Texas Observer

Seeking Wisdom That’s Deeper Than ‘Crayola’ Religion

A Fire To Light Our Tongues is an antidote to the belief that religion must be linked to intolerance, racism and hate. Since I’m personally religious, it grieves me to admit religion is implicated in much of what’s wrong with society today: relentless attacks on reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ people, public education, gun control, even democracy itself. I’m tempted to agree with those who regard religion as more problem than solution—especially here in Texas, where religion is so often linked with intolerance, racism, and hate.
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Labeled ‘Hispanic’

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U.S. Immigration Policy Is to Blame for the Horrific Mass Death in San Antonio

Originally published by Truthout. One hundred human beings were inside an 18-wheeler without water or air conditioning in the blistering 100-degree Texas heat. Fifty of them are now dead. Sixteen more people were taken to a hospital—including four children. That was this Monday in San Antonio. This is the deadliest of such tragedies in recent years, but it is not the first. In 2003, 19 migrants were found dead inside 18-wheelers in Victoria, Texas. In 2017, there were 10 migrants found dead in 18-wheelers—also in San Antonio.

Pre-Roe, They Risked Their Lives to Control Their Destinies

Articles must link back to the original article and contain the following attribution at the top of the story:. This article was originally published by the Texas Observer, a nonprofit investigative news outlet. Sign up for their weekly newsletter, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.”. Articles cannot be rewritten,...

With SCOTUS EPA Decision, Texas Coal Plants Live to Cook the Climate Another Day

Regardless of the federal ruling, local efforts to shut down the most polluting power plants and switch on clean energy continue. As Texans swelter under an unrelenting heatwave and breathe polluted air, Ken Paxton joined 16 other state attorneys general in celebrating the Supreme Court decision on Thursday to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. With West Virginia leading the charge and coal companies joining in, the group had filed a lawsuit last year against the EPA asking the Justices to reign in the federal agency’s powers under the Clean Air Act.

Immigrant Moms Get Rare Win in Long-fought Family Detention Case

The state Supreme Court weighed in on a fight to stop the state from licensing detention centers as childcare facilities. Seven years ago, a group of formerly detained immigrant mothers, an Austin-based nonprofit, and a daycare owner teamed up to fight Texas’ handling of federal family detention policy. After a long series of judicial victories and defeats, they secured a rare and belated victory last month in the state’s highest court.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Faces A Reckoning

As part of a Sunset Commission review, Texans are calling out the state agency for failing to address environmental injustices. Jon Niermann, the chairman of the state agency charged with enforcing environmental laws, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), appears not to understand how environmental racism works, nor if the phenomenon even exists.

Big Shock in Big Bend

Visitors to the Big Bend country in May noticed a conspicuous absence: the Rio Grande, whose great arching pathway gives this region its name. Where cool water used to flow, a dry, cracking riverbed now snakes through some of Texas’ most iconic landscapes. Near Santa Elena Canyon, a river...

How Much Power Do Police Oversight Offices Really Have?

Negotiations between Austin officials and the police were breaking down in part over the city’s attempts to increase police accountability in 2018. The city’s citizen review panel disbanded. Finally, that November, the parties reached an agreement, though tensions remained. A new office was created and staffed by civilians rather than police: The Office of Police Oversight.

Middle Fingers Up In Austin After End of ‘Roe’

More than 1,000 people marched through downtown Austin on Friday, June 25 to express their anger and sadness over the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe V. Wade and the impending, widespread erosion of abortion access as a result. Organized coalitions like Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and...

Healthcare for Trans Kids Is Not Abuse

Two Mayo Clinic psychologists worry about what will happen to trangender youth if or when their health care is taken away. Transgender kids have become the latest target of the far right’s moral ire. Last year, Arkansas became the first state to make it a felony for doctors to provide gender-affirming care—which can include puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery—for transgender children. Alabama followed suit in April, and at least 13 states are considering similar bills. While most bills go after doctors, others would penalize parents for seeking care for their children.

How Port Lavacans Resisted the KKK to Provide Education for All

Set in 1867, Flora Beach Burlingame’s Ophelia and the Freedmen’s School is historical fiction for children. The story follows twin sisters Ophelia and Melinda as they begin their education in the tiny Texas town of Lavaca, now known as Port Lavaca. The illiterate ten-year-olds attend a freedmen’s school, one of many created across the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction to provide a free education for former slaves and refugees. The only whites among forty students, the girls can learn without being shamed for their flour sack dresses, bare feet, or lack of schooling.

Here Are 3 Ways You Can Celebrate Juneteenth

With Juneteenth here, the country commemorates the day slaves in Texas learned about their emancipation. There are a variety of ways you can celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth was first celebrated here in Texas, in its birthplace of Galveston, in the 1860s. Learning more about the holiday as well as Black culture and history is a perfect way to observe it To start, you can read some books about Juneteenth or Black history. Stories such as “On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed or “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson shed light on the history of slavery in America—and its end. Watching documentaries like “A History of Black Achievement in America” are also great ways to celebrate Juneteenth.

A Visit to Galveston, the Birthplace of Juneteenth

The summer calendar has a new national holiday this year. A celebration born and bred in Texas, it is one that not everyone is familiar with given that it was only signed into law last year by President Joe Biden. To understand Juneteenth, one must visit Galveston, its birthplace. It...

The Ayahuasca King’s Last Tour

The ayahuasca king is dead. Peter Gorman didn’t die in the Amazon rainforests he loved and that made him famous among a certain group of folks worldwide, someone worthy of magazine articles and film documentaries. Instead, he died at a hospital just south of Fort Worth in late April....

Journalists Are First Responders, Too

Editor’s note: A longer version of this article appears in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ palabra. Nicole Chavez found herself in disturbingly familiar circumstances when she rushed to cover the murders of 19 students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The shootings by an 18-year-old armed with a military-style rifle triggered traumatic memories of covering the murders of 23 people in her hometown of El Paso almost three years ago.

GOP Win Says More About Filemon Vela than a South Texas ‘Red Wave’

When Congressman Filemon Vela decamped for K Street, he created a predictable opportunity for a Republican upset in the Valley. Mayra Flores made history Tuesday night by winning the special election for the 34th congressional district, a Democratic stronghold that stretches from Brownsville up east of San Antonio. In doing so, Flores became the first Latina to ever represent the Rio Grande Valley in Congress and the first Republican to do so since Reconstruction.

The Pain Belongs To Us

A version of this story ran in the May / June 2022 issue. There’s a scene from Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls that crosses my mind when I think about the power of collections of stories and materials from victims and survivors of state violence, which we have been building into an “archive of survival” at the Texas After Violence Project since 2007.