The DAC blog will continue to be archived in compliance with SB 17 and with the University of Texas’s guidelines relating to implementation of the law. No posts will be created or updated. Existing content will remain on the site.
This ambitious historical anthology begins with the assertion that what is often presented as the origin of the United States with the Mayflower in 1620 overlooks the equally important earlier arrival in 1619 of the White Lion cargo ship, bringing the first captive Africans to the continent. The 1619 Project wrestles with the problem that any history will always be incomplete due to the perspectives that any one author, or set of authors decides to leave out, by choice or due to a lack of historical evidence.
The 1619 Project has been in the news, often criticized as being a racist text against white people. However, in shifting the focus and bringing the African and African American perspective to the forefront, it questions much of the nation’s underlying mythology, such as the US being the land of opportunity, and that “all men are created equal”.
Throughout the wide-ranging contributions, much troubling historical details are presented. One of the questions that can be raised from this analysis is: Would the prevailing view of the United States as an exemplary, moral and model democratic nation be possible without the economic and systematic foundation provided by the exploitation and the denial of rights of African and African-American enslaved people? This disconnect can be understood as the foundation for many of the current struggles with race and class. Furthermore, it also provides a starting place to address these issues.
In addition to the historical analysis essays, the 1619 Project also includes poems and short historical fiction. These additions humanize and add nuance to the historical perspectives presented. If the historical perspectives provided in the project are problematic for some, and are new and shocking, it may be the point – that these historical recountings have largely been left out from mainstream histories of the US.
The repercussions of the racist institution of enslavement continue to this day. The book is organized by essays by individual authors, each examining a specific topic, such as “Democracy”, “Capitalism” “Punishment”, Healthcare” and “Music”. I highly recommend Chapter 17: Progress by Ibram X. Kendi. Among other things, this chapter looks at the establishment (and necessity) of low wages in the US, linked to the disposable view of labor leading from the institution of enslavement. “When the long sweep of American history is cast as a constant widening of equality and justice, it overlooks this parallel constant widening of inequality and injustice.” (Kendi p.424)
Transgender Day of Remembrance –November 20, 2021
As you head into the weekend, please keep the transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming community in your hearts for Transgender Day of Remembrance (and Resilience). 2021 has been the most deadly year (on record) for us, especially violent attacks against Black women. You will find a list of those who have been killed so far in 2021 at the following Human Rights Campaign link. We honor, witness, and celebrate the lives of those who have been taken from us.
Here are some specific ways you can learn, heighten visibility, and celebrate transgender and gender diverse communities:
- Listen to and learn from members of these communities.
- Add pronouns to your meeting profiles and email signature lines.
- Promote introductions of chosen names and pronouns.
- Interrupt misgendering if/when you hear it taking place.
- Learn how to use gender-neutral language, including neutral pronouns.
- Examine your immediate work environment to create more gender expansiveness.
- Reflect on bias and dismantle assumptions about gender as limited to a binary of just feminine and masculine.
- Be willing to be uncomfortable while you learn.
- Read more about becoming a trans ally
A pandemic. Increased acts of hate. Police brutality. An assault on the capitol. 2020 and 2021 have tested the endurance and resilience of American society. Some of these developments are new, while others have been ongoing for decades. Among these attention-grabbing headlines is an internet-era movement to address privacy.
All internet users have engaged with the new attention to privacy in some way. Most likely, every time a user enters a website for the first time, they will be asked to what extent they want their cookies tracked by the site and for what purposes. This explicit engagement provides the user with the opportunity for more control as to how their information is utilized and shared. Many take the time to minimize their cookies in an effort to reduce advertisements geared toward consumerism. But what about the platforms that don’t make usage of a visitor’s data transparent? This has been a divisive question among libraries for years.
In the library world, privacy is a core tenant included in the ALA Library Bill of Rights. Patrons can use this public service to anonymously navigate the infosphere from a station or check out books confidentially, “free from observation or unwanted surveillance by the government or others.” While libraries stand as a beacon for privacy and confidentiality, third-party databases that libraries often purchase to further scholarly inquiry threaten this very principle.
