Wednesday, November 25, 2020

There has been one successful coup in the United States. It foreshadowed the rise of Donald Trump

Put this important history on your reading list. White Supremacy dies hard. Why am I just learning of this horrible history for the first time? What we might call "Trumpism" is woven into the very fabric of this country. Yet again, another reminder of it from U.S. history.

Thanks to Dr. Barbara Flores for sharing.

-Angela Valenzuela 

#EndWhiteSupremacy #BlackLivesMatter #BLM #WhiteSupremacy

There has been one successful coup in the United States. It foreshadowed the rise of Donald Trump

In his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election result, Donald Trump has been accused of attempting to subvert the will of the American people by instigating a coup d'etatan act of overthrowing or usurping lawful government powers by employing unlawful or illegal means.

What many Americans may not realize is that Trump’s motives and actions, and those of the Republican Party enabling him had their genesis in a far earlier, successful coup executed over 120 years ago. Then, white citizens conspired against a municipal government in Wilmington, North Carolina.

It’s one of the primary reasons Republicans like Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and his ilk are so vehemently angry about re-examinations of American history from a racial perspective. Cotton’s war on the devastating analysis contained within The New York Times’  praised and influential “1619 Project,” for example is not simply about what such fresh looks at “established” history reveal about the pervasiveness and longevity of racism in this country. Instead, their rage is fueled by what deeper looks at racism—and the nation’s long history of it—reveal about the character and motivations of the perpetrators themselves. Since race-based bigotry is impossible to defend from any rational standpoint, stories and myths to mask it are the only strategy.

As for those motivations, it can be deceptively easy to assume that racism is rooted simply in discrimination on the basis of skin color. At its most basic level, that is certainly what it is—it provides an explanation even a child can understand: Others are “bad” because they “look different.”

But “looking different” is just a foundational element for racism. It’s what comes next that matters, when the implications of looking different are weighed and contemplated within the lizard brain of those so predisposed. These same types of people have continually, through the centuries, made up a huge cross-section of America. From the nineteenth-century southern inheritors of the beaten Confederacy, known then as the Democrats, to what they swiftly transformed themselves into a century later during the Civil Rights era—the same people we now know as the modern Republican Party. Today’s Republicans are simply the latest heirs to the same racist legacy post-Reconstruction that brought us Black CodesJim Crow, and “Separate but Equal”: It’s a legacy that now manifests itself in the coordinated effort to restrict voting among Black people and anyone who isn’t white that is voter suppression.

Out of the many acts of terroristic violence perpetrated against African Americans since active hostilities concluded in the Civil War, what occurred in Wilmington over a few days in November 1898 was not unique in its lethal character. Some 60 (probably more) Black citizens were massacred at the hands of an angry mob of white supremacists. Similar incidents of racist violence had peppered the South for decades, fueling the inception of such domestic terrorist groups as the Ku Klux Klan. But the parallels with the modern goals of the Republican Party—specifically the political reasons for the massacre, coupled with what sparked the event itself—echo today in the strategy and motives underlying the Trump campaign’s efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election.

What motivated that 1898 Wilmington coup, known as the Wilmington Insurrection—or its longtime whitewashed historical descriptor, the “Wilmington Race Riot”—were the same things that motivate Trump and the GOP today: white power, white insecurity, and white fear. All of those put together led to a sustained campaign of voter intimidation that directly prefigures the GOP’s modern-day voter suppression script.

David W. Blight is Sterling professor of American History at Yale University. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Blight, in reviewing David Zucchino’s recent book, Wilmington’s Lie, explains what happened in Wilmington at the conclusion of the nineteenth century, and why it happened. In fact, it was this country’s only successful coup d’etat, an unlawful and violent revolt by white Americans seeking to usurp power through intimidating and suppressing the black vote and thereby eliminating its impact in “a multi-racial government in the South’s most progressive Black-majority city.”

It’s an ugly story, but parts of it will seem very ... familiar.

That month there was a concerted, carefully planned, and successful effort to violently suppress the black vote, eliminate Black elected officials, and restore white control of the city of Wilmington, as well as the entire state, to the Democrats for the cause of white supremacy. Leaders of the coup employed tactics ranging from vicious newspaper propaganda and economic intimidation to arson and lynching. Dozens of African-Americans were killed and Black political life in the area was snuffed out in a matter of days: 126,000 Black men were on the voter rolls of North Carolina in 1896; by 1902, only 6,100 remained.

