Playing hide-and-seek until midnight with neighborhood friends. Attending Cristo Rey Catholic Church. Feeling the breeze through the screen doors of his Garden Street home.
“All of my childhood memories are from East Austin,” said retired police officer turned community advocate Mark Gil, whose alter ego “Police Ice” has for decades inspired youths through rap music and motivational speaking.
That’s why when local musician and singer Haydn Vitera asked Gil to join other Austin Latino movers and shakers in a music video celebrating the city’s Mexican-American community, Gil jumped aboard.
While Vitera’s Spanish-language song “Qué Pasará,” or “What Will Happen,” asks what would happen if all the immigrant workers in our nation were gone, the video serves as a tribute to the contributions of Latinos. After the news of President Trump’s executive orders paving the way for a border wall and seeking to halt immigration of refugees, the recently released music video, which has more than 27,000 Facebook views, is quickly gaining buzz among Austin’s Latino community.
Tejano music heavyweight Ruben Ramos appears among the opening scenes walking into Cisco’s Restaurant and Bakery as he reflects on what the Latino community means to him. “La Raza (the people) is really the backbone of anything that’s being built like a building, a bridge, a house,” Ramos said. “La Raza is the backbone of this country, in my opinion.”
In the video, Vitera cruises through East Austin, and viewers see the neighborhood from his point of view as he rolls down Cesar Chavez Street and Robert T. Martinez Jr. Street, which was named after a local fallen police officer.
Austinites throughout the video hold up signs such as one Gil held, reading “I protect the community #YesToYourFuture.” Local mixed martial arts fighter Nick Gonzalez stands in the ring with the sign “I fight for our community.” Longtime music advocate Rose Reyes lifts up a sign reading “Promoter of my community.”
The song, which was co-written by Vitera’s brother, David Vitera, and Rafael Franco, was released in the fall of 2015 as part of the EP “Tequila Rock.”
“I’m not typically political in my music,” Vitera said. “I’m a rock ’n’ roller, and I want people to forget the problems of the world with my music, but once I heard the song I thought it was time for that message to be put out there.”
On Vitera’s Facebook page, he offers the full English translation of the lyrics. Here’s a sampling:
“If tomorrow we abandoned this country
“If tomorrow we ceased to exist
“What would happen? What would happen without my people?
“We came to this country only to work
“Searching for the promise of the dollar
“And now they detain us and want to send us back.
“What would happen?”
Vitera worked with director Gilbert A. Villaseñor Jr. and producer Mickey Cevallos of Cevallos Brothers Productions to create the video.
“We wanted it to be positive and honor our community and the huge part that Latino-Americans play in this country,” Vitera said.
Villaseñor’s family has a long history in East Austin as owners of Mission Funeral Home. As a kid, he remembers going to Cisco’s for breakfast with his father and spotting Grammy winner Ramos sharing a meal with other Tejano music legends. Villaseñor knew they had to go back to film there.
“Qué Pasará” also features vocals by Vanessa Del Fierro, who appears in the video at the A.B. Cantu/Pan American Recreation Center’s popular amphitheater murals.
For community advocate Gil, the music video serves as a tool “to showcase the grit of our culture, our can-do spirit, and our presence in the fiber of our city.”