I’m often asked why it is I say that “Texas red is—well, red. You know what I’m talking about. We’re talking reactionary, Texas red reactionaries. These are Neocons, hateful, mean-spirited, racist, homophobic, proud creators of the state’s cratered landscape of prisons, big supporters of the state’s deplorable apartheid public education system, the state’s unparalleled lack of access to affordable healthcare and of course, politicians who, like the majority population, are intent on keeping things that way.” Oh and by the way, these are self-declared “compassionate, conservative Christians.” That rings hollow to me.
I recall as a young man hearing Southern Baptist ministers preaching in favor of and advocating for racism, slavery and homophobia from the pulpit. Explaining that god wanted it so, in fact commanded it. That’s the “red” we’re talking about. Not much has changed in the decades since.
It’s not a judgment call—it is simply an observation, me stating what I see, hear and experience. By the way, it’s not anything that hasn’t been said about this state by others.
There are just too many incidents, events, and headlines that are on their face racially motivated for there to be any other less malevolent motive. Then, of course, there’s a passel of history.
That passel of history is not ancient history. News stories of the past couple of weeks are evidence of my assessment.
Consider these two.
Fight for Historical Marker Sparks Race Concerns: “Reigniting a racially charged debate many thought had flamed out, the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans association is working to install another historical marker on the Texas Capitol campus recognizing the Confederacy.
The organization argues that it is simply trying to highlight an interesting and important tale about how the Texas Supreme Court building came to exist through the use of Confederate veterans’ pension funds. Critics, including 12 lawmakers who fired off a letter Tuesday opposing the marker, say the group is making another attempt to glorify Confederate soldiers and revise the group’s history of racism and slavery.”
“Confederate apologists have spent almost 150 years trying to change the Civil War into something that it was not,” the lawmakers, including state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, wrote in a letter to the Texas Historical Commission. “Here’s what it was: an insurrection against the United States government with the main goal of maintaining the institution of African slavery.”
Sons of Confederate Veterans? Seriously??? Dudes, that war is over. Slavery lost. Get over it. It’s been more than 150 years. Let it go. I mean really.
Then there’s the following PBS new story.
Early Punishments Can Have Lasting Impact for Some Students “BRYAN, Texas | De’Angelo Rollins has many traits of a typical teenager — he’s shy, likes video games and is continuing to grow into his adult body.
Yet Rollins is also coping with a more unique adolescent challenge: a criminal record.
Two years ago, Rollins got into a fight at his middle school in Bryan, Texas, with a classmate that he says had been bullying him for months. The incident left the teen with a hefty punishment: a three-day suspension, a criminal Class C misdemeanor citation for disruption of class and a $350 fine.”
“A number of studies over the years have linked a child’s exposure to the criminal justice system with increased odds of dropping out of school. The NewsHour recently traveled to Texas, a state that is sending thousands of kids to court every year.
Under Texas state law, if he hadn’t taken care of the citation or the fine wasn’t paid, he could have been arrested when he turned 17.
The case is not uncommon, according to attorney Deborah Fowler, who recently authored a report on the issue for Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center in Austin.
“In fiscal year 2011 … 330,000 non-traffic Class C [citations] were handled in the municipal and justice of the peace courts for juveniles,” Fowler said.
And because Texas adjudicates less serious “classroom cases” in municipal and justice of the peace courts – rather than in juvenile courts that attach confidentiality protections to the proceedings – the punishment likely won’t stop there for Rollins.”
Not coincidentally, “More than 40 percent of the tickets were given to students 14 and younger. And critics say the citations have unfairly targeted low-income, minority households. Susan Ferriss of the Center for Public Integrity reported, “the areas where student ticketing is heaviest corresponds to neighborhoods where Los Angeles’ dropout rates have been highest.”
And don’t forget Texas also has one of the highest minority high school dropout rates in the country.
So now, really, does that sound as if I am being overly critical of conditions in Texas Red? Or of its public policy, politics and elections? I mean really. I’m just calling it what it is.
It reminds me of a news item from years ago here in San Antonio. A local city councilman said of one of the county’s district court judges, “he’s just a fat, old politician.”
The judge was asked for a response to the councilman’s comments. The judge replied, “Well the hell of it is, he’s right. I am old. I am fat, and I am a politician.” Do I hear an “Amen?”
From Texas Red: a cratered landscape of prisons, deplorable apartheid public education, lack of healthcare and politicians and majority population intent on keeping it that way…