As Blight emphasizes, “The Democrats of 1898 in North Carolina had the same aims, and some of the same methods, as today’s Republican vote suppressors, scheming and spending millions of dollars to thwart the right to vote with specious claims about “voter fraud.”

Despite the North’s victory in the Civil War and despite Emancipation, North Carolina, like other Southern states in the years immediately following the war, began implementing Black Codes, which in essence reverted Blacks to near-slave status, and refused to ratify the 14th Amendment—granting African Americans citizenship and equal protection under the law. Those circumstances changed, at least on paper, when the state held a constitutional convention in 1868 under Reconstruction, granting blacks the right to vote. As Blight notes, from that day forward, Blacks were viewed by the state’s white supremacists as an existential menace, a “contagion to be wiped out.” The supremacist-dominated “Democrats” quickly regained the governorship, and began systematically imposing legal and procedural “ruses,” all with the specific intent of disqualifying Black voters.

Despite these efforts, Black citizens continued to assert and increase their political participation and power in North Carolina, particularly in the second Congressional district, which encompassed Wilmington, which had elected several Black aldermen and employed several Black policemen. The district itself also voted in its first Black representative, George H. White.

As Blight explains, this situation was unheard of and intolerable to many highly placed and powerful North Carolinians, including the owner-editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, the chair of the Democratic Party, and Alfred Waddell, another avowed white supremacist, propagandist “orator” and congressman. Waddell would, through his fiery speeches, evoke racist sentiments “that had working-class white men on their feet with their Winchester rifles held high.” 

At a rally before eight thousand people on November 7, Waddell called them to arms: “Go to the polls tomorrow,” he shouted, “and if you find the Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls. And if he refuses, kill him! Shoot him down in his tracks!” The campaign ran training sessions on how to stuff ballot boxes and met with employers to make sure white men had the day off to vote.

Waddell had help from a homegrown base of gun-toting racists who wore specific garb to identify themselves. They called themselves the “Red Shirts,” recognizable by their clothing, which was specifically intended to make the united racists both visible and intimidating.

With the help of thousands of “Red Shirts”—bands of heavily armed men adept at intimidation and ready to kill—they sought the liquidation of Black men from political life and the overthrow of the state of North Carolina. With arsenals of guns, big and small, the campaign declared its aims overtly; ... “We must either outcheat, outcount or outshoot them!” They accomplished all three ambitions.

Blight explains that the instigators of this concerted backlash against Black participation in democracy propagated a belief system that permeated much of the attitudes of the post-Civil War generation—that their (supposed) birthright had been threatened by freed slaves, who they believed had further “degenerated” by becoming “aggressive” toward white women. Everyone knows there has never been an excuse quite as handy and self-serving for white supremacists as defending the honor—and so-called chastity—of “their” white women. According to Blight, quoting historian Joel Williamson, “These lethal concoctions of race and sex in the minds of radical racists formed a ‘psychic core’... of a new, violent redemption.”

As Blight notes, such an association “drove political organization and white frenzy more than some [modern] readers may grasp.” Because It meant that Black men who were permitted the privilege of voting—or worse, governing—could compete for white women’s affections, a prospect which drove these insecure men into a frothing, uncontrollable rage. It was a rage that white supremacist demagogues played up to the hilt.  

In Wilmington, the spark that ignited this teeming mass of ginned-up anger was a man named Alexander Lightfoot Manly. The mixed race and well-educated grandson of a former North Carolina governor and one of his enslaved women, Manly nonetheless identified as Black. He founded the City of Wilmington’s only Black daily, and in 1895 published a column challenging the prevailing idea that any sexual union between white women and Black men could only be classified as “rape.” In the summer of 1898, responding to pro-lynching rant by the wife of another white supremacist congressman, he published a fateful editorial.

