Thursday, September 29, 2022

"Vouchers: The 'Lost Cause' Fight of Our Generation" by Jaime Puente


This historic perspective on vouchers by Jaime Puente published on the Every Texan blog is a must-read. We must push back vigorously against this white supremacist agenda that is poised to be a major issue in the coming 88th Texas Legislative Session in January, 2023.

-Angela Valenzuela 

Vouchers: The "Lost Cause" Fight of Our Generation

'Taco Truck Tammy' incident sparks protest—with mariachi music and tacos


This 2019 story and video on "Taco Truck Tammy"  has gone viral several times over. The draw is that it's obviously not your usual
demonstration—as it brought together protesters, a mariachi group, a Black minister, and yes, free tacos—challenging Tammy's xenophobia expressed toward a taco truck operator in a Lakewood Dallas neighborhood. This played out when this Anglo woman named "Tammy" didn't appreciate the taco truck parked in her neighborhood and even threatened to call ICE on the Mexican workers working on the truck, as well as on a nearby home construction project.

Kudos to the LULAC Dallas chapter for coordinating this creative response to racism that promotes awareness, intercultural appreciation, and yes, a centering of the legendary Mexican taco whose popularity has traveled to the far-reaches of the planet. Heck, tacos are sold in Beijing, China, such that attacking it as a symbol is not just racist, but not really grasping its importance as an internationally-favored food item. 

Tammy's response? She said that she hoped the protesters had a "fabulous time." Great work LULAC! Fighting back hostility with culture is a great strategy for the future.

-Angela Valenzuela


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Latino political power must grow with population: Texas School Principals Must Serve as Deputy Voter Registrars

Given the seriousness of this issue, I am complimenting this piece with information on what Texas' high school principals can do to get out the vote (Title 1, Part 4, Chapter 81, Subchapter A, Rule §81.7).

"School Principals Must Serve as Deputy Voter Registrars

State law requires all high school principals to serve as deputy voter registrars, a duty that requires distribution of voter application forms to students who are or will be 18 years old during the school year. Download a high school voter registration card order form.

How Can You Comply with Law to Help Students Register to Vote During a Pandemic?

High schools are legally required to offer students who will be 18 by Election Day the opportunity to register to vote. One easy method is to send out the following message to those students: “Our records show that you are 18 years of age or will be 18 by Election Day. In Texas, you may register to vote at 17 years, 10 months! If you have a printer, fill out and mail in an application found at No printer? No problem! You may fill out a voter registration application at and have it mailed to you.”

Voting Resources from Raise Your Hand Texas

Visit this Raise Your Hand Texas’ webpage to make your voting plan and learn more about the candidate" (TASA, 2022, from Voting Elections Toolkit)

In short, principals, this message is for you to get your 18-year old students to register to vote. You're empowered by Texas state law to do this.

Parents of high school students should further insist that this happen. This one change in great numbers can begin to shift things in our state.

-Angela Valenzuela

Latino political power must grow with population

The future could be in the hands of young voters

The popularity of Bad Bunny, a Puerto Rican singer whose fans filled AT&T Stadium last Saturday should not come as a surprise in 2022: This past week, the census revealed that Latinos, for the first time, surpassed white residents as the state’s largest group.

This expected, yet long-awaited milestone comes with a caveat: Hispanics are still underrepresented in voting numbers and elected representatives.

There were 5.5 million eligible Hispanic voters in 2018 and 2.8 million were registered voters, but only 1.9 million went to the polls, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The trend has not changed since and, currently, there are only 45 Latino legislators in a body of 181 members. The Texas delegation in Congress has 36 representatives and just seven are Hispanic.

In 2018, a poll conducted by Jolt Texas, a left-leaning voter mobilization group, identified some reasons for this Latino apathy, ranging from mistrust of the political process to lack of information about the elections.

There is also another factor affecting these numbers: About 2.25 million voting-age Latinos in the state are not citizens.

Luis Fraga, from the Institute for Latino Studies in Notre Dame, has said that focusing on Latino voters in states like Texas is a good strategy for the future, but “campaigns are made with short-term decisions.”

Regardless of party politics, getting Hispanics to vote remains a challenge. As a voting bloc, they have been taken for granted by Democrats and ignored by Republicans, although this might be changing: There are signs in South Texas that conservative Latinos can be elected.

But also, Hispanics have not been consistent in developing leaders for political positions that can be appealing to all voting groups.

A recent effort that unfortunately was phased out in 2018 was the Latino Center for Leadership Development in Dallas which became a pipeline for leaders like Dallas City Council member Jaime Resendez, state Rep. Victoria Neave, Dallas ISD trustee Joe Carreon and former Dallas ISD board president Miguel Solis, among others.

