Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sandra Cisneros leaves San Anto?

[Amelia Montes is off today.]

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

As many of you 60s and 70s activists know, back in those days there were certain cosas that were not talked about in public places, things that La Raza had no tolerance for listening to. Criticism. Questioning of leadership. Talking about the jefes and jefas. It extended into the written word, as well. I remember a fairy tale I wrote that received physical threats as part of my audience review, on me, not on the tale. We seemed to be a gente allergic to the airing of laundry or anything that questioned the sanctity of our celebrities.

I don't know how much times have changed, but I found it refreshing to read a writer, new to me, detailing the type of discussion and views that those of us here at La Bloga have likely deliberately avoided presenting on our pages. Anyone involved in the Chicano lit world has heard unsavory to critical comments about some ChicanA writers. Yes, ChicanO, too. History and gente will decide whether our choices to not publicize or debate such was a journalistic weakness on our part. Likewise our tendency, sometimes, to find few weaknesses in literary works. I'll leave it at that.

Below is the beginning of a lengthy and journalistically responsible (in my opinion) article by Roberto OntiverosThe title alone says much about its contents and the sometimes heated comments it produced:

Sandra Cisneros's defenders and detractors debate what the celebrated author has meant to San Antonio and Latino literature

[By Roberto Ontiveros, published Feb. 15, 2012 in the Current, "San Antonio’s free, award-winning, alternative newsweekly, featuring local writers and critics covering politics, arts, music, food & drink, and every other crucial Alamo City topic." – Website's "About Us"]

"As nearly everyone now knows, Sandra Cisneros — the oft-times indigenously attired author who founded the Macondo Writers' Workshop here in 1998 and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation two years later — is done with San Antonio. Judging from the comments strung to the news articles announcing her impending exit, people here feel mournfully mosaic about her departure. She is done with Texas as well, and heading for... who knows where really?
"As longtime friend and absolute fan Bill Sanchez told me, Cisneros's reasons for leaving are as simple as the fact that, at 57, she feels compelled to reevaluate her life and the work she still wants to accomplish. It is time to focus on herself, she tells me. So, Cisneros is done with this state and done with the state she found herself in. To be blunt, it sounds like she is done with a lot of you, too."

RudyG: One of the commenters wrote:
"Roberto [Ontiveros], what have you done? As Latinos we haven't the
luxury of destroying one another. The profound irresponsibility of ethics and knowledge in this piece is

What the commenter termed Latinos not having the luxury of destroying one another, I call responsible journalism. The accusation of "irresponsibility of ethics" sounds to me like charges from the old Movimiento caudillismo some of us tolerated more than others.

I leave further interpretation of this article to La Bloga readers to decide for themselves. Go here to read the full article.

Es todo, hoy,


Lisa Alvarado said...

Rudy - Graet piece...IMHO, we resist the difficult conversation and fall into the worst liberalism, because of a knee-jerk reaction to the external racism that we have to fight every day (It's a varant of 'Don't air your dirty laundry in public.' I feel in Sandra's debt, but censorship is not the way to honor her. I wish her blessings in the next half of her life. - Lisa Alvarado

Lisa Alvarado said...

Oooops! G-r-e-a-t...sorry for the typo.

Mario Acevedo said...

My thoughts: Cisneros can do whatever the hell she wants. She doesn't need to vet her life past anyone.

Loved this line--> Regardless of how tough and hardworking Cisneros has remained in her quarter-century here, the author and activist suggests she is not leaving so much as being forced out, going so far as to liken herself to one of the raccoons being pushed out of the developing Southtown neighborhood behind the house she is leaving.

Manuel Ramos said...

I agree with Mario. Do we care about the writer's personality, or the writer's writing? For me, that is an easy choice. Some of the writers I admire the most were not always good human beings. That does not detract from their writing. There is a difference between "responsible journalism" and gossip. Ultimately, Cisneros the writer will be judged on the basis of her writing and not on whether she was very nice to her assistant.