As described by D.G. Martin, in a piece written for the local CBS Radio affiliate, WCHL:

In response to a widely circulated assertion that the only solution to Black aggression against white women was lynching, Manly wrote, “Every Negro lynched is called a ‘big, burly Black brute,’ when in fact, many of those who have been dealt with had white men for their fathers and were not only ‘not Black and burly’ but were sufficiently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them, as is very well known to all.”

As noted by Blight, Manly also embellished his language with a taunt, writing that racist whites shouldn’t expect their daughters to “remain pure” while the white men around them continued “debauching” Black women.

This type of “insolent” attitude, coming from a Black man, was absolutely stupefying to white supremacists. Quoting Zucchino, Blight emphasizes that “A Black man had mocked the myths that had sustained whites for generations, piercing the buried insecurities of Southern white men.”  Responding to a frenzied push among the white population to lynch Manly and destroy his newspaper, the white supremacists who had been egging on anger against Blacks convinced white voters to express their fury on Election Day: Nov. 8, 1898.

And they did just that, establishing a template for what we now know as systematic, intimidating voter suppression.

Black men in Wilmington risked their lives to vote on November 8; only about half of those registered actually cast their ballots. Democrats stuffed ballot boxes in gerrymandered black precincts and destroyed Republican ballots while white men, as Zucchino puts it, “accosted Blacks at gunpoint in some wards, forcing them to turn back as they tried to reach polling stations.” In white neighborhoods, rumors spread of Black violence—rumors that Zucchino states were “pure fiction”: “Virtually all the armed men who remained on the streets throughout the night were white, not Black.”

One local white woman who kept a diary during the election noted that the whole effort was designed to intimidate Black (men) into “never vot[ing] again.” As a result, the white supremacist-inspired effort succeeded in winning the Democrats the election, and its instigators immediately instituted measures to force out the current government. The state’s media immediately praised the remarkable election results—lauding the coup and praising its leaders, while ignoring the concerted suppression and intimidation that caused it all.

Two days later, on Nov. 10, 500 white men gathered at the town’s armory and began their rampage, killing Blacks indiscriminately and destroying Black homes and Black-owned businesses. Their initial target was Alexander Manly. Upon being informed that Manly had escaped, they set fire to his newspaper office, posing for the picture that is at the top of this post. Blacks were shot in the back, many killed on their knees or in other humiliating positions. Many of the remaining Black residents fled into surrounding woods or swamps. No one was punished or prosecuted for these murders. The police chief, board of aldermen and mayor of Wilmington were summarily removed, essentially at gunpoint, and replaced by white supremacists, including Waddell—who was declared the new mayor.

As Blight notes, the impact of the Wilmington Massacre (he calls it a “pogrom”) was felt statewide, and determined the fate of North Carolina for decades to come. The coup leaders in Wilmington immediately began propagating the false story that Blacks had instigated the violence; those responsible for the actual violence went on to prominent political careers. In the state capital of Raleigh, Blight writes, “a wave of disfranchisement and other Jim Crow laws flowed from the state legislature,” and it would be decades before the state began to “unlearn” the lessons of that massacre.

And as the years passed, the mythology of a “virtuous” white supremacy and the “unworthiness” of the Black vote continued to be passed down from generation to generation, sometimes blatant, sometimes hidden, but always present, like a shadow, waiting patiently for yet another cynical demagogue to awaken and tap into the fears, grievances, and insecurities of another willing audience of pathetic, small-minded white men. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Teaching discomfort at UT Austin by Dr. Gloria González-Lopez

UT Sociology Professor Dr. Gloria González-Lopez writes on the discomfort of addressing difficult conversations like race and racism not solely in the classroom, but also in our professional lives when we bring up such topics in the presence of white professors. I happen to know that Dr. González-Lopez is a superb teacher, as I've had her present to the students in my own classroom, and am aware that her courses are hugely popular. Moreover, we are both affiliates of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies.

That said, this work is, without question, difficult and challenging, and can often result in lower teaching evaluations because these truths of race, racism, sexism, classism, and white supremacy are simply difficult to teach about and against.  

I like the concept advanced below of a "racial economy of emotions," advanced by Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva in his 2018 Presidential Address at the American Sociological Association. I myself take enormous comfort in knowing that our pedagogy saves lives.

Gracias, Gloria, for your many years of excellence in teaching at UT!