Two of these that have been in the news recently are Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw and Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis, or Nexis Uni. Both are databases that focus on public records and legal documents, vital to the work of any law student or lawyer, and utilized by students and patrons across the spectrum from undergraduates writing class papers to anyone keeping up with the latest news and opinions. Under the guise of providing necessary information for scholarly research, both sell personal information, such as license plate numbers, credit history, and other records (including location coordinates) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Effectively, these companies that brand themselves as engaging with public services are in fact aiding in the arrest and deportation of many in exchange for millions of dollars. Moreover, because of the government agencies that they are working with, specific communities of color are typically being targeted. This effectively results in the Libraries that provide access to these databases in abetting the potential deportation or harassment of some of the libraries’ most vulnerable patrons.
By obtaining these personal records from Reuters and Elsevier, government agencies are able to sidestep legal processes and constitutional laws while gathering and analyzing data to facilitate their work. It raises questions of technology companies and their role in supplying the government with surveillance tools that unequivocally violate one’s privacy.
As librarians fight to uphold the privacy and confidentiality of our communities, let us begin by pressuring our vendors to be ethically responsible. SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has begun to organize collaborative conversations around rethinking libraries’ relationships with these vendors and demanding contracts with tighter terms regarding patrons’ privacy. If you are interested in speaking out against these practices, a movement has taken place using the “#NoTechforICE” hashtag as well.
- Adams, Helen R. Privacy in the 21st Century: Issues for Public, School, and Academic Libraries. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2005.
- ”Addressing the Alarming Systems of Surveillance Built by Library Vendors.” SPARC (April 9, 2021).
- Harwell, Drew. “ICE investigators used a private utility database covering millions to pursue immigration violations.” Washington Post (February 26, 2021).
- Lamdan, Sarah. “Librarianship at the Crossroads of ICE Surveillance.” In the Library with the Lead Pipe. 2017. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/ice-surveillance/
- Lamdan, Sarah. “When Westlaw Fuels ICE Surveillance: Legal Ethics in the Era of Big Data Policing.” New York University Review of Law & Social Change, vol. 43, no. 2, 2019, p. 255-294. HeinOnline, https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/nyuls43&i=267.
- Macrina, Alison and Talya Cooper. Anonymity. Chicago: ALA Neal-Schuman, 2019.
- Mendoza, Anabel. “LexisNexis’ Multi-Million Dollar Contract with ICE Proves That To Keep Immigrants Safe, We Must Defund and Abolish ICE & CBP.” United We Dream (April 5, 2021).
- “Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” American Library Association (July 7, 2006).
- Talla, Vasudha. “ACLU Calls On Tech Companies to End Their Alliance with ICE and CBP.” ACLU (September 9, 2020).
By Mandy Ryan
Chances are, you or someone you know has or has had a disability at some point in their lives. Chances are, you know someone who has a disability that you don’t know about. This invisibility is one of the reasons the A in IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) can be tricky to tackle. With this in mind, we want to give a shout out to all of those honoring Disability Pride Day with us and give some background for those who may not know why we’re celebrating.
What is Disability Pride Day?
Disability Pride Day is a celebration of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26th, 1990. The ADA ushered in a new era for the disability community and implemented one of the first civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination against disabilities in the world. It also requires that employers, businesses, and public entities provide accessibility and reasonable accommodations to ensure that the disability community can have equal rights and opportunities as everyone else. Initially held in Boston, Disability Pride celebrations spread to Chicago and then to New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July as Disability Pride Month and announced the first annual NYC Disability Pride Parade. Today, Disability Pride is hosted in major cities across the US and has even become an internationally recognized celebration. Spearheaded by disabled influencers, Tiktok reported that the hashtag #DisabilityPride has reached over 236.6M views by the end of July.
Why is Disability Pride important?
