Altar for the Spirit of Rasquachismo,

David Zamora Casas

Digital video, electric candles, paper, feathers, wood and photographs | Video digital, velas eléctricas, flores, papel, plumas, madera y fotografías
Video by Resident Films | Video por Resident Films
Collection of the artist| Colección del artista

Artist’s Statement

Altar for the Spirit of Rasquachismo is an installation with a spoken-word video component celebrating the academic landmark term describing a Chicano sensibility, “Rasquachismo,” coined by eminent Latino arts and culture scholar Tomás Ybarra Frausto, PhD. While traditional in many respects, and a vehicle for remembrance, grieving, and closure, the altar fuses Aztec, Pagan, and Catholic ideologies with Mexican, Texan, and XicanX Queer identity in a contemplation of terms historically used to identify Americans of Mexican origin: wet back, illegal alien, pocho, beaner, People of the Sun, and La Raza Cósmica.

This cultural assemblage presents representations of past and present issues such as gender assumptions, global plunder, non-binary love, and redemption and self-love. The intent is to create a sacred site to preserve cultural heritage and serve as social critique while celebrating beloved people who helped shape community vision. The Day of the Dead / Dia de Muertos tradition of honoring the deceased is subverted to include honoring living beings, our eco-system, and water.

Video Transcript | Transcripción del video



With purity of emotion and depths of the highest vibration. This altar installation honors the author of the Rasquachismo, A Chicano Sensibility and is dedicated to the late Mr. Dudley Brooks. Paying tribute to the both, living Genius and the dearly departed.

Since the day they met, July 22, 1968, Don Tomás Ybarra Frausto and Dudley Brooks have shared a spiritual union – 53 years. 

On a March morning in 2022, Dudley Brooks transitioned into the infinite power of the Universe. Mr. Brooks fell into a deep deep sleep, shutting his eyes never to open them again. Eyes closed, Spirit separated from body, body separated from shadow.

I picture Dudley in his Guayabera and elegant brimmed hat in all his radiance and glory.

I hear him advise me: David “Never take advantage when you have the advantage”.

Life’s not about the money. Life is about self-love, love of language, love of culture, love of literature. To love is to do for another”.

I hear the voice of Tomás say: “tú eres mi otro yo, mi media naranja y medio limón”.

Dudley Brooks – PRESENTE.


Rasquachismo has many layers of manifestation partly because it is a human response to the realities of Chicano everyday life. To be Rasquache is to be fabulously resilient, creative, lusty, colorful, funky, and to make the most from the least.

Rasquachismo is an attitude found in visual art, dress, poetry, music, language and writing.

I believe rasquachismo is rooted in a deep deep deep emotion. As Don Tomás has written in his essay “The Geographies of Love.”

“There is no greater love than our shared creation of a comunidad de sentimiento y resistencia, an inter-generational work of social and cultural activists with the enduring quest to envision a more inclusive, caring, and equitable society”. Como ha escrito mi querido Don Tomás: por vida y Con Safo


La Raza Cósmica was born as stardust in a blast of pink fluffy cotton candy space matter.

En el día 3 de junio en el año de Dios 1960, Carmen Zamora dio a luz a un niño. Born was a homosexual baby named Davidcito, and the Universe breathed life into my Rasquachismo self.

I am just One Brown Face, Human like you.

A dreamer, a pocho who is both a cultural misfit and a demonized survivor, un ser humano con dignidad. Human like you.

Same but different. I am a mariposa con eyebrows de chola, XicanX, Change Maker and political nalga shaker.

¡Soy el bilingüe ángel de la libertad!

Tu querido chingón del corazón en la Santísima Madre Tierra

Perpetually looking for my media naranja en el espejo.

Alternating Colorín Colorado, red y jacaranda purple lipstick under my black pointed waxed mustache, I unapologetically celebrate being an American of Mexican origin in Tenochtitlán, and Tejaztlan.


In San Antonio, spring water becomes creeks and tributaries, destined to become droplets in a spectrum of light, un arcoíris.

El Universo los escucha y los guía a la luz.

Desde el Ojo de Yanaguana, and the great wall of Los Ángeles.

Air, Water, Ritual and Memory are one.

Mexican Greaser, Beaner, Wet Back, Lazy Mexican, they call us.

In Texas, we know black people and brown people were lynched from the same trees by

the Ku Klux Klan and by the Texas Rangers.

In the eighteen nineties, signs reflecting Jim Crow Segregation Laws state:




In 1943, blatant violence against zoot suit wearing Latinos by off-duty military men was yet another government sanctioned display of discrimination of people in California because of the color of their dark skin.

In 2022, the same attitude prevails, but includes anti-transgender, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. The Mexican magic in me resists this hate speech.

The breath of the stripped naked and humiliated Pachuco is all around me. The warrior energy of the lynched ancestors is in me.

We are a global rainbow. ¡Todos somos colores del arcoíris! The resilience of the murdered queer, lesbian, transgender and asylum seeking people guide me.