-Angela Valenzuela

Teaching discomfort at UT Austin

Editor's note: This column was submitted to the Texan by a member of the UT community.“What is your tribe?” an adult White woman of modest appearance asked me with authentic curiosity and a tone of respect as we shared the elevator at my mother’s nursing home before COVID-19 hit Texas. To her question, I simply replied, “I do not know,” feeling some sort of shyness, but deeply honored to be identified as Native American. “Are you Egyptian?” a man of color cleaning the entrance of one of our women’s restrooms on campus asked me with a similar, genuine curiosity last year. I replied with a soft smile and a gentle “No.” Being perceived as Indigenous or Middle Eastern is not new to me, and these experiences always fill my heart with special joy; my beloved paternal grandfather had both Indigenous and Middle Eastern ancestors. 

Life has informed my pedagogy. “Please look at my face with curiosity, can you find the Indigenous in me?” “Can you find the Middle Eastern?” “How about the Spanish, can you find it?” is an exercise I have used at times with my students when mestizaje as a concept emerges during our discussions on invasion, colonization and sexual violence across Mexican cultures. Many of my students rarely wait to share their own experiences of racism and discrimination as part of everyday life. Helping them explore connections between their own lived experiences of racism with research and critical theorizing on race, for example, has helped me explore ways to learn to teach about these sensitive topics. I know some inspirational professors of color on campus who use innovative pedagogies as well for the same purposes. 

From my students, I have learned to feel comfortable enough to use my own life experiences and shift from being “politically correct” to exploring an “emotionally correct” approach in class — being vulnerable while speaking one’s inner truth with compassion, honesty, self-respect, and respect for others. This professional evolution has helped me become sadly aware of the contrasting discomfort and apprehension — and at times visible fear — that some White professors and officials in positions of power and influence experience when the topic of race and racism comes up in our informal conversations, but also in more formal meetings and dialogues on campus. “White professors” includes United States Whites, as well as Whites from other nations, including those from Spanish-speaking countries. 

Today, writing this essay felt exhausting, but the “pedagogy of discomfort” proposed by scholars Megan Boler and Michalinos Zembylas gives me hope. Their approach is cited by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva to close his thought provoking reflections about racial justice in his moving article “Feeling Race: Theorizing the Racial Economy of Emotions.” Bonilla-Silva explained what such inspirational pedagogy would look like: It is one “that teaches Whites to ‘step outside of their comfort zones and recognize what and how one has been taught to see (or not to see).’” He argues, “Sociologists of color love sociology, but coping with White rule and its emotional repercussions is tough.” What would the pedagogy of discomfort look like at UT? 

González-López is a professor in the department of sociology.

The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year by Brett Anderson, NY Times


For those that will celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it's incumbent upon us all to give this story, this myth, and history a closer look, particularly as we think about the racial justice moment that we're in, along with the horrible impact of COVID on native peoples.

This in-depth, New York Times piece reminds us of the horrific killing of the buffalo as a way to kill Indians and with that, the taking of their land and resources, together with any memory of always being on Indigenous land. In this vein, I am proud of our UT students for insisting that the university incorporate a land acknowledgement in all UT programming as part of their 8 Demands in the wake of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings and the ensuing Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Although our schools mostly do not teach this history with not even college students getting it unless they happen to stumble into a course that does, we can all nevertheless individually educate ourselves through posts like these. Also worth reading is another pertinent 2016 piece published in The Atlantic titled, "'Kill Every Buffalo You Can! Every Buffalo Dead Is an Indian Gone.'  From the perspective of historical scholarship, there is no ambiguity in this brutal, violent history that Thanksgiving Day masks.

I would hope that we can all give thanks and acknowledge this enduring colonial legacy of which this day also happens to be about.

-Angela Valenzuela


For many Native Americans, the Covid-19 toll and the struggle over racial inequity make this high time to re-examine the holiday, and a cruel history.
Tailyr Irvine for The New York Times

FORT PECK INDIAN RESERVATION, Mont. — On a frigid November morning inside a tractor barn in northeast Montana, 10 members of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes joined in song to bless a thirty-aught-six hunting rifle, and to lift up the spirit of a buffalo they were preparing to kill. One man played a painted hand drum. Others passed around burning sage.