Disability Pride plays a key role in breaking down stereotypes and challenging what it means to have a disability through visibility and awareness. It allows the disability community to gather together to celebrate their uniqueness and recognize that they are a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride. Additionally, this visibility plays an important part in challenging systemic ableism and generating momentum for advocacy. According to a 2018 report by the CDC, “one in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life events.” In the LIS profession, librarians with disabilities are estimated to make up 3.7% of United States librarianship. However, visibility for librarians with disabilities is still a major issue. There have been few studies that have examined librarians with disabilities and even fewer professional organizations in this field that have disability-related groups or programs. A recent survey of academic librarians with disabilities found that this lack of awareness and cultural stereotyping impacted their workplace experience, most commonly through a reluctance to disclose their disability or a reluctance to request accommodations at work.
What can allies do?
Diversify the voices in your life by engaging with and supporting disability community members.
- The New York Public Library created this list of recommended books in celebration of Disability Pride Month.
- Love podcasts? Try The Accessible Stall and Disability Visibility, the latter of which is hosted by Alice Wong who has a book by the same name on the NYPL booklist. If you’d like to listen to something with a university-focus, Colorado State University’s Student Disability Center hosts the podcast Disability Dialogue, featuring voices and experiences from students and faculty.
- Follow accounts on Instagram and Twitter that promote diverse perspectives, such as Disability Together (@disabilitytogether) and Diversability (@diversability).
- Support disabled-owned bookstores, including Spurgin Stationers in Marfa (they ship!). Prefer audio books? Libro.fm put together this list of disabled-owned bookstores that have audio book storefronts.
Take time to educate yourself on ableism and where it exists.
- It’s important to understand the systemic ableism that exists in our society so that we can recognize issues and advocate for safe and accessible spaces for all. Follow these local Austin organizations to learn more about what’s happening with disability rights in our city:
Learn more about the history of Disability Rights and Disabilities Studies.
- Check out UTL’s Disability Studies LibGuide for more information, recommended readings, and additional resources.
- Read Elizabeth Gerberich’s blog post, Disability Studies: An Introduction, on the DAC website.
- Explore UT Arlington’s Texas Disability History Collection, featuring one of the largest online exhibits of archival material related to the disability rights movement in the state.
Support campus initiatives that help our disability community.
- Did you know that the Texas Center for Disabilities Studies and the Disability Advocacy Student Coalition started an initiative for a UT-Austin Disability Cultural Center? Follow their progress and learn about other disabilities-minded events on campus through their website.
- UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement routinely puts out resources for the campus disability community, including COVID-19 related resources.
- Housed under the DDCE department, Services for Students with Disabilities releases a monthly newsletter highlighting work and events happening around campus for students and faculty.
Get involved with disability-related organizations in the LIS profession.
- Society of American Archivists Accessibility and Disability Section is working to create an inclusive space for archivists with disabilities and allies.
- The book, Beyond Accommodation: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Disabled Library Workers, by Jessica Schomberg and Wendy Highby, applies critical disability theory to the library profession and discusses practical ways to improve our workplace.
- #CripLib is a hashtag used when discussing the intersection of disability and libraries, predominantly by library and archives workers with disabilities. It has expanded into a monthly chat hosted on Discord that features topics related to accessibility in the library profession. Follow the hashtag on Twitter or visit the website to get an invitation to the chat.
- Support the newly launched Disability Archives Lab, directed by Gracen Brilmyer, Assistant Professor at the School of Information Studies at McGill University, which hosts “multi-disciplinary projects and research initiatives that center the politics of disability, how disabled people are affected by archival representation, and how to imagine archival futures that are centered around disabled desires.”
Terminology and language used in this post was researched and selected using the National Center for Disability and Journalism’s Disability Language Style Guide.
- Katz, Linda S. Reference Services for the Unserved / by Linda S Katz. First edition. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis, an imprint of Routledge, 2019. Print.
- Oud, Joanne. “Academic Librarians with Disabilities: Job Perceptions and Factors Influencing Positive Workplace Experiences.” Partnership 13.1 (2018): 1–30. Web.
