathered in the caracoles. In the case of minors, their departure is obligatory.

Sixth - That the EZLN announces the closing of the Zapatista Information Centre (CIZ), not without first thanking the civil societies who have participated in it, from the time of its creation until today. The CCRI-CG of the EZLN formally releases these persons from any responsibility for the future actions of the EZLN. Seventh - That the EZLN releases from responsibility for any of our future actions all persons and civil, political, cultural, citizens and non-governmental organizations, solidarity committees and support groups who have been close to us since 1994. We thank all of those who have, sincerely and honestly, throughout these almost 12 years, supported the civil and peaceful struggle of the zapatista indigenous for the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights and culture.

Democracy! Liberty! Justice!From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast. By the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos Mexico, in the sixth month of the year 2005.


Save Self-Help Graphics!

[ The following article was written by Los Angeles artist, Mark Vallen, and originally appeared on his Art For A Change web log ]

Chon Noriega served as moderator for the mass meeting
An extraordinary event took place at Ave. 50 Studio in L.A.’s Highland Park district on Tuesday, June 28th, 2005. Nearly 200 artists and their supporters packed the small gallery to try and find a way to save Self-Help Graphics, which was mysteriously shut down by its Board of Directors on June 7th. The closing of the cultural center galvanized artists and their supporters all across Los Angeles, and sent shock waves across the nation. The crowd at Ave. 50 was so large it spilled out the front door and onto the sidewalk - where people excitedly discussed how to revitalize the popular arts center. Eight of Self-Help’s Board of Directors attended the meeting, and they issued their first public statement since closing the popular art space on June 7th. The mass community assembly was moderated by Chon Noriega, the director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Noriega was an excellent and even handed moderator who kept the proceedings moving along, despite the often heated exchanges.

Reyes Rodriguez of Tropical de Nopal Gallery asks questions of the Self-Help board
Along with numerous established artists like Yreina Cervantes, Harry Gamboa, Diane Gamboa, Wayne Healy, Margaret Garcia, and many others too numerous to mention, the gathering was also attended by representatives from galleries and institutions like Tropical de Nopal, Galería de la Raza, Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), Instituto Cultural de Mexico and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG). The Board of Directors were presented by Noriega, and each had an opportunity to introduce themselves and describe their professional backgrounds. Board President Olivia Montes read an official statement that explained the crisis from the board’s perspective, and that document was handed out to all those gathered. The declaration stated Self-Help was closed “for financial reasons” and that “the organization had been incurring debt for at least six months. Funds were insufficient for payroll and other basic operating necessities. The action was also taken to curtail incurring additional debt.” Board members went on to explain how there were no funds available to provide liability insurance for the premises of Self-Help; how the building was in violation of city building codes because of a lack of emergency fire alarms and lighting; how the roof had sustained severe water damage from the last heavy rain; and that the institution had incurred around $100,000 of debt. Board members insisted it was for these basic reasons they decided to take the drastic measure of shutting down the institution they were empowered to oversee ( the board can be reached, at: selfhelpboard@earthlink.net ).

Judy Baca from SPARC makes a statement to the board
The encounter began to heat up once the board finished their presentation and artists and community members were allotted time to ask questions, make statements and express opinions. People wanted to know why the board had allowed the situation to develop into such a catastrophe. While Board President Olivia Montes acknowledged the board was in part responsible for the crisis, little in the way of specifics were offered. Some board members seemed to be blaming the calamity upon former Executive Director, Tomas Benitez, who was not present at the meeting. This attempt at finger pointing was met with loud jeers, and one irate member of the audience jumped to her feet to berate the board for speaking against a man who was not present to defend himself. Another contentious moment came when an audience member insisted on an answer as to why the board did not inform artists and the community about the closing of Self-Help. Board member Oralia Michel answered by saying the board “did not have the resources” to inform the people. That patently ridiculous assertion was met with laughter and taunts. More than any other comment made that evening, Michel’s remark indicates the fundamental problem with the Board of Directors - a lack of creative thinking. A single mass e-mailing from the board could easily have informed artists and the wider community of the impending crisis. This web log provides ample proof of the effectiveness of internet communications… my posts on the emergency at Self-Help have reached tens of thousands of readers, mobilizing many into action. The board should have immediately posted an explanation of their actions on the Self-Help website, instead they remained silent - taking nearly a month to upload such a statement.

Linda Gamboa reads an open letter to the board from the Coalition of Concerned Citizens
During the meeting, a new action group presented itself, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for SHG. Comprised of artists and community members, the group hopes to revitalize Self-Help and bring it back to its original mission of being a grass roots community arts center. Co-chair of the group, artist Linda Gamboa, read an open letter to the board that was prepared in advance by the coalition. The open letter asked fifteen questions of the board, each designed to help make the operations of the board transparent to the community. The open letter was also printed out and circulated by coalition co-chair, artist Richard Duffy. The coalition requested that the board answer their questions within 48 hours… and since then a primary demand, that the board upload a statement to the Self-Help website, has been met. The coalition also asked the board to hand over all tax records, board minutes, and relevant financial data in order to best determine how to govern Self-Help in the near future. For those interested, the coalition can be reached at: Coalition of Concerned Citizens for SHG. P.O. Box 861868. Los Angeles, CA 90086.

A group of active professional artists and their supporters have organized themselves as the Coalition of Concerned Artists/Citizens for Self-Help Graphics & Art. They will be holding a meeting on Saturday, July 2nd, 2005, at 3:00 pm. The gathering will take place at the East LA Civic Center Amphitheatre, which is on the lake and next to the library (at 3rd. & Mednik). Everyone is invited to participate in this meeting. In order to facilitate the ongoing discussion between artists, activists, community members and Self-Help’s Board of Directors, all are encouraged to join the online message board set up to help resolve the crisis. Sign up at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/selfhelpartistcommunity

The mass meeting at Ave. 50 Studio on June 28th, 2005, represents a pivotal moment in Los Angeles history. It signifies the possible beginnings of an artistic/political re-engagement for artists… especially for Chicano artists. What at first seemed a terrible defeat may turn out to be the flowering of a new renaissance, and seeing so many concerned individuals attending the emergency meeting - its hard to think otherwise. Artists passed the hat and raised over $800 for Self-Help during the proceedings, others stepped forward to offer free services in an effort to give new life to the debilitated institution. Clearly, a great number of Los Angelinos are interested in the future of Self-Help. But the issue isn’t simply to get Self-Help reopened and functioning again - the matter has more to do with what direction the resurrected cultural center will take once it is revived. The answer can’t come solely from corporate patronage or politicians - those forces didn’t give birth to Self-Help in the first place. It was the artists, community members, and grass roots activists that brought Self-Help into existence, and it is those very people, those same forces… that will bring Self-Help Graphics back to life.