The hunt that followed took place on Turtle Mound Buffalo Ranch, 27,000 acres of rolling pasture on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Every stage of the hunt was marked by a ceremony to give thanks for a buffalo that descends from animals killed to near-extinction by white settlers in the late 19th century.

The mass killing was part of a government-approved effort to seize land from Native Americans who depended on the animal to survive. The brutality of settlers’ expansion into the Great Plains and American West has been drastically underplayed in popular myths about the founding and growth of the United States.

Arguably the best-known of those myths is the story of the first Thanksgiving, a holiday Robert Magnan, who led the buffalo hunt at Fort Peck, does not observe. “Thanksgiving is kind of like Columbus Day for Native people,” he said. “Why would we celebrate people who tried to destroy us?”

Buffalo grazing along a hill on the Turtle Mound Buffalo Ranch. They are part of a long-term effort to return bison to the lands they once roamed.
Tailyr Irvine for The New York Times

It is now widely accepted that the story of a friendship-sealing repast between white colonists and Native Americans is inaccurate. Articles debunking the tale have become as reliable an annual media ritual as recipes for cornbread stuffing.

But this year should be different, say Native American leaders, scholars and teachers.

The holiday arrives in the midst of a national struggle over racial justice, and a pandemic that has landed with particular force on marginalized communities of color. The crises have fueled an intense re-examination of the roots of persistent inequities in American life.

This Thanksgiving also comes on the heels of an election in which 110 American Indian and Alaska Native candidates ran for office, according to the National Congress of American Indians, and on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

Winona LaDuke, the Native American activist and writer who ran for vice president in 1996 and 2000 as Ralph Nader’s running mate, believes that the country is primed to re-envision Thanksgiving as an occasion to come to terms with the cruelty Native Americans have experienced throughout history.

"I've seen a growing awareness, a wake-up, to the systemic oppression of people of color,” said Ms. LaDuke, an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation. “There is a movement toward justice for Native people. People want to listen.”

Thanksgiving, of course, is a time for listening, a welcome opportunity for prayer, reflection and looking back, and many Indigenous people celebrate it in their own way. But the problem with its origin story, Ms. LaDuke and others say, goes beyond misrepresentations about what was served in Plymouth, Mass., in 1621. (There is no evidence that turkey was on the menu, and pie couldn’t have been, because there was no flour or butter available for crust.)

Monday, November 23, 2020

Bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers call on state to move toward canceling next year’s STAAR tests

This is excellent news. Now we need a longer-term approach that replaces this system with a research-based alternative that is also not about shaming and blaming kids, teachers, or schools, but that is fully about providing a comprehensive, developmental, asset-based perspective on student performance so that children—in their full humanity—cannot solely achieve, but thrive.

Accordingly, my UT doctoral students under the auspices of the Texas Center for Education Policy together with members of the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition (TLEEC), Texas LULAC, and Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA), are working on policy proposals that will help us to move in these precise directions as a state. 

This is, of course, very exciting, long overdue, and trending. I blogged on this nearly a year ago in this post, "The testing craze is fading in U.S. schools. Good. Here's what's next."

Please stay tuned. More to come soon.

Thanks to Rep. Diego Bernal and our educator organizations, including Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina, as well as other members of the legislature for voicing their concerns.

-Angela Valenzuela

@vlnzl @TxLatino #txlege #UTTCEP @NEA #ChildWelfare #MoreThanATest #SPED  #TxEd @FairTestOffice #standardizedtests #testing @NACCSTejasfoco @DisRightsTx #disabilities #specialneeds @IDRAedu @EdAustin_TX @utexascoe @LULAC @TxLULAC @SaveTXschools

Bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers call on state to move toward canceling next year’s STAAR tests

