Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Our Wins at the 88th Texas Legislative Session, by Carla Palacios, Texas Civil Rights Project Mag

Good news from Carla Palacios from the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and other organizations like LUPE RGV. Folks need to know that our advocacy community really turned out to defend civil rights. This report focuses on the specific work of the TCRP. I'm hoping that the bills that passed became law, that is, weren't vetoed by Gov. Abbott. That said, we need to celebrate these victories, particularly the many organizations and truly large numbers of youth that stood up against unjust, horrible bill proposals.

There is a good story about HB 20 and HB 7 below and the hundreds of individuals that testified together with a strategy of occupying bill author Rep. Guillen's office, thwarting its passage. It would have established a Texas Rangers border force that is unnecessary considering that it would not only have further militarized and already militarized border, but that U.S.-immigration policy is a federal matter. 

I'm not saying that the federal government is handling matters correctly but rather that further militarization is not the answer, particularly in light of Gov. Abbott's already existing taxpayer-funded Operation Lone Star that has been widely criticized. For example, read this October 7 2021 piece by Jasper Scherer in the San Antonio Express-News piece titled, Chaotic rollout of Gov. Abbott's migrant arrest plan fuels confusion, claims of violated rights.

Our community cannot rest on its laurels, however, as these bills have a way of resurrecting in subsequent sessions, as well as in campaign rhetoric by aspiring, albeit extremist, political candidates.

At least for now, an encouraging update from the TCRP. 

-Angela Valenzuela

Our Wins at the 88th Texas Legislative Session

by Carla Palacios TCRP Mag | June 15, 2023

The regular legislative session in Texas has officially ended, and while we are in the midst of a special session related to property taxes and enhancing smuggling charges at the border to harsh levels, we are preparing for additional special sessions this summer.

While the 88th regular session doubled down on racist, xenophobic, transphobic, and homophobic attempts to undermine Texans' civil rights, many advocates from across the state were at the capitol every day, fighting vehemently against harmful legislation that would impact their communities. In the short span of 140 days of the legislative session, our team testified on bills at committee hearings, submitted written testimony, and registered official positions over 200 times on 180+ bills related to our issue areas.

This session, we had some wins, some losses, and some bills we expect to see again soon in a special session. This blog will highlight the victories our programs achieved while working to protect Texans' civil rights during the regular session.

Criminal Injustice

Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick both prioritized increasing pretrial detention, which would keep people in jail for longer periods of time without bail, and removing "rogue district attorneys." These priorities were part of a session theme: undermining local control.

Whether that's through removing elected prosecutors or undermining local control of voting, the state of Texas is looking to impose state priorities on local communities.

SJR 44 and SB 1318, which died in the regular session, would have increased the number of Texans in pretrial detention. However, the battle to kill these bills continues, as both are on Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's short list for a special session.

Additionally, we were deeply disappointed to see efforts to abolish the five youth prisons in Texas fail during this session. However, we supported two bills that passed that aim to keep youth out of the criminal system.

Juvenile curfews don’t work and further criminalize youth in our communities. We were pleased to find that HB 1819, which prohibits juvenile curfews, passed and is headed to the governor’s desk. Additionally, HB 3186, which expands access to youth diversion programs to keep kids out of jails, is also headed to the governor.

Texas prisons are notorious for being among the worst in the country, and Texas is still far from providing humane conditions for incarcerated Texans. We had a few good bills that would provide humane relief for those incarcerated headed to the governor’s desk:

HB 1455 would provide health insurance for individuals who are wrongfully convicted and their dependents.

Food insecurity is very common among people recently released from custody, with 37% reporting not eating for at least one full day because of a lack of resources. Up to 70% of households report having trouble meeting basic needs after incarceration. HB 1743 ensures that incarcerated Texans can apply for supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits at the time of discharge or release.

Additionally, SB 1146 establishes procedures for the medical transport of women in TDCJ custody. Women in TDCJ care enter with underlying health conditions that increase their need for quality, dignified care, and current policies often leave women facing a choice between accessing needed care or suffering deeply humiliating conditions.

