Culture

White Students Wear Du-Rags And Cornrows In Racist Thug Day Celebration

After a long list of racist promposals already this year, this news out of Houston is shocking but unfortunately not surprising.

Around 30 white students at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas, sported cornrows, baggy sports jerseys, and gold chains on Tuesday for what many students called “Thug Day.”

The photos of students posing in the racist caricatures went viral after one student posted them to social media.

The tweet shows students wearing sweatbands and fake tattoos that read ”$wag” for Spirit week, and her tweet quickly went viral. Other photos show female students dressed in baggy pants, sporting fake face tattoos and handcuffs. As of Wednesday, the images had received over 20,000 retweets and more than 4,000 comments.

One student had enough and took to social media to call out the blatant racism.

Credit: @Rachellemmma / Twitter

Since taking to Twitter, other students have been harassing her and threatening her to pull the tweet. One person even posted her home address online.

Rachel Goodwin, the student who shared the photos, told Buzzfeed News that she felt unsafe returning to school and that after receiving a slew of death threats, the school allowed her to stay home.

The outfits sparked controversy online, with many criticizing the students for appropriating and mocking black culture.

Credit: @NorthStarTheGod / Twitter

“Black people with this hair are denied jobs, internships, and get harassed at their schools. Here, Memorial High School students, are using it as costume,” one Twitter user wrote. “It’s rude. It’s racist.”

It’s just another example of white students creating unsafe spaces for students of color.

In interviews with Buzzfeed News, many other students said the teens depicted in the photos are also upset by the online attention. According to them, some are also feeling unsafe to return to school.

Many on Twitter were quick to point out how non-POCs love to appropriate other cultures without understanding the experience behind it.

Credit: @Rachellemmma / Twitter

Goodwin told Buzzfeed News, “The kids wear du-rags and cornrows to be ‘thuggish’ but those things are not thuggish. They are cultural and part of people’s everyday life.”

Officials at Memorial High School released a statement regarding the racist interpretation of Spirit Week.

“While the majority of rising juniors followed the approved dress theme on Tuesday, any instance of an inappropriate or offensive dress violation will not be tolerated. Students found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and dress code will be given a consequence,” a rep for Spring Branch Independent School District said.

Many current and former students are calling BS on the school’s response, saying that this incident is just another year in a long pattern.

Credit: @Rachellemmma / Twitter

From as early as 2015, students have been dressing up in offensive costumes, according to Rachel Goodwin, the student who posted the most recent photos online.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Monica Day, a 2016 graduate, confirmed “thug day” has been happening for years, just under a different name. A few of the themed days for Spirit Week were “Swag Day” and “Senioritas Day” which, devolved into the same offensive costumes. She said on Senioritas Day many students wore sombreros and mustaches, and one female student wore a Border Patrol outfit.

According to another student, these students can’t blame ignorance because the school magazine just ran a cover story about cultural appropriation back in March.

And in 2016, a wall at the school was covered with racial slurs and anti-Semitic insults.

READ: A Student Holding A Racist Promposal Sign Is Banned From The School Dance And Good

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.”