- Wong, Alice. Disability Visibility : First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century / Edited by Alice Wong. New York: Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2020. Print.
- Zames, Frieda, and Doris Fleischer. The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011. Print.
As the diversity and inclusion work done on UT campus continues to grow and gather steam, it has been helpful to have UT Libraries commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) as a guiding star for our work in the Scholarly Resources Division (SRD).
The liaison librarian team in SRD recently had the opportunity to talk with library colleagues about how IDEA informs our collection development work, and how we support others in their collection development work. Our team members are Carolyn Cunningham, David Flaxbart, Corinne Forstot-Burke, Bill Kopplin, Susan Macicak, Katy Parker, and Shiela Winchester. The team is committed to using an IDEA lens in all of our work, beyond special projects or short-term initiatives. This means that we approach every request for a book, every new product offer, and every decision about how to use collection funds with the frame of mind that we will strive to include diverse voices in our collection and orient ourselves toward finding and making available resources that include the many experiences and perspectives of our campus community and beyond. The team describes this work as a group effort, and we continuously learn from each other.
This embedded IDEA orientation is important because the academic publishing landscape does not necessarily represent all the voices that we want to include. The team recently looked at the results of the 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey together. This survey looked at diversity in the publishing industry, which included academic publishing participants. The respondents to this survey were 76% white, 97% cisgender, 81% heterosexual, and 89% non-disabled. For a quick point of comparison, 38.9% of UT students and 75.7% of UT professors are white. As the creators of the survey point out, “If the people who work in publishing are not a diverse group, how can diverse voices truly be represented in its books?”
Publishers are not the only influencers of what we add to our collections. User requests and emerging research areas are an important source of data for us. One exciting area of focus this past year has been strengthening our holdings related to the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights, and anti-racism topics. Bill Kopplin, social sciences librarian and coordinator, has compared our collections against peer libraries, kept an eye on campus reading clubs and resource lists, and worked directly with vendors to do a wide-ranging scan of publications in these areas to consider adding to our collection.
I can also point to the strong interdepartmental work of facilitating selection and discovery of important resources via catalog notes and subject headings. Folks from across UT Libraries work together to select and make available the U.S. Latinx LGBTQ Collection and Black Queer Studies Collection with local notes in our library catalog. This kind of focused attention is found throughout the work of our subject librarians, and our team is here to help get new efforts off the ground.
One programmatic aspect of collection building that our team works on closely is the major approval plans. These plans are arrangements with large vendors to automatically send us certain types of books published by essential publishers. We keep an eye on those plans to make sure they are bringing in the right material. By describing this process with words like “arrangements,” “large,” and “automatically,” I want to illustrate that it is easy for up-and-coming authors and small publishers to get left out. This is where the expertise of our knowledgeable subject librarians, as well as input from our users, comes in. While we aim to collect books that our researchers expect us to have from major publishers, we pay close attention to the requests we get from users through interlibrary loan, through our Suggest a Purchase form, and via our library colleagues. Those data tell us which things are missing from the collection. We also use these requests to update ourselves on new terminology, new classes being offered, and new and enduring research topics that are finding an audience on campus.
This work takes a village, and we will continue to learn from each other and respond to new opportunities to make our collections meet the needs of our current and future users.
Check out the following, which are just a few of the books brought in through this focus.
- An indigenous peoples’ history of the United States
- A Beginner’s Guide to America
- The pink line : journeys across the world’s queer frontiers
- Jim Crow Sociology The Black and Southern Roots of American Sociology
- Culture shock for Asians in U.S. academia : breaking the model minority myth
For more, check out the Building on Black Lives Matter post on TexLibris.
This Pride month, instead of writing about Queer history, like our 2019 posts on the Stonewall Riots and LGBTQIA+ History in the South, we want to focus on what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ ally in 2021.
2021 has already been another tough year for the queer community, with more killings of Trans people so far this year than in the whole of 2019 and a record number of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislations. Reports also show that the pandemic hit LGBTQIA+ people harder than non-LGBTQIA+ people.