“I think there’s still a lot of question as to how we might pursue this,” Morath said. “We’ve got 10 or so different options, as it were, to consider. No final decision has been made as we gather feedback from folks.”
If Texas education officials move forward with STAAR in the spring, the group of 68 state representatives wants the TEA to set aside its traditional campus and district accountability framework.
“At most, any administration of the STAAR exam during the 2020-2021 school year should only serve as a diagnostic instrument to see where our students stand academically, as opposed to an assessment instrument to determine district and campus sanctions under the current A-F accountability system,” the legislators wrote.
The letter echoes some of the arguments made in recent months by educator organizations and unions, which lobbied against high-stakes standardized testing before the pandemic. Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said STAAR testing “should be the last priority” in schools.
“Our students, educators and their families can’t afford the distraction of STAAR as they struggle to stay safe and continue to adjust to new methods of teaching and learning,” Molina said in a statement Wednesday.
While education testing issues traditionally break largely along party lines, with Democrats more likely to oppose high-stakes exams, the bipartisan letter signaled broad concerns about STAAR and accountability in 2021. The Texas House has 150 members.
Fourteen Houston-area legislators signed the letter. The Democratic representatives were Alma Allen, Gina Calanni, Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez, Christina Morales, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Jon Rosenthal, Shawn Thierry, Senfronia Thompson and Gene Wu. The Republican representatives were Ernest Bailes, Briscoe Cain and Ed Thompson.
State Rep. Diego Bernal, a San Antonio Democrat and vice chair of the House Public Education Committee, organized and authored the message. The absence of legislators’ names on the letter does not necessarily mean they oppose the group’s position on STAAR.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hispanic flight from Austin tied to affordability, gentrification, experts say

Important piece on the topic of gentrification and how this particularly impacts Latina women. Check out this statement by UT Professor Dr. Alberto Martinez who is quoted within:

Martinez said the data also show that for every $1 a white man makes, Latinas make about 58 cents, which he said is also less than what Black women make (66 cents), white women make (80 cents) or Asian women make (97 cents).

A deeper issue, as referenced by Bertha Rendon Delgado whose family is from East Austin, the cultural erasure that accompanies gentrification is unconscionable, tearing into the soul of the community. This is very sad and tragic. Not only are the wealthy well positioned for this land grab, but as Dr. Martinez indicates, this dynamic is tied to the 58 cents to every dollar earned by Latina women relative to white men. 

We desperately need more education, better jobs, and salary equity in society.

-Angela Valenzuela

Hispanic flight from Austin tied to affordability, gentrification, experts say

Bertha Rendon Delgado said the East Austin neighborhood she grew up in isn’t what it used to be. The neighbors she once knew and houses that made up the area have slowly started to disappear.

Rising property taxes and the redevelopment of the neighborhood has pushed many families out, completely changing the face of the once thriving Chicano community, she said.

“Our culture has been struggling for centuries,” Delgado said, “And people don’t understand what has happened to my community.”

The East Town Lake neighborhood, which makes up part of Austin’s District 3, has faced an increase in property taxes and the cost of living — what many residents are seeing as gentrification — pushing many Hispanic families out.

The trend is happening all over the city, as more and more Hispanic families seek affordability outside of the Austin city limits.

Carlos A. Martinez, a spokesperson for the League of United Latin American Citizens, said Austin is a desirable city for people to live and work, and the more people move in, the higher the demand becomes for jobs and real estate.

But that is not good news for everyone.

“Austin is one of the most expensive places to live in Texas,” Martinez said. “And as more and more people move in, it becomes less and less attainable for working-class people.”

Hispanic families, which he said make up a good portion of the working class, move to places they can afford, but because they still work in Austin, their destinations tend to be neighboring Travis County communities such as Del Valle or Manor, or places adjacent to the county, such as Buda in Hays County or areas near the Williamson County line.

Priced out

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau information, while Austin’s overall population has grown about 23% over the last decade, its Hispanic population growth has become sluggish, growing only 10% since 2010. That is outpaced by both its Black and Asian populations, which grew 20% and 70%, respectively.

But what has become even more alarming, some say, is that Austin’s Hispanic population not only grew at a slower pace in the last decade, but since 2016 that population has started to shrink, dropping from 329,484 in 2016 to 318,016 in 2019, which is about 32.5% of the total Austin population. In 2010, Hispanics were about 36% of the city’s population.

Meanwhile, Austin’s neighboring cities and counties are seeing large increases in their Hispanic population. Cedar Park, Manor and Buda have seen more than 150% growth, far outpacing Hispanic population growth in Austin.

Statewide, the Hispanic population grew about 21%.