Beyond Borders

We saw some of the worst attacks on border communities during the regular session this year, all with one thing in common: further militarizing the Texas border.

The worst legislation originally came in the form of HB 20 and HB 7, with both bills continuously morphing into different versions of other failed, bad border legislation throughout their journeys across the House and Senate chambers.

HB 20, which intended to create a vigilante border force in Texas, was killed in the House debate but later resurfaced in the form of a substituted HB 7.

HB 7 similarly went through many changes throughout its life cycle. Originally starting out as a bill to codify and fund a new border court system to conduct Operation Lone Star related prosecutions, its most recent version would establish a “border force” under the Texas Rangers.

LUPE RGV and allies drop banner in front of Rep. Guillen’s office (author of HB 7), May 9, 2023

Nevertheless, advocates and allies across the state showed up to express their dissent and opposition to these bills. From hundreds of Texans signing up for public testimony at committee hearings to border community members occupying space at Rep. Guillen’s Capitol office to demand accountability for his harmful bill, HB 7, we saw mobilization efforts against these bills that underscored one thing: this is NOT what Texans want for our communities.

Thankfully, HB 7 did not advance before the formal close of regular session, Sine Die. However, in the first called special session that we are currently in, unfortunately many bills have been filed that revive these dead, dangerous border bills. Specifically, SB 8, which would try to create a state “border force,” and HB 2 and SB 2, which would impose state-level penalties for immigrants desperately seeking refuge and safety.

While our Beyond Borders team is still fighting against these harmful bills in special session, we celebrate the passage of HB 3323, which would empower border communities by creating a food system security council and resiliency planning council.

Voting Rights

Our Voting Rights team was hard at work this session to protect the right to vote despite lawmakers' attempts to intimidate voters and make the ballot box less accessible.

One big win we achieved was the passing of SB 477, which made a number of improvements for voters with disabilities! These improvements include: bumping voters with mobility disabilities to the front of the line, reserving two parking places at each polling place for curbside voting and adding clear signage, and requiring county websites to post mail ballot applications so that voters can fill them out online before printing.

Youth Take Over Rally at the Capitol, March 29, 2023

Additionally, HB 357 made the mail-in ballot tracker more user-friendly by changing the way voters look up their ballot.

A bad bill, HB 1243, tried to increase the penalty for illegal voting and attempted illegal voting and reduce the intent requirement for those crimes to not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a voter actually knew they were illegally voting. We advocated against this bill, and while it did pass, we successfully removed the intent requirement reduction from the Senate version of the bill so that it could not target voters for making innocent mistakes.

A special shoutout to our attorneys and advocates who worked nonstop to defend the civil rights of Texans this session. From being at the Capitol for over 12 hours waiting to testify on legislation to breaking down the complexities of the bills for the public, your hard work is crucial to creating a better future for Texas!

We also want to thank everyone who engaged with our legislative updates and showed up at the Capitol to make their voices heard! Your solidarity fuels us. La Lucha Sigue!

We will update final bill movements from the upcoming special session(s) as we receive them, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Happy Juneteenth! Excellent history lesson by Dr. Heather Cox Richardson

 June 18, 2023 (Sunday)

by Heather Cox-Richardson, Ph.D.

