If last year’s midterm primaries taught us anything, it was that everyone, regardless of their background or story, has a right to run for office. Furthermore, first-time politicians who want to help the marginalized community are encouraged to run, and we now have proof they can win.
Meet Selena Alvarenga, a gay immigrant of El Salvador, that is seeking to run for District Court Judge in Texas.
Alvarenga’s campaign for judge of Travis County’s 460th District Court is steaming rolling right along as they prepare for an election. While this new seat has never been conquered, the election will be an exciting one to watch. It won’t take place until March 2020, but there’s no better time to jump into campaign mode.
She understands that her background isn’t a typical one, but that’s what makes her a perfect candidate to fight for people’s rights.
Her history as a lawyer spans two decades, and she’s an alum of St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio.
Alvarenga migrated to the U.S. with her father in the 1970s after they fled the Salvadoran Civil War.
“One day, I literally woke up, and my father said everything was packed. He said it was getting too dangerous and we had to leave. We got in the car and we started driving north,” Alvarenga said in an interview with Popsugar.
According to her website, her father worked as a computer programmer at a bank in El Salvador but in the U.S. he could only get work serving fast food. “When he finally did find a job in his field, it was in Alaska. Selena was one of three Latin American immigrants in her class.”
“I didn’t know any English, so I went to [an English as a second language] school,” she said to the publication. That adversity only helped Alvarenga excel in school.
Some of the issues she’s ready to address in her campaign include LGBTQ+ rights and ending cash bail.
If you’ve already given up on 2020, you’re wrong. This year will mark 25 years since beloved Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar. Of course, knowing the singer would have turned 49 years old this year is horribly tragic. However, the legal magic of ’25’ means that copyright law from her last year of life is about to expire. For the first time, some of the last photos taken of Selena are on public display at a San Antonio art museum. Photographer John Dyer had the privilege of photographing Selena for her cover shoot for Más Magazine in 1992 and again for Texas Monthly in 1995. Dyer has allowed for both sets of photographs to be put on display, and the contrast in her mood is striking.
The second set of photographs was taken just months before her murder.
Book your flights to Texas, and buy your tickets, mi gente!
There isn’t a look or photograph of Selena that a child hasn’t dressed up as for Halloween, that a Guarcado plushie hasn’t donned, or that the public hasn’t revered. From Selena’s purple jumpsuit to her fire red lipstick, everything the artist has done has become part of the Mexican-American zeitgeist. And yet… Selena is still giving us more to take in. The signature piece of the exhibit features the 23-year-old star wearing a sequined bustier and high waisted black pants, black patent leather heels firmly planted on a black and white tile checkered floor with a red curtain in the backdrop.
The photo is so iconic that the museum has reconstructed a look-a-like set for visitors to take their own Selena-inspired photos.
The exhibit, named in both English and Spanish “Selena Forever/Siempre Selena,” is on view at the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio’s first modern art museum. “The exhibition pays tribute to ’90s icon, singer, designer, and Texas legend—Selena Quintanilla-Pérez—with a series of five photographs by award-winning San Antonio photographer John Dyer. Selena was the subject of Dyer’s photo assignments for the cover of Más Magazine in 1992 and again for Texas Monthlyin 1995, just months before she was tragically killed at age 23,” the museum states.
The photographer noticed how much more muted Selena was in the shoot months before her death compared to three years prior.
In an interview with Heidi Vaughan Fine Art, Dyer recalls how “she drove up by herself in her little red hatchback and parked in front of my studio” the first time they met in 1992, as Selena’s career was beginning to take off. “She jumped out of her car with a big smile,” and brought in her hand-made, self-designed performance costumes. The checkered floor print was taken during that first shoot. He recalls that “Selena’s quick smile, infectious laugh, and unending energy made her a pleasure to work with. This was in 1992.”
By early 1995, Selena was at the peak of her international fame when Texas Monthly hired Dyer to do another photoshoot. “She had just finished two exhausting days of shooting TV commercials for a corporate sponsor. She was tired. I had brought a beautiful hand-made jacket for her to wear. I posed her in the alcove on the mezzanine of the theater where the light is particularly nice. She was subdued and pensive. A far cry from the ebullient, excited young singer I’d photographed 3 years earlier. Later I thought her mood might have been an eerie harbinger of what was to come,” Dyer concluded. We may never know what was going on in the emotional world of Selena on that day — if tensions were rising with Saldivar, or if she was simply an exhausted superstar.