Alberto Martinez, a University of Texas history professor, said gentrification, property prices and the fact that Hispanics are lower wage earners contribute to this demographic shift.

He said Hispanics nationwide are making far less money annually than most other groups.

Data from the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey show a widening gap in median annual incomes. For white households, the median income sat at about $90,000 a year, and for Asian households it averaged about $95,000 a year, but the median income for Hispanic households was about $55,000 in 2020.

Martinez said the data also show that for every $1 a white man makes, Latinas make about 58 cents, which he said is also less than what Black women make (66 cents), white women make (80 cents) or Asian women make (97 cents).

As rising property prices and taxes strain the finances of working-class families, Austin-area home sales continue to soar even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

October data from the Austin Board of Realtors show the median price of a home in the five-county metro area was $365,000, and within Austin’s city limits, the median sales price was $441,250. That is more than a 13% increase compared with the same time last year.

“So this affects Latinas nationwide,” Martinez said. “Because when they receive their paychecks, on the whole, Latinas are making almost half as much. So for a single Latina mother, this means she can’t live in Austin. She’ll live in (Buda or Cedar Park) and then drive in to work every day.”

Finding a resolution

Enacting local policy changes could help solve this issue, Martinez said.

“It is not an accident that Latinos are being squeezed out of Austin” because they are in the low-income categories, he said. “But I think this can be solved if the City Council pays attention to working wages, property taxes and rental prices. Many Hispanics work in Austin but don’t live here, and that is because the city is pricing them out by not enacting policies that look after low-income workers.”

Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria, who represents Austin’s east and south central neighborhoods, said the council has been crafting a new process leading to new development rules for the city.

“Part of the problem is the way we appraise our land value here in Austin,” Renteria said. “What happens is that people have been paying huge amounts of money for land. So developers will come in and buy a house and tear down and build two houses on it and sell them for half a million dollars each.”

He said that then drives up property values, and therefore property taxes. For families who are already struggling to keep up with raising taxes, and people older than 65 and on a fixed income, affording their homes becomes more challenging. He said many longtime families of the area are renters, so when their landlord sells out, they get displaced.

That is why, he said, he has shifted his focus to high-density affordable housing, which he hopes to make available for not only low-income and working-class families, but for older residents as well. The goal is to recreate a Mueller-style area where 25% of homes are low-income housing.

“It breaks my heart to see people sell their homes; it’s very sad,” Renteria said. “And it’s been really hard to get the code changed, because we have gotten a lot of pushback from the community. But a new code could allow us to build more units on a (single) lot to support working-class and low-income families.”

After watching the community she loves slowly disappear, Delgado is now on a mission to preserve the original culture of thriving Hispanic families and businesses.Preserving Chicano culture

Delgado, who has lived on Haskell Street for nearly her entire life, said the only traces of the Latino culture that defined the neighborhood are the few murals on the walls of the defunct Holly Street Power Plant that tell stories about the strength of the Chicano people.

She has joined other local artists in spearheading community art projects through Arte Texas, a group dedicated to restoring and preserving street art and graffiti murals.

But even that effort has been a challenge, she said, as more people move into the area, pushing out and erasing the original families who made up the neighborhood.

“Our neighborhood is being gentrified more every day, and it has become increasingly more difficult to keep and restore our art,” Delgado said. “When new people move in, they want to see what they want to see, so they start to erase our murals and us.”

But nothing will stop her from finding ways and resources to preserve the area’s original culture, she said. Delgado continues to work with the city and local artists to preserve the art.

She also is working on obtaining a real estate license, so she can help families invest in their homes while trying to unite the community and bridge the divide between the new and legacy families.

“The character of our neighborhood has slowly vanished, and the division here has never been more real,” Delgado said. “But we don’t want to be erased and our history to be lost. I want the music, food and residents to still remain, and I want tranquility and peace for us all, so that we can all enjoy what we all worked so hard for.”

A guide to Austin coronavirus restriction stages: What’s open, closed and what they mean

Wow! It should really mean something, my friends, to us all that we are STAGE 4 here in Austin, Texas. In fact, this should be alarming.