Tomorrow is the federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, the celebration of the announcement in Texas on June 19th, 1865, that enslaved Americans were free.
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant of the U.S. Army, but it was not until June 2 that General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department, the last major army of the Confederacy, to the United States, in Galveston, Texas. Smith then fled to Mexico.
Seventeen days later, Major General Gordon Granger of the U.S. Army arrived to take charge of the soldiers stationed there. On June 19, he issued General Order Number 3. It read:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
The order went on: “The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
While the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishing enslavement except as punishment for a crime had passed through Congress on January 31, 1865, and Lincoln had signed it on February 1, the states were still in the process of ratifying it.
So Granger’s order referred not to the Thirteenth Amendment, but to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, which declared that Americans enslaved in states that were in rebellion against the United States “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons.” Granger was informing the people of Galveston that, Texas having been in rebellion on January 1, 1863, their world had changed. The federal government would see to it that, going forward, white people and Black people would be equal.
Black people in Galveston met the news Order No. 3 brought with celebrations in the streets, but emancipation was not a gift from white Americans. Black Americans had fought for the United States and worked in the fields to grow cotton the government could sell. Those unable to leave their homes had hidden U.S. soldiers, while those who could leave indicated their hatred of the Confederacy and enslavement with their feet. They had demonstrated their equality and their importance to the postwar United States.
The next year, after the Thirteenth Amendment had been added to the Constitution, Texas freedpeople gathered on June 19, 1866, to celebrate with prayers, speeches, food, and socializing the coming of their freedom. By the following year, the federal government encouraged “Juneteenth” celebrations, eager to explain to Black citizens the voting rights that had been put in place by the Military Reconstruction Act in early March 1867, and the tradition of Juneteenth began to spread to Black communities across the nation.
But white former Confederates in Texas were demoralized and angered by the changes in their circumstances. “It looked like everything worth living for was gone,” Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight later recalled.
In summer 1865, as white legislators in the states of the former Confederacy grudgingly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, they also passed laws to keep freedpeople subservient to their white neighbors. These laws, known as the Black Codes, varied by state, but they generally bound Black Americans to yearlong contracts working in the fields owned by white men; prohibited Black people from meeting in groups, owning guns or property, or testifying in court; outlawed interracial marriage; and permitted white men to buy out the jail terms of Black people convicted of a wide swath of petty crimes, and then to force those former prisoners into labor to pay off their debt.
In 1865, Congress refused to readmit the Southern states under the Black Codes, and in 1866, congressmen wrote and passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Its first section established that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” It went on: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
That was the whole ball game. The federal government had declared that a state could not discriminate against any of its citizens or arbitrarily take away any of a citizen’s rights. Then, like the Thirteenth Amendment before it, the Fourteenth declared that “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article,” strengthening the federal government.
The addition of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 remade the United States. But those determined to preserve a world that discriminated between Americans according to race, gender, ability, and so on, continued to find workarounds.
On Friday, June 16, 2023, the Department of Justice—created in 1870 to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment—released the report of its investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the City of Minneapolis in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a police officer. The 19-page document found systemic “conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law,” discriminating against Black and Native American people, people with behavioral health disabilities, and protesters. Those systemic problems in the MPD’s institutional culture enabled Floyd’s killing.
Minneapolis police performed 22% more searches, 27% more vehicle searches, and 24% more uses of force on Black people than on white residents behaving in similar ways. They conducted 23% more searches and used force 20% more on Indigenous Americans.
The Justice Department’s press release specified that the city and the police department “cooperated fully.” The two parties have “agreed in principle” to fix the problem with sweeping reforms based on community input, with an independent monitor rather than litigation.
While the Senate unanimously approved the measure creating the Juneteenth holiday last year, fourteen far-right Republicans voted against it, many of them complaining that such a holiday would be divisive.
How we remember our history matters.
[General Order No. 3, National Records and Archives Administration, public domain.]

Somos Academia Cuauhtli, la academia de la ágilas. Somos los líderes de hoy y mañana! ["We are Academia Cuauhtli, eagle academy. We are the leaders of today and tomorrow."]

Check out our video in Spanish on Academia Cuauhtli. Translated into English, the title is "We are Academia Cuauhtli, eagle academy. We are the leaders of today and tomorrow."

I can never say enough about Academia Cuauhtli in Austin, Texas. I am so proud of what we have accomplished in 10 years, including our current coding and danza summer camp and La Colaborativa Cuauhtli, that with the generous assistance of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at UT, brings teams of bilingual Spanish/English teachers to Mexico to explore partnerships and explore ways to transform the curriculum and modes of teaching in U.S. elementary school classrooms. This summer, nine teachers will be joining us here in Guanajuato, Mexico, where Dr. Emilio Zamora and I are scholars in residence at Resplandor International, an initiative of Dr. Todd Fletcher and the University of Arizona.

