Things That Matter

Here’s How One 11-Year-Old El Paso Resident Is Trying to Bring Some Positive Light After A Horrible Mass Shooting

Ruben Martinez is an 11-year-old kid from El Paso, Texas and the shooting this past weekend impacted him like all Texans. He’s community was just attacked and his mother had to sit him down and explain what had happened. It was then that he knew he had to do something to help his community heal. His idea: the #ElPasoChallenge. Here’s what you need to know to participate.

On the morning of August 3, a white supremacist went to El Paso with the intention of shooting as many Mexicans as he could.

Credit: El Paso Police Department

Patrick Crusius, 21, entered a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas and opened fire on shoppers. He killed 22 people and injured 24 with an assault rifle. The violent attack left the Latino community in fear when it was revealed that Crusius had traveled to El Paso to exact his act of terror on the Latino community.

While the community was grieving, 11-year-old Ruben Martinez went to his room and brainstormed a way to bring the people of El Paso together.

Credit: @rgandarilla99 / Twitter

Martinez’s idea is a challenge to promote kindness. He wants El Pasoans to commit one act of kindness for each person who was killed during the tragic shooting. The #ElPasoChallenge is that simple. Just help other people in the name and memory of the people who were murdered by a domestic terrorist.

If you aren’t sure how you can join, Martinez has laid out a few ways to do good for people.

Credit: @rgandarilla99 / Twitter

Here is what Martinez wrote to start his mission to help his community heal.

“#elpasoCHALLENGE”

“Purpose: To honor the people who got killed in our city.”

“How: I’ll challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds for each other.”

“Examples: Mow someone’s lawn, visit a nursing home, pay for someone’s lunch or dinner, donate to families in need, write someone a letter and tell them how great they are, hold the door for everyone, comfort someone when they are sad or stressed, take flowers to someone in the hospital, leave a dollar on the vending machine for the next person, and any other random act of kindness.”

“How to convince everyone to join the #elpasoCHALLENGE: Hold up posters, pass out flyers, sent it to Facebook.”

“This will show the world that people from El Paso, TX are kind and care for each other.”

The call to action from a child is pulling all of the heartstrings.

Credit: @summerprj / Twitter

“He was having some trouble dealing with what happened,” Gandarilla told CNN. “I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving. I told him to try and think of something he could do to make El Paso a little better.”

Gandarilla also proudly shared that her son already started on his acts of kindness.

Credit: @GynarchyLove / Twitter

“Last night, he agree(d) to go out to do his first act of kindness,” Gandarilla told CNN. “He chose to go deliver dinner to our first responders.”

The #elpasoCHALLENGE is reaching far out of Texas with people across the country joining the challenge.

Credit: @stlagogo / Twitter

The challenge might have been intended for the El Paso community, but it seems people all over want to make a difference. Martinez’s sweet and well-meaning gesture is something more of us should be trying to do in this world.

Way to go, Ruben! Your plan to spread the #elpasoCHALLENGE is working.

Credit: @HackeMom / Twitter

Let us know if you are joining Martinez’s #elpasoCHALLENGE. This kind of action from young people is so important in today’s dark and scary world.

READ: After A Mass Shooting In El Paso, ‘Amor Eterno’ Becomes An Anthem Bringing Latinx Communities Together

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Texas High Schoolers Conducted a Mock ‘Slave Auction’ Of Black Students Over Snapchat

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Texas High Schoolers Conducted a Mock ‘Slave Auction’ Of Black Students Over Snapchat

Photo via Getty Images

Students at a high school in Aledo, Texas are being disciplined after the administration discovered they held a mock slave auction on Snapchat where they “traded” Black students.

Screenshots of the Snapchat group show that these unnamed students “bid” on students of color, ranging anywhere from $1 to $100.

One student in particular was priced at $1 because his hair was “bad”. The screenshot also shows that the group chat’s name changed regularly. The group’s name started as “Slave Trade” then changed to “N—-r Farm”, and finally to “N—– Auction”.

Upon learning of the mock slave auction, the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus’s principal wrote a note to parents explaining the situation. Principal Carolyn Ansley called the mock slave auction “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment” which “led to conversations about how inappropriate and hurtful language can have a profound and lasting impact” on people.

Many people felt that the school principal downplayed the gravity of the mock slave auction. Not once did she mention the word racism in the letter that she sent out to parents.

“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism… that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” said Mark Grubbs, father to three former Aledo ISD students, to NBC DFW. But Grubbs, along with many other Aledo parents and community members, say that the incident didn’t surprise them.

In fact, Grubbs said he had to take his children out of the Aledo ISD school system because of how much racist harassment his children were facing. “A lot of racism,” he said of his son’s experience at the school. “My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter.”

After the backlash to the initial statement, Superintendent Susan Bohn finally released a statement condemning the racism and “hatred” of the mock slave auction.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,’ Bohn wrote. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

The problem with “policies” like these is they fail to target the issue of racism at the root. Hate speech may be “prohibited”, but if a child is displaying racist behavior for whatever reason, the bigger problem is the way that they have been educated and indoctrinated. Slave auctions have no place in 2021.

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

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Texas Republicans Are Recruiting An ‘Army’ of Poll-Watchers To Go Into Black and Brown Precincts To ‘Fight Voter Fraud’

Photo via Getty Images

The GOP’S voter-suppression tactics in Georgia have been gripping the nation. But now, the media is also turning its attention to other voter-suppression tactics in the rest of the country. Now, Texas Republicans are taking the heat.

According to Common Cause Texas, Texas Republicans are planning on recruiting thousands of volunteers create an “election integrity brigade”. They want the “brigade” to go into Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston and “fight voter fraud”.

A Texas GOP presentation was leaked that outlined plans to send an “army” of poll-watchers to Black and brown precincts.

“I’m trying to encourage and recruit, as a precinct chair, about 30 people in my precinct who will have the confidence and courage to come down in here…,” said an unnamed GOP official, pointing to majority non-white urban areas, “…in these areas where we really need poll-workers. Because this is where the problem is occuring.”

“So me finding poll-watchers out here, it helps, but it’s a pretty safe precinct”. He said this while pointing to majority-white Houston neighborhoods.

The video inspired outrage among people who saw these tactics as blatant attempts to suppress the voting rights of POC.

“The impetus for releasing [the video] right now is there are some bills in the legislature that seek to empower poll watchers in some really scary ways,” said executive director of Common Cause Texas, Anthony Gutierrez, to NBC News. “And also at the same time, take away the power of the presiding judge at the poll site from being able to remove a disruptive poll watcher.”

“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and Brown neighborhoods,” said Gutierrez to The Washington Post.

“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” he added. Why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?”

This “election integrity brigade” comes on the heels of a problematic election bill the Texas Senate just passed.

According to NBC News, the bill “bans overnight early voting and drive-thru early voting” and also “empowers partisan poll watchers.”

“It’s part of the intimidation, the confusion, the antics that (the Republican Party) has engaged in for so many generations that culminated in President Trump asking people to overturn the election,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to CNN.

“What they’re doing is filing bills that are essentially a poll tax that weaponize the election system against our own voters,” she continued. “And what they’re proposing is absolutely tragic and reminiscent of the worst of what we’ve seen in Texas and across the South since Reconstruction.”

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