Tomás Ybarra Frausto once said to me, “We have to open the doors for others as doors and opportunities were opened to us”.


Spring, la Primavera de Persephone y Summer, como la calentura, te quema y te arde, Autumn, Winter

I am the Gender Fluid Mexican magic Spirit of San Antonio which flows in corazones like Water. Veins —como arroyos— and creeks trickle into the Yanaguana River from the drying blue hole que se está secando and its taking its toll and creating climate change.

Moon and stars are witnesses to the collective consciousness created through our flesh, our blood and our rasquache queer sensibility.

Our non-heteronormative bodies are our own: We are two spirit Magic. Real life’s poetry

We are Non-Binary, Polyamorous, queer scribes and artist. Human like you.

We are healers with global contemporaries

Sexual like you, same but different.

We are change makers, we are dreamers, life is temporary, dream a little wild with me.


In English, I used to call myself gay ¡hey, hey, hey! and also using other words like queer, and homo y maricón.

I now prefer to call myself gender non-conforming.

All my life, my queer gender identity has been dancing under rainbows (bajo de arcoiris).

In Spanish, I used to call myself Chicano and I still do.

But I now prefer XicanX, rejecting Hispanic, Spanish or Latinx. I am an American of Mexican origin, and I identify with these terms with the understanding that I continually need to be aware of the politics in the way of these people´s life.

Coming out of the queer closet is a courageous radical act that it grows from self-love and self-awareness, similarly to the process of desagringando. People of color embrace our ethnicity and reject assimilation.

When I was 17-years-old my mother discovered some Polaroid photographs of my first true love where he and I were kissing on a Corpus Christi beach. Other playful photos of me hiding my penis between my legs, squeezing my chest together to create cleavage in an attempt to look more like a mermaid were also found by my mother.

Mi mamá les dijo a mis hermanas en secreto, “No le digan que yo sé que él es así. No quiero que piense que lo voy a querer menos”.

My mother’s deception by omission gave me the liberty and courage to accept these feelings in my heart of hearts, even though I had no established social and political consciousness regarding my gender and sexual orientation. Viva la vida


Wet Back: is a slur to demonize undocumented migrants who while crossing the border river, hold their clothes high above their head, trying to keep them dry. After successfully crossing the dangerous currents of El Rio Bravo in search of the American dream of a better life, these human beings, put their dry clothes on their wet backs.

Raza: Raza is a word used by José Vasconcelos introducing a concept which highlights inclusivity based on the fact that people of Latin America are a mixture of many of the world’s races, cultures, and religions. Emphasizing that brown people share a common heritage and destiny: a mestizaje he calls La Raza Cósmica. In the 1960 La Raza Unida was the first political party that united Chicanos. Viva la Raza

Hispanic: is a word rejected by Chicanos, a term created by the Reagan administration to lump various brown people’s identities. The Hispanic erases the spiritual and cultural diversity of brown people living in the USA.

Pocho: was once a derogatory term used by Mexican Nationals for American citizens who were disconnected with their mother tongue and their Mexican heritage. Today enlightened Xicanos reclaim the word to empower ourselves in a positive light having a super power to appreciate and speak in two languages, while navigating the Mexican cultural tradition in an anglicized, heteronormative USA.

Tejaztlandia: Is a word to describe the place where unapologetic lesbians and queers experience the racist Texas/Mexico borderlands in a place where 60 percent of the population is Mexican American.

Mariposa: Is an adopted term referencing the metamorphosis a person goes through when coming out of the closet like a colorful caterpillar which becomes a free flying iridescent butterfly.

Pachuco: from the 1930’s to present day pachucos engage in a communal lifestyle that reflects the pride and bravado of Chicano youth and old school elders. Elegantly tailored zoot suits, stylized pointed two tones Stacy Adams shoes and pompadour hair are components of the pachuco grandeur. Pachucas reflect the glamour of sexual elegance and femininity. Las mamitas, que viva la Pachuca.

Chicano: The definition of Chicano is as diverse as the people themselves. One key component is self-awareness. You are not born Chicano, it is a consciousness and a state of soul that develops with the knowledge about the ongoing Mexican American struggle for civil rights and ethnic/national pride.

Jotería: is a term used by LGBTQ+ to affectionally describe themselves.

Maricón: is a word to describe an effeminate man used both positively and negatively.

Cholo/chola: To be a chola or cholo is a dramatic way of expressing bravado and pride through style. With the use of fashion, tattoos and attitude. In Women and transexuals chola prideful attitude is manifested in an awesome eyebrow which are plucked or shaven and then drawn on with eyebrow pencils. Resiliently, we reclaim a derogatory word used to describe a Mexican American subculture of indigenous ancestry. Somos memoria, somos los antepasados. Chola love rules.

Beaner: is a slur, insulting ancient rich culinary history of Mexican cuisine by calling people —like me— who eat beans, beaners. Moctezuma comía frijoles.