It's time soon to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Co-founder Dr. Emilio Zamora provides a pretty good description here.

I just love this description of Academia Cuauhtli by maestra Liliana Batista-Rodriguez in this video. Visit us at

Like us on Facebook, too:


-Angela Valenzuela


Nunca puedo compartir lo suficiente sobre nuestra escuelita, Academia Cuauhtli, en Austin, Texas. Estoy muy orgullosa de lo que hemos logrado en 10 años, incluyendo nuestro Aztech Kidz Coding Camp (campamento de codificación y danza Mexica) y La Colaborativa Cuauhtli, que con el generoso apoyo del Instituto Lozano Long de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Tejas en Austin, trae equipos de maestros bilingües español/inglés a México para explorar alianzas y formas de transformar el currículo y los modos de enseñanza en las escuelas primarias de EE. UU. Este verano, nueve maestros se unirán a nosotros aquí en Guanajuato, México, donde el Dr. Emilio Zamora y yo actualmente somos becarios residentes en Resplandor International, una iniciativa del Dr. Todd Fletcher y la Universidad de Arizona.

Pronto es hora de celebrar nuestro décimo aniversario. El co-fundador, el Dr. Emilio Zamora, provee una descripción bastante buena aquí.

Me encanta esta descripción de Academia Cuauhtli por la maestra Liliana Batista en este video de 

Visítanos en

 Facebook también:

¡Disfrute el video!

-Ángela Valenzuela

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Emerging Anti-MAGA Majority Wake up: Trump has fundamentally reshaped the electorate. This is good news for the fight against MAGA fascism.

Excellent analysis by Michael Podhorzer of an emerging anti-MAGA majority. This majority did not come into being because of 2016 voters switched sides in casting their votes in 2020. Instead, this was an artifact of a new, anti-MAGA majority who turned out to the polls—after not having voted in 2016. Podhorzer notes that
"Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory triggered the greatest increase in voting in midterms in American history and nearly the greatest increase for presidential elections. Turnout in the last three elections has literally been off the charts."
It's encouraging to see that young people—Gen Z and Millenials—are voting more as they age than prior generations. Also, those that didn't vote either for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in 2016 returned to the polls, including young white youth whose vote aligns less with their more pro-MAGA parents. Plus, these combinations of voters are more diverse than prior elections, giving these segments of the electorate an edge in 2020.

Podhorzer is correct in noting that we remain a divided nation—and how this is more the rule than the exception in our nation's history. I encourage you to also read Ronald Brownstein, who cites Podhorzer, in this June 24, 2022 article in The Atlantic titled, "America Is Growing Apart, Possibly for GoodThe great “convergence” of the mid-20th century may have been an anomaly."

Podhorzer and Brownstein both point to the mid-twentieth century Great Society and civil rights reforms as the exception, rather than the rule. That is, the norm in U.S. history is division. I would like to push back on this and suggest that another interpretation, namely, that robust policy and political movements make a difference in people's lives, consciousness, and the well-being of our nation.

The good news is that we can relax a bit from all the doom and gloom reports that unlike Podhorzer, rely on polls instead of actual voting behavior, of voters leaning into fascist leaders. This means that Democrats' best route to victory—most particularly in purple states—is to focus on differentiating themselves from a party with, in his words, a "fascist movement’s agenda." 

In the meantime, as educators, we need to continue educating the next generation in the skills and habits of mind that promote a critical understanding of democracy and our nation's troubled history that respects and honors differences while simultaneously promoting unity consciousness, empathy, and solidarity with poor people's struggles.

As an electorate, we must of course continue supporting voting rights. Such an enlightening and worthwhile read. Thanks to Diane Ravitch for sharing.

-Angela Valenzuela

The Emerging Anti-MAGA Majority

Wake up: Trump has fundamentally reshaped the electorate. This is good news for the fight against MAGA fascism.