As you can see from this chart, it's telling us to stay home and not socialize in "groups" greater than two--yes, two! We have lost too many people we love already.  Just because it's an imperfect science or the odds might seem worth playing, doesn't mean that any of us should take unnecessary risks as laid out in the chart below. 

If we get too sick as a nation, this will delay our getting the much-needed vaccine. Why? Because our health care system will be preoccupied with patient care and they're the same ones that will deliver the vaccine. 

I like to get out as much as anybody, but my family is staying put for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Do go to this specific page from the Austin American-Statesman (Nov. 18, 2020) to view directly the charts appearing below—and keep going to it as they'll be updating it.  

And STAY SAFE everybody!

-Angela Valenzuela

Friday, November 20, 2020

Socially just curriculum by Alexis Gonzales, CU Boulder's Ed Talks

Awesome video! So proud of this young woman, Alexis Gonzales, a first-generation, recent Latina college graduate from CU Boulder 2020! Her talk is on the power of, and necessity for, socially just, anti-racist curriculum, calling for a radical policy shift. 

This, of course, is less a technical matter than an ideological and political one. It means up-ending white supremacy, beginning with breaking one's silence to preserve the status quo, while also disrupting systems of oppression, including what we have come to know and experience as the oppressive, violent, assimilationist "official curriculum," as University of Wisconsin Professor Michael Apple (2014) has researched and theorized throughout his numerous writings. If you have any question as to either its origins or violence, look no further than American Indian Boarding School experience (see "America Reframed: Blood Memory," a powerful documentary in this regard).

In this magnificent EdTalk, Alexis models how this gets done. We liberate ourselves by speaking and writing our truths, sharing our testimonios of injustice while unapologetically declaring our dreams, wishes and desires for a better world.  To this, I would add that we engage in policy struggles, even as we enunciate new values-based, redemptive realities into existence, mapping on to Alexis' "If-I-Could-Change-the-World" vision of a new society.

What you hear and see in this presentation is what needs to happen everywhere.  Oh, wait. It is happening everywhere—that is, everywhere you have an Ethnic Studies classroom that is culturally sustaining, inclusive, nurturing, and edifying. For example, this recently-published piece by Maribel Falcón titled, "'Never Without a Fight': How Texas Has Stood Up for Ethnic Studies," one learns of the profound and sublime impact of Ms. Celinda De La Fuentes' teaching on students in her literature classroom at John Jay High School in San Antonio. A must-read. It is all so very moving.

As we think of "white supremacy," a way to process this concept—that can at times, shut down conversation, and thusly, thought—is through the lens of research-based, Ethnic Studies, socially just curricula. There are different approaches, so knowing the history and background to this field of study is important. I have blogged many such posts in that regard.

With young people like Alexis, our future is in excellent hands. Alexis calls for what we have been calling for in the Ethnic Studies Movement for at least 50 years. This is abundantly documented, theorized, and historicized. I am with Alexis and very hopeful that we can embark on significant, meaningful change to scale. 

I am hopeful that we can someday in the future look back on this moment and interpret this groundswell of advocacy for racially just, culturally sustaining education as one of demanding an education that gave every single child access to their full humanity in a world where this is consistent with the right to difference in a democracy. Don't we all want this precious knowledge that democratizes and breathes new life into our schools?

As minoritized peoples, here in these United States, we have a long history of calling for racial justice curriculum and pedagogy in our schools.  This is a an imagined future where our identities, cultures, languages, discourses,  and contributions to society get substantively recognized, respected, and represented in art, history, literature, media, books, the sciences, curriculum, television, technology, and so on. 

However, we cannot get there unless we heed Alexis' and our University of Texas students' call—in the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement—to re-think not only our public school, but also our college-level curricula by fully incorporating what we are calling for here in Texas, namely, well-resourced, "Comprehensive Ethnic Studies." Someday, I trust, this will just be called "a good education."

Congratulations both to Alexis and her professor, Dr. Margarita Bianco, for nurturing the clear, cogent voices of our youth through the Pathways2Teaching, life-saving work that you do, Dr. Bianco. 

We all celebrate Alexis' stellar accomplishments! 💗💗💗

-Angela Valenzuela


Apple, M. W. (2014). Official knowledge: Democratic education in a conservative age. Routledge.