Cultural Center of Their Own

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 28, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I went to the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned Mexican American Cultural Center, which I feel should have been built many years ago. Our indigenous ancestors have been here for thousands of years, and Mexicans have been here for hundreds. Mexican-Americans have been in East Austin for more than 75 years. Why, why did it take so long for this community to get something that it greatly needed and deserved? Generations of Latinos missed out on a cultural center of their own. As we know, youth who are immersed in arts are less likely to use drugs or get involved with gangs. They need a special place where they can express their feelings and talents in a creative way.
    Influenced by racist individuals, Austin voters turned down a 1992 city bond to build the center. City management, obviously influenced by real estate dealers, delayed this project again and again. The message to the community is that they do not deserve a nice facility and that the land is more valuable than they are!
    It's a sad irony that MACC is being built at the same time that the Mexican community is being torn apart and pushed out due to gentrification. Members of the community need to be empowered and educated about our legal and political systems and how the U.S. and local economies directly affect them. Well-intentioned newcomers, who are willing to work together with the old residents, are welcomed and greatly appreciated. But it is the unscrupulous encroachment of self-seeking individuals that we do not want. They tend to treat Mexicans with total disregard for their rights and wishes. The community is losing its rich, colorful culture and traditions, and the luminous glow within its soul is slowly fading away.
Anita Quintanilla
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