Very honored to have been presented with an Award of Excellence: Multidisciplinary, by the ESB-Mexican American Cultural Center this weekend. I am touched by the gesture and proud to be in such great company.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible and and to the ESB-MACC for the recognition. I am humbled.
A few people at the event were affected by my remarks and asked for the text so here it is in it's entirety. --- First, I’d like to congratulate my fellow award recipients and thank City of Austin, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, it’s board, and the Award of Excellence committee for conceiving of and implementing this amazing opportunity. I’d also like to thank supportive family, group of colleagues and friends, some of whom are here tonight. I’d also like to commend Robert J. Mezquiti for the amazing work of art that is Pétalos, as it is a beautiful way to commemorate people in our community. I’m very honored to have my name on the wall of this amazing institution and am proud to be in such great company. Taking time to honor and shed light upon artists of color is especially important in our society at this juncture and I’d like to quickly say a few words about why.
Years ago an article written about the YLA exhibition I curated at Mexic-arte concluded with the idea that Latino-centric or race-based exhibitions in general were outdated and no longer necessary. I responded to the writer of the piece to express my disagreement with him for positing that our multi-cultural world no longer needed such distinctions and we need to take a color-blind approach to the world of art.
Yet in our city and many others like it, that are becoming increasingly more and more expensive to live in, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for artists in general much less for artists of color, because the tendency for under-representation grows exponentially in this type of environment.
I also think recognizing artists in this way is is vital within the current political climate of our country. Prominent politicians want to discount us and our contribution to American society. They want to build walls to hide us or in some cases walls of condos. In a time when our social media feeds are full of videos and articles of these politicians who slander Latinos in particular by calling us rapists and murderers, in a time when we are portrayed in movies and other entertainment media as gang members, and drug dealers, we HAVE to have moments like these to counter all that. What we are is artists, film-makers, dancers, administrators, political representatives, educators, and everything else in between.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “We must KBO” (Keep Buggering on!) We have to take it upon ourselves at times like these to shine the spotlight on our fellow artists of color and our allies because we can’t wait for anyone else to do it for us.
To wrap this up, I’d like to once again say thank you all for this recognition but I’d also like to take this opportunity to challenge all of us with the task of not only accomplishing this buggering on at gatherings like this, within our own echo chamber. I’d like to charge us all to shine the light on other under-represented talents as well, be they Latino, African-American, Queer and everyone else whose voice has been muted, because we all struggle against the same infrastructure and we ALL need more light in our lives.
Les agradezco mucho este honor y reconocimiento. Lo acepto como un reto a seguir apoyando y echandole luz a mi comunidad y a los subrepresentados. No vale la luz guardada. Gracias.