In 2016, Trump shocked the world by tearing down the “Blue Wall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Quickly, a new consensus congealed around the idea that despite having lost the national popular vote, and only barely having won the Electoral College, Trump had improved Republicans’ fortunes for the foreseeable future with his unique appeal to “uneducated” voters. Suddenly, white non-college voters became the “it” constituency. For the last seven years, even as their proportion of the population shrinks, the focus on them increases, most recently with assertions that Democrats have been continuously hemorrhaging working class voters. Despite everything we know about Trump, earlier this year there were a rash of stories about how Trump could win again in 2024 despite being the only president to ever incite a deadly attack on the Capitol to overturn an election he lost. In all those stories, “working class” voters were the basis for those predictions.

Yet, since 2016, Republicans have lost 23 of the 27 elections in the five states everyone agrees Democratic hopes in the Electoral College and the Senate depend on. When Trump was sworn in, Republicans held four of those five states’ governorships, and six of the ten Senate seats. Moreover, Republicans defied history by losing nearly across the board in those states last year, the only time anything like that has happened to a Party running against such an unpopular president in a midterm.

How could all of this happen?

As the unique voter file analysis in this post confirms, it didn’t happen because very many of those who had voted for Trump in 2016 had buyers’ remorse. (Indeed, the number of 2016 voters switching sides has been historically low, and a wash as some have moved from Clinton to Trump.) Instead, Republicans have lost because of the emerging anti-MAGA majority consisting of those who did not vote in 2016. The literally unprecedented surge in new voters over the last three elections has two components: 1) young people are aging into the electorate, and are voting at a higher rate than previous generations at their age, and reject MAGA by 20-point margins, and 2) those who skipped 2016 (the so-called “Obama-none” voters) have returned. Those margins with young voters have two components – that young voters are much more diverse than the rest of the population, and young white people are far more anti-MAGA than their parents.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Minority Rule: How 3 Percent of Texans Call the Shots for the Rest of Us, by Michael Hardy, Texas Monthly

This is a sobering, must-read piece by Michael Hardy (2022) in The Texas Monthly that helps explain why Republicans' are at odds with most Texans, generally, on such issues as abortion and gun rights. 

"Neither of these measures enjoys broad public support; polls show that most Texans hold moderate positions on abortion, gun rights, and many other key issues. But state lawmakers have made sure that doesn’t matter."

To grasp this, one must understand that out of 30 million Texans and 22 million eligible voters and 17 million registered voters only 2 million vote in GOP primaries, leaving ultimately one million, or three percent of Texans, to elect our state leaders.  Despite the tremendous growth of the Latino population, Republicans have gerrymandered districts—that in 2020, "reduce the number of majority-Hispanic districts from six to five." Republicans have rigged the system by Latino packing voters into specific districts. What this means is...

"a candidate such as Governor Greg Abbott or Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick needs the support of only a million or so primary voters, representing just 3 percent of all Texans, to win the Republican nomination."

To be sure, this has consequences for all communities. I appreciate Hardy's story of Asian Texans for Justice leader, Lily Trieu and how the Asian American community in Sugar Land, located near Houston, is structured out, leaving her community with no meaningful representation.

As I had previously blogged (read: The Awful 88th Legislative Session: Losers included taxpayers, teachers, trans youths, and anyone who uses electricity—Texas Observer ), the ever-curtailing of voting rights in

Democratic Party strongholds combines with gerrymandered districts that do not reflect, in particular, the growth of the Latino community. 

According to the 2021 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census, Latino Texans represent 40.2% of the state’s population while Anglo, non-Hispanic Texans account for 39.4% (Ura, 2022).

The Latino vote has been rising (Gamboa & Acevedo, 2022), but as the story out of Sugar Land illustrates, it literally doesn't make a difference in those districts where they have been structured out.

