Things That Matter

From A Poor Family To Being In The Run To Becoming The First Latino Governor Of Texas, Meet Lupe Valdez

Former Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running to be the next governor of Texas. The openly lesbian gubernatorial candidate is currently 20+ points behind incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott but she hasn’t given up yet.

Gov. Abbott is the governor who signed Senate Bill 4 prohibiting “sanctuary cities” within Texas and has raised a lot more money than Valdez. Abbott’s campaign has raised $65 million to Valdez’s $500,000.

Here are some facts about Valdez and her campaign as she runs to govern the state of Texas.

Lupe Valdez has already made history as the first Latina ever nominated for Texas governor by a major party.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

She ran against six other Democrats in the primaries and then, too, she was an underdog. One of her primary opponents was Andrew White, the son of former Texas Governor Mark White.

Her new goal is to become the first ever Latino governor of Texas.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Texas is nearly 40 percent Latino. Yet, it has not yet elected a Latino to govern the state. Texas also hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1990. Through it all, Valdez has continued her fight in the race despite the odds against her.

Valdez is from the poorest zip code in Texas.

CREDIT: LupeValdez / YouTube

In her campaign video, she shares the story of how she had to get on a city bus to get to school and would immediately go to the school bathroom to clean her shoes every morning. She was the only kid from a pueblo that didn’t have paved streets. She walked through mud and dirt to get to the bus stop.

Valdez is the youngest of eight children to Mexican-American migrant farmworkers.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Many of her siblings didn’t finish school and instead became farmworkers like their parents. One teacher in high school told her she had what it took to go to college and it changed her life forever.

She credits her mother for the courage and motivation to purse an education instead of working int he fields.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Caption: “Because of my mother, I went from the crop fields to the classroom. I was fortunate to succeed and be the first in many things, but I am running so that I am not the last. That is why we keep going—to fight so that others can follow in our footsteps. #WomensEqualityDay”

Valdez paid her way through a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

CREDIT: LupeValdez / YouTube

She first earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University and then her Master’s at the University of Texas at Arlington. Education is a major issue for the gubernatorial candidate.

On her campaign website, she says, “I am where I am today because a Texas public school gave me the opportunity to succeed. Our public schools are the path to opportunity, but for too many Texans, that opportunity is slipping away under the current Governor’s failed policies.”

She’s here to raise salaries for teachers, remove the burden of financing local schools from the communities and back onto the government where it belongs, and remove caps on special education funding.

Valdez joined the Army National Guard where she was elevated to captain.

CREDIT: “Officer in the Army Reserve, 1974″ Digital Image. Lupe Valdez Campaign. 30 October 2018.

She eventually became a senior federal agent at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, right when it was formed. Valdez understands the deep structural flaws of the Texas prison system because she worked it from a jailer to a sheriff.

Her campaign also stands to improve the quality of care for mentally ill inmates, to reform the cash bail system that implicitly keeps poor minorities behind bars, to decriminalize misdemeanor possession of marijuana and ban for-profit prisons.

At times, she even worked undercover.

CREDIT: LupeValdez / YouTube

This might be the raciest photo from a long history in investigating fraud in the United States to money laundering from drug lords in South America.

Valdez retired to run for sheriff of Dallas County, becoming the first openly gay Latina Sheriff in that position.

CREDIT: “Sworn in as Dallas County Sheriff, 2005.” Digital Image. Lupe Valdez Campaign. 30 October 2018.

Valdez served for 12 years as Dallas County Sheriff and at age 70 she resigned as sheriff so she could campaign for governor for Texas. She celebrated her 71st birthday on the campaign trail with a cafecito y Topocito.

She’s a cop who believes the system needs to be reformed in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

CREDIT: LupeValdez / YouTube

“We must also work together with municipalities to strengthen the bonds of trust between police and communities and train our police forces to the highest standard, because better trained and accountable police forces means safer neighborhoods and safer cops,” reads her campaign website.