This younger generation of leaders is already leaving its mark in Texas politics, all the more reason to invest in initiatives like this one.

Investing in future leaders is on par with educational opportunities and economic improvement, with clear sights on the younger state population.

Hispanics now represent 40.2% of Texans, while non-Hispanic whites account for 39.4%, according to the new census numbers. But among Texas children, they are even a larger group: 49.3% of Texans under the age of 18 are Latino.

In other words, those Bad Bunny fans may have the power to change Texas politics in the future, if we can get them to vote.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Welcome to Academia Cuauhtli: A Social Architecture of Caring (cariño)" [VIDEO]

I am happy to share this video created by one of our Academia Cuauhtli maestras (teachers), Liliana Batista-Rodriguez whose regular job as a dual language teacher is at Harris Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District. 

It's so fulfilling running this escuelita (school) that represents a third space between the over-prescribed space of the school and the under-prescribed space of the home where freedom and liberation can be experienced. Texas State University professor, Dr. Chris Milk, and I call this a "social architecture of cariño" (caring). Dr. Milk has done a masterful job in working with the teachers during the summer months to develop an anti-racist, social justice, identity-centered curriculum that uplifts our children, parents, and community.

Our teachers, as a whole, are really strong in their view that their chief task is to prepare these children to navigate the complexities of school settings. This is SO important for children that are first-generation, working class immigrants whose parents are frequently invisible to our school systems. Our parents, on the other hand express, "Yo no quiero que mi hija (o hijo) pierdan su cultura (I don't want my daughter or son to lose their culture).

Ours is a curriculum that combines socioemotional learning, Ethnic Studies, and languages, meaning Spanish language development and basic Nahuatl. 

Our symbol is the eagle, or "cuauhtli," in Nahuatl. It inspires us to great heights, a special calling and opportunity for those in our community that oppose subtractive schooling, meaning the ways in which schools take away as a matter of course the actual strengths of language, community, and identity that these children bring with them to school. A first step is getting them to acknowledge just how powerful they are when these are centered.


-Angela Valenzuela

DeSantis' Actions Towards Migrants More Than a Political Stunt. They're a Sign of the Danger to Come.

Chilling critique by journalist Melissa del Bosque of Ron deSantis' and Greg Abbott's recent behavior toward immigrants.  It points out a dangerous slippery slope of treating "undesirable" human beings inhumanely—"as problems to dump on others"as "dangerous territory.” Del Bosque makes appropriate reference to an earlier history when  White Citizens Councils set up "Reverse Freedom Rides," or one-way tickets to northern cities—together with false promises of jobs and housing—mirroring the exact same scheme we just observed with Venezuelan refugees coming through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abbott's widely-criticized, taxpayer-funded "Operation Lone Star" is further excessive and unnecessary and indeed amounts to a "state-funded 'shadow criminal legal system.'" What we need are not only policy solutions, but real leaders willing to engage in these, willing to engage in actual statesmanship as opposed to political gamesmanship at the expense of vulnerable people's lives. Unless we vote these fascist autocrats out of office, we're indeed in for dangerous times. 

-Angela Valenzuela


Immigrant Legal Resources Center (2021, Dec. 15). Civil Rights Organizations Allege Texas’ Operation Lone Star Targets and Punishes Migrants with Discriminatory Shadow Criminal Legal System: Complaint Alleges Racial Profiling, Biased Policing, Anti-Immigrant Animus

DeSantis' Actions Towards Migrants More Than a Political Stunt. They're a Sign of the Danger to Come.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott are in a duel between the old Confederacy and modern authoritarianism.

Updated 9:39 PM EDT, Sat September 17, 2022

Analysis: DeSantis is using people as pawns. Hear how it might help him politically

On Sunday, Florida governor Ron DeSantis received a standing ovation in Kansas at a rally coordinated by the right-wing group Turning Point Action, after joking about sending two planeloads of asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard last week.

“The one place in our country where we see no law and order is the southern border,” DeSantis told the audience. “It’s now getting a little more attention,” he said with a grin as people rose to their feet to applaud him. “This is a crisis. And it’s a manufactured crisis because of Biden’s failed policies.”

DeSantis was on a national tour through the heartland organized by Turning Point Action, as he primes America for his 2024 presidential run. Cruelty toward immigrants and fearmongering about the border are central to DeSantis’s brand. This was demonstrated last week, when Venezuelan asylum seekers in Texas were told by political operatives that they’d receive jobs and assistance if they boarded flights to the small island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Two planes chartered by DeSantis picked up the migrants in San Antonio, Texas, according to NPR. From there they flew to the Florida Panhandle with stops in North and South Carolina, before landing in Martha’s Vineyard.