-Angela Valenzuela


 & Youth, Latino mobilization paid off in the midterms. Now groups gear up for 2020. Retrieved:

Ura, A. (2022, Sept. 15). Hispanic Texans may now be the state’s largest demographic group, new census data shows, Texas Tribune. Retrieved:

Minority Rule: How 3 Percent of Texans 

Call the Shots for the Rest of Us

Statewide officials and legislators are far to the right of most Texans. Why? Low primary-election turnout and an anemic Democratic party.


Illustrations by Brian Rea

If you want to see the future of Texas, take a drive down Synott Road, in Sugar Land, the booming suburb twenty miles southwest of Houston. Start at the intersection with Old Richmond Road. Here, tucked beside a Texaco station, you’ll find a Mexican food truck and DD’s Ejide African Restaurant, which serves aromatic specialties such as oxtail pepper soup. Heading south along Synott, you’ll soon pass Hindu, Buddhist, and Cao Dai temples, a mosque, an apostolic church, and a halal grocery store. 

Sugar Land is the largest city in Fort Bend County, one of the fastest-growing and most diverse areas in the United States. Between 2000 and 2020 the county more than doubled in size, to a population of 823,000. A preponderance of that growth is attributable to Asians, who now account for one in every five residents. As recently as 2000, non-Hispanic white Texans made up nearly half the population of Fort Bend County; today, that group makes up just 30 percent of the population, followed by Hispanic (26 percent), Asian (22 percent, about half being of Indian descent), and Black (22 percent) Texans. It’s also one of the best-educated counties in the state, with nearly 20 percent of the adult population holding a graduate or professional degree. 

The county’s political evolution has been equally dramatic. Between 1968 and 2016, it voted Republican in every single presidential election. In Congress, the majority of the county was represented by the likes of libertarian icon Ron Paul and former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay. But over the past decade, the pendulum has swung. In 2016 Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump here by seven percentage points, becoming the first Democrat to carry the county since Lyndon Johnson. In 2020 Joe Biden won Fort Bend County by eleven points—part of a nationwide suburban backlash against Trump. “Trump made a lot of people uncomfortable,” said County Judge KP George, an Indian American Democrat and the county’s top elected official. “About thirty percent of our population is foreign-born. They didn’t like his rhetoric.”  

Fort Bend County is what economists call a leading indicator. Between 2010 and 2020, Texas grew by nearly four million residents, with people of color responsible for 95 percent of that growth. The state is now 40 percent non-Hispanic white, 40 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Black, and 6 percent Asian—with the latter the fastest-growing demographic. As in Fort Bend County, that transformation has been accompanied by political change. Although no Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas since 1994—and no Democratic presidential candidate has carried the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976—the party has been chipping away at the Republican advantage over time. In 2012 Mitt Romney won the state by sixteen points. In 2020 Trump won by less than six.  

But as the state as a whole has moved toward the political center, its Republican party has lurched to the right, enacting some of the country’s most reactionary policies and helping make Texas an international byword for extremism. During the 2021 legislative session, the Republican majority banned abortion after six weeks, promising a $10,000 bounty to any citizen who reports a violation. (The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer triggered another law banning all abortions except to save the life of the mother.) And they passed a bill allowing Texans 21 and older to openly carry a handgun without a license or training.  

Neither of these measures enjoys broad public support; polls show that most Texans hold moderate positions on abortion, gun rights, and many other key issues. But state lawmakers have made sure that doesn’t matter. During a special session last fall, legislators created new districts for themselves (and for members of Congress) as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process that occurs after every census. Drawn behind closed doors, using highly sophisticated computer models, the new maps guaranteed that most incumbents, both Republican and Democratic, remained in safely red or blue districts. As a result of this gerrymandering, few legislators have to worry about the general election. Their only vulnerability comes during the spring primary, in which a small number of voters choose their parties’ nominees. Primary elections are all about ideological purity, about appealing to hard-core activists. Moderation is not a quality in high demand. 