Between the time of the shoot and the magazine cover release, Selena was murdered.
The magazine decided to use “one of the more somber shots” Dyer captured for the magazine cover which ended up becoming a story that chronicled her death. “It’s a cover I would rather not have had,” Dyer recalled. Tejanos and Selena superfans alike, Selena is waiting for you.
The “Selena Forever/Selena Siempre” exhibit is on display at San Antonio’s The McNay Modern Art Museum for the price of general admission ($20). The exhibit dates are Jan. 15, 2020, to July 5, 2020. Selena Forever/Siempre Selena is organized by the McNay Art Museum, curated by Kate Carey, Head of Education.
Pro tip: The museum is open for free on Thursdays from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
We recently published a story detailing how some Republican governors seemed to be breaking ranks with president Donald J. Trump when it comes to a controversial executive order that allows local and state governments to block refugee resettlements in their jurisdiction. This means that a program that has been hailed by politicians, including presidents, from both sides of the aisle is at a clear and present danger of being greatly diminished.
Trump’s order has been blasted by pundits and activists. As reported in The Washington Post: “Critics said the policy change underscores a growing hostility to the country’s refugee resettlement program, especially in some conservative states and the White House.”
So this is Trump’s America and he is standing by his campaign promise of reducing the number of migrants that enter the US under his administration. The social and human cost of these policies, however, has been enormous, and populations that were already vulnerable due to discrimination are further put into the spotlight.
One of the most important states when it comes to migratory issues is Texas, which shares a long border with Mexico and has a long history of multiculturalism. And a recent decision by its governor has the potential to have longstanding effects on how Texan society and culture is shaped.
Governor Greg Abbott has announced that his state will reject the resettlement of new refugees.
In a letter penned to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Governor Abbott stated that Texas has “carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process.” He also described the current migration status quo that of “a broken federal immigration system”. And, surprise, surprise, he blamed the Democrat-led Congress for the downfall: “Texas continues to have to deal with the consequences of an immigration system that Congress has failed to fix.”
And yes, Texas has harbored more refugees than most states, so this is not necessarily an anti-immigration move per se, but the move is certainly a disappointing development.
Even if the number of new intakes has diminished in recent years, Texas has taken in more refugees than other states. As BBC reports: “Texas has large refugee populations in several of its major cities. In the 2018 fiscal year, Texas took in 1,697 refugees – more than any other state, but a large drop from 4,768 in the previous fiscal year.”
And as Abbott wrote in his letter: “Since FY2010, more refugees have been received in Texas than in any other state. In fact, over that decade, roughly 10% of all refugees resettled in the United States have been placed in Texas.”
Well, yes, but we also have to consider that Texas is a huge state and that migrants have greatly contributed to its development. The devil is in the details and in the past. Abbot has a history of opposing the resettlement of certain migrant groups. During the Obama administration, in 2015 to be exact, he tried to reject the arrival of Syrian refugees to the state. This was seen as a discriminatory measure at the time. As The New York Times reminds us: “Under Mr. Abbott’s leadership, Texas sued the Obama administration in 2015 to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees, accusing the federal government of failing to consult with state officials. Mr. Abbott also cited security concerns and said people with ties to terrorist groups were exploiting the refugee program. That lawsuit proved unsuccessful in the courts.”
The governor claims that resources are limited and the system cannot support any more arrivals.
In his letter, the governor stated that the resources the state would allocate to new arrivals should instead go to “those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless – indeed, all Texans”. He also stated that refugees that have already resettled in other states will be free to move to Texas if they wish, but they will not receive benefits.
And the decision has been controversial and activists are echando el grito al cielo.
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement group, said in a statement: “This is a shameful decision by Gov. Abbott which is unworthy of the great state’s reputation for being big, bold and hospitable.”
Several church groups are legally challenging Trump’s executive order. And others have used even harsher words. Ali Noorani, executive director at Leaders from National Immigration Forum, said: “At a time of historically low state unemployment rates, why would Texas turn away refugees with an entrepreneurial spirit that contributes to local communities and economies? Turning away those seeking safety and opportunity isn’t just disheartening — for Texas, it’s bad business.”
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