“Criminal justice has been the fight of my life, and I will push to make sure that Texas is on the front lines of the most effective and progressive practices and reforms possible.”

Some have criticized her for working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when she was a sheriff.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

During her tenure, Valdez cooperated with federal immigration authorities by holding immigrants in her jail cells when requested and handing them over to ICE. That said, she famously and publicly clashed with Abbott when he signed SB4 into law.

Valdez was required by law to cooperate with ICE, for fear of losing federal funding, which resulted in the deportations of thousands of Dallas residents.

Valdez does not have the young vote.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

In the September Quinnipiac poll, Sheriff Valdez’s favorability rating among young people is ten points lower than Governor Abbott’s. Meanwhile, one third of eligible Latino voters are aged 18-29.

In an interview with NPR’s Latino USA podcast, Valdez was adamant that Texas isn’t a red state, it’s a low voter state.

Valdez prides herself as being one of the people.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

In her interview with NPR, you can hear her campaign managers trying to steer her to wear an apron, to sit down for one second, etc., but Valdez is the abuelita that cannot be steered.

She’s going to serve enchiladas to people and when she sits down for the interview, she says that she feels bad she’s not helping to load up the truck.

Oh, and this is her truck:

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Caption: “While #GregAbbott flies around Texas on private jets loaned by his billionaire buddies, I’m chugging along in my pick-up truck meeting as many Texans as possible — face to face. Help us meet more Texans by donating at my website! LupeValdez.com”

The Latino community is stanning hard in the midterms.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

One woman interviewed by NPR said of Lupe, “After Selena, there hasn’t been anyone that has impacted my life that I can see myself in, like a woman of color. She’s brown like me. She speaks Spanish and English like me. She reflects so many pockets of voters. She’s just like us. The other day a tree branch fell and there she was with a chainsaw, cutting it up so that it wouldn’t get in the way of pedestrians. Yeah, she’s one of us.”

Latinos have rallied hard for Beto O’Rourke, but have been lackluster for Valdez.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Valdez has known that her fight to become the next governor of Texas would be tough when competing against Gov. Abbott. Latino voters prefer Abbott over Valdez by 49 to 45 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

Valdez is a fierce feminist.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. #InternationalWomensDay”

And she gives her constituents donuts.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

She’s getting one on one face time to talk about the issues that matter most to her: extending Medicare to the 76,000 Texan veterans without access to health care, ending gerrymandering by instead giving over the redistricting process to a nonpartisan commission and including more comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ community.

She loves her perritos.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

I know. This is relevant information for your voting needs. I stand by it.

Whoever you’re voting for, just get out there, fam.

CREDIT: @lupefortexas / Instagram

Latino voters are a force to be reckoned with this election. We need to turn out in full force so that we look back and laugh at the naming of our uprising as anything other than the Brown Wave. Nos vamos.


READ: Trump Stokes Fear Of Immigrants As US Prepares To Send Thousands Of Troops To The Border

Please share this with your Tejano amigos and our allies. Gracias.

25 Years After Her Death, A San Antonio Art Museum Is Displaying Some Never-Before-Seen Photos Of Selena

Entertainment

25 Years After Her Death, A San Antonio Art Museum Is Displaying Some Never-Before-Seen Photos Of Selena

mcnayart / Instagram

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!

CREDIT: @MCNAYART / INSTAGRAM

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.

CREDIT: @MCNAYART / INSTAGRAM

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 Monthly in 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.

CREDIT: @MCNAYART / INSTAGRAM

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.

CREDIT: @MCNAYART / INSTAGRAM

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.

READ: The Comments in This Photo That Chris Perez Shared of Selena Proves That Her Fandom is Truly Timeless

Refugees Are No Longer Welcomed In Texas As It Becomes The First State To Refuse Refugees Under New Trump Rule

Things That Matter

Refugees Are No Longer Welcomed In Texas As It Becomes The First State To Refuse Refugees Under New Trump Rule

RAÍCES / Instagram

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.”