Texas Gov. Abbott signs law shutting diversity offices at public universities

During the last regular 2021 legislative session, advocates absolutely knew that the attack on diversity in K-12 schools under the auspices of "anti-CRT" bills (HB 3979 and SB 3), that this agenda was migrating upwardly into higher education. This is, of course, part of a broader agenda that intends to demonize K-12 schools as teaching a curriculum that they're not actually teaching. 

Extremist movements like these rely on deception, manipulation and dishonesty. They are intended to scare the base of the Republican party—as well as the general public—away from public schools that elites want to privatize. 

At the higher education level, this is not just about ethnic cleansing, but also about miseducating white youth every bit as much as youth of color who are demographically ascendant in our state—indeed the majority attending our K-12 schools. 

If you haven't read Dr. Emilio Zamora's petition, Protesting the Anti-Diversity Assault Bills, I strongly urge you to read it and by all means, sign it, as well. It has already garnered over 30K signatures.

Rest assured, my friends, that the struggle for DEI will continue. We know well that not only is Texas a battleground state, but that it could very well turn blue (Democrat). When? We do not know. According to Longman (2019), when this happens, it will "crush the conservative movement for good." The stakes are high for all concerned.

In the meantime, may our hearts not grow weary in the cause for social justice. I myself am encouraged and inspired by what I witnessed this session as unprecedented level of youth activism in our state. This youth demographic is in fact what the right seeks to suppress in great part because it is an emergent left (Kaplan, 2020). That said, a reactionary, new children's crusade is also in full swing (Lee, 2023). These are dynamic times, to say the least. 

We must continue to fight the good fight. 

As Emilio Zamora often says, "Even if we lose some battles, we are definitely winning the war of ideas and history is on our side." I couldn't agree more.

Sí se puede! Yes we can!

-Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D.


Kaplan, E. B. (2020). The Millennial/Gen Z Leftists Are Emerging: Are Sociologists Ready for Them? Sociological Perspectives63(3), 408–427.

Lee, J. (2023, March 6). The New Children's Crusade: Recruiting for America's Culture War: Powerful Interests are sending Texas youth out to do battle against LGBTQ+, Abortion and Progressive CausesTexas Observer.

Longman, M. (2019, June 17). If Texas Goes Blue, It Will Change American Politics Permanently, Washington Monthly.

Texas Gov. Abbott signs law shutting diversity offices at public universities
The law comes as the Supreme Court later this month is widely expected to ban colleges and universities from considering race as a factor in their admissions decisions.

Montinique Monroe / Getty Images file

June 16, 2023, 7:52 AM CDT / Source: Reuters 
By Reuters

All state-funded colleges and universities in Texas will have to close their diversity, equity and inclusion offices under a measure signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

The law, which one of its sponsors in the Texas state Senate called the most significant ban on diversity offices in higher education in the country, comes as the U.S. Supreme Court later this month is widely expected to ban colleges and universities from considering race as a factor in their admissions decisions.

Under the Texas law, signed by Abbott on Wednesday, any public college or university that does not certify it is in compliance with the measure would not be able to spend state funds allocated to it.

It also mandates that state officials every two years through 2029 conduct studies to gauge the impact of the law on students broken down by race. It will look at the rates of application, acceptance, matriculations, retention and graduation, along with grade point averages. The law does not explain the reasoning for conducting these studies.

The law is the latest salvo from Texas’ Republican lawmakers and Abbott, also a Republican, and comes as critics assail diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, efforts as divisive or anti-white, while proponents say they can help people from different backgrounds learn to work together.

“Texas is leading the nation and ensuring our campuses return to focusing on the strength of diversity and promoting a merit-based approach where individuals are judged on their qualifications, skills, and contributions,” state Senator Brandon Creighton, a Republican who was one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement.

But Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, said in a statement that the bill’s signature marked a “sad occasion for all students at Texas’ public universities.”

“By dismantling diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and offices at these institutions, Texas lawmakers have chosen to prioritize a political agenda instead of the success of these students,” Russell wrote.

She said all students, regardless of race, benefit from having a diverse student body, and that her organization would not stop working for Texas universities to be increasingly accessible and inclusive.