It makes sense that both Texas and Florida are involved in this cynical plot, weaponizing desperation and dehumanizing asylum seekers for political gain. Both DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott are invested in their own brand of dangerous, antidemocratic ideology, as they compete with each other on the national stage.

Watching these two in action from the border, I’ve been trying to grasp the larger historical machinations of what DeSantis and Abbott are working toward shipping people like cargo around the country. An assessment by historian Heather Cox Richardson in her newsletter Letters from an American helped me understand the broader implications of this nasty cruelty match that Abbott and DeSantis are playing in their bid to undermine democracy. One uses an old ideology, while the other’s is altogether new—at least to the United States—and possibly far more dangerous due to its novelty.

Since Biden was elected, Abbott has been building on the old states’ rights ideology of the Confederacy—an ideology steeped in racism that Americans, unfortunately, know all too well. His busing of migrants—the latest to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home last week—echo the old southern segregationists who lied to Black southerners about jobs and housing in the north, sending them on “reverse freedom rides.”

While in office, Trump constantly used states’ rights as a form of attack, writes Cox Richardson. “First to justify destroying business regulation, social welfare legislation, and international diplomacy, and then to absolve the federal government from responsibility for combating the coronavirus pandemic,” she writes. “Then, of course, the January 6 insurrection saw state legislatures refusing to accept the results of a federal election and rioters carrying the Confederate flag into the United States Capitol.”

With his Operation Lone Star, Abbott has built what legal experts call a state-funded “shadow criminal legal system” that targets black and brown migrants for jail and arrest under state misdemeanor charges for trespassing, thus bypassing federal immigration authority. Even though the country is not at war, Abbott has deployed hundreds of police and soldiers into communities of color at the border, continually playing up the idea that the region is under invasion. This rhetoric has spurred acts of domestic terrorism, including the 2019 mass shooting in a Wal-Mart in El Paso that killed 23 Latinos.

The Supreme Court ruled that states cannot carry out immigration enforcement. Yet, Abbott has continued to build his state-funded, multibillion-dollar immigration apparatus, and in July he issued an executive order authorizing soldiers and state police to detain and transport migrants to the border, stopping short of physically pushing them back into Mexico.

While Abbott is flying the Confederate flag, DeSantis is modeling himself after Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

In August, Orbán was the keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, where he noted that both the U.S. presidential election and European parliamentary elections will be held in 2024. “These two locations will define the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization,” he said. “Today, we hold neither of them. Yet we need both.”

In Orbán’s Hungary, independent media are surveilled and censored, and businesses that fail to support his political party are harassed and punished financially. Orbán has also withheld funding from cities that do not support him politically. He frequently demonizes marginalized groups, sowing fear, then passes sweeping laws, including one recent anti-LGBTQ law that compared homosexuality with pedophilia, to further restrict freedoms and tighten his control.

As Cox Richardson wrote about the authoritarian leader, “Orbán has been open about his determination to overthrow the concept of western democracy, replacing it with what he has, on different occasions, called ‘illiberal democracy’ or ‘Christian democracy.’ He wants to replace the equality at the heart of democracy with religious nationalism.”

DeSantis has clearly been watching closely. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to those who have studied Hungary’s lurch toward authoritarianism, say it was modeled after Hungary’s legislation. When Disney, which has been in the state for decades, issued a statement condemning the anti-gay bill and saying that it would suspend political donations to DeSantis, he retaliated by revoking the corporation’s tax exemption—a move that mimicked Orbán’s strong arm and retaliatory tactics.

And like Orbán, DeSantis, is using fearmongering over immigration to achieve similar autocratic and antidemocratic goals. His latest action last week shows just how far he’s willing to go. As David Livingstone Smith, a scholar who studies the Holocaust, told the Guardian on Monday, “What frightens me most, actually, is that someone who does these sort of acts is capable of doing much worse. As soon as you start treating human beings as undesirable problems to dump on others, you are in very dangerous territory.”

Globally, the number of displaced people is growing, as climate change, Covid-wrecked economies, and authoritarian regimes take hold. With the dangerous and authoritarian moves by Abbott and DeSantis, dehumanizing and weaponizing desperate asylum seekers for political gain, I thought of the asylum seekers trapped, freezing and without food, in the forest at the border between Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania last year. Several of them died. They were drawn by another authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, who had falsely led the migrants there in retaliation against neighboring countries’ support of a pro-democracy movement to oust him.

Sadly, the actions of DeSantis and Abbott are not unique but part of a troubling and growing global trend toward authoritarianism. And their actions should be recognized as such. DeSantis’s actions last week were more than a political stunt to capture the nation’s attention. They were a sign of the danger to come.