Now that June is here, we’ll see a lot of the same old rainbow-washing, performative allyship aimed more at looking like an ally than at actually doing the work of allyship. So, what does allyship actually mean? At its core, allyship is about recognizing, understanding, and using your power. Though we focus on allyship to queer and trans communities during Pride in this post, we recognize that intentional, material allyship is vital across all axes of oppression—after all, we know that by building collective power, we can make meaningful change. We’re including some tips and some resources below to help you become a better ally.
Definitions of Allyship
Allyship – The practice of self educating about heterosexism and cisgenderism, educating others, and actively supporting LGBTQA+ individuals and causes. Allyship is practiced by cisgender, trans, and genderqueer people as well as straight, and LGBTQA+ identified people who support and advocate with LGBTQA+ people across communities. While the term “ally” implies a complete identity, “allyship” is an ongoing process. – Definition from UT Austin’s Gender and Sexuality Center. Learn more terms in our Glossary.
“Ally is a verb!” – @chescaleigh (I also just generally highly recommend this video!)
“Anyone has the potential to be an ally. Allies recognize that though they’re not a member of the underinvested and oppressed communities they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day. Because an ally might have more privilege and recognizes said privilege, they are powerful voices alongside oppressed ones.” – Amélie Lamont’s Guide to Allyship
“‘Alongside’ is a key word in allyship. A quote from Aboriginal elder, activist, and educator Dr. Lilla Watson sums it up: ‘If you have come here to help me, you’re wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.’ Being an ally is about recognizing your privilege, then using it in solidarity with marginalized groups to challenge the status quo. It involves working through discomfort, listening, and learning from mistakes.” – Annalee Schafranek
How to be an ally right now
- Examine your team dynamics, norms, expectations and policies to see where they may be privileging straight, cis life experiences.
- Call your state elected officials and express opposition to anti-trans bills.
- Donate to or volunteer at Out Youth, Austin Black Pride, or other local, grassroots organizations supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
- Ask your queer friends what barriers they may be experiencing to prevent them from truly enjoying Pride to the fullest this year, and then see what you can do to help them.
- Don’t have queer friends? Think about why that might be and what you might be able to do to develop healthy relationships with people in the queer community.
- Seek out queer creators. Learn from them and support their work.
- Support queer-owned local businesses, and prioritize your Pride-related purchases from queer makers and entrepreneurs.
- Educate yourself, especially on the history of Pride, the Stonewall Riots, and the trans women of color who started them! We’ve got a lot of great resources listed below.
How NOT to be an ally right now
- Ask your queer friends and co-workers to educate you about Pride or straight, cis privilege.
- Dress in rainbows and make a big deal about how you’re going to celebrate Pride (aka, rainbow-washing, see above).
- Think that Pride is just a big gay party without acknowledging its origin in collective uprising against police brutality.
- Think that Pride is just a big gay party without an awareness that its founding mother was a black, trans woman.
- Assume that just because I’m using Queer as an umbrella term in this post that all people who identify as LGBTQIA+ are comfortable with that term, which is steeped in oppression. It’s always best to ask rather than assume.
- Attend an allyship workshop presented by staff from UT’s Gender and Sexuality Center: https://diversity.utexas.edu/genderandsexuality/trainings-workshops/workshops/
- There’s More to Allyship Than Pride and Rainbows – https://www.glsen.org/blog/theres-more-allyship-pride-and-rainbows
- Here’s what a good LGBTQ ally looks like – https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/6/22/18700875/lgbtq-good-ally
- How to make your digital classroom more LGBTQ-Friendly – https://itgetsbetter.org/blog/lesson/how-to-make-your-digital-classroom-more-lgbtq-friendly/
- More Trans People Have Already Been Murdered in 2021 Than All of 2019 – https://www.them.us/story/poe-black-trans-activist-murdered
- 2021 Slated to Become Worst Year for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks as Unprecedented Number of States Poised to Enact Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ Measures Into Law – https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/2021-slated-to-become-worst-year-for-lgbtq-state-legislative-attacks
- 4 Ways to make your workplace equitable for Trans people, Life Kit from NPR
- As Anti-Trans Bills Advance, Trans Journalists Weigh In On ‘Privilege’ of Reporting, Consider This from NPR
- Mady M. Giuliani and J. R. Zuckerberg. A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities. Limerence Press, 2019.
- Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson. A Quick & Easy Guide to They/them Pronouns. Limerence Press, 2018.
- Talusan, Meredith. Fairest : a Memoir. Viking, 2020.
- Butt, Rex. Now What? A Handbook for Families with Transgender Children. Transgress Press, 2015.
- Brim, Matt. Poor Queer Studies : Confronting Elitism in the University. Duke University Press, 2020, doi:10.1515/9781478009146.
- HornRaiser crowd-funding campaign for UTL’s Black Queer Studies Collection: https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/project/26114
Related DAC Blog posts
What is critical race theory (CRT)? You’ve heard the expression, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature”? CRT operates on the basis that racism is alive and well in the United States, and that it’s not exclusively an interpersonal phenomenon, but something that’s baked into this country at a fundamental level, existing in financial, judicial, and educational systems, among others. Originating in the 1970s, CRT had mostly thrived in academic circles. The emergence of Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements has led to proliferation of CRT-informed diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that are now commonplace in corporate, academic, and yes, school environments.
What’s happening in the Lege? Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) introduced HB 3979 in the Texas House, and Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) introduced SB 2202 in the Texas Senate. These bills basically state objections to critical race theory in curricula on the grounds that it would indoctrinate Texas schoolchildren with beliefs that one race or gender is superior to others. The bills also require that Texas teachers must bothsides any issues if they elect to cover current events in their classrooms. The bills have met nearly unanimous opposition from historians and education organizations.
HB 3979 has passed out of the Legislature and was sent to the Governor on June 1, 2021. It is nigh unto impossible not to speculate that the Texas Legislature, having successfully proscribed critical race theory in the public schools, will next apply its ingenuity to the curricula of public universities.
Alfredo Véa writes in his novel, The Silver Cloud Café, “You must seek out remembrance, for ours is a land of amnesiacs who pretend that there is no past; that America is a multi-cultural land when, in truth, it is an anticultural place that has ever been blessed with persistent and enduring cultures that have survived never-ending efforts to drag them out of sight; push them out of mind; to imprison them in the past.”
Below you will find links to news, opinion, and further readings on critical race theory.
- Agnew, Duncan. (2021, May 5). “GOP lawmakers want to ban “woke philosophies” like critical race theory in Texas schools.” TexasTribune, https://www.texastribune.org/2021/05/05/texas-critical-race-theory-schools-legislature/
- Blackman, J. & C. Harris. (2021, May 6). “Texas Republicans target ‘critical race theory’ with bill to muzzle teachers on racism, sexism.” Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/Texas-Republicans-target-critical-race-16154920.php
- DeWitt, Kaylee. (2021, May 4). “What you need to know about Idaho’s critical race theory law.” abc4.com, https://www.abc4.com/news/local-news/what-you-need-to-know-about-idahos-critical-race-theory-law/
- Murphy, Sean. (2021, May 7). “Oklahoma governor signs ban on teaching critical race theory.” Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/oklahoma-race-and-ethnicity-d69cf5d38e3293884fca00ad3963a90e
- Pettit, Emma. (2021, May 12). “The academic concept conservative lawmakers love to hate.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-academic-concept-conservative-lawmakers-love-to-hate
- Romero, Simon. (2021, May 21). “A push in Texas to polish stains of race history.” The New York Times, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A662440903/OVIC?u=txshracd2598&sid=OVIC&xid=1f8394fe
- Svitek, Patrick. (2021, May 11). “Texas public schools couldn’t require critical race theory lessons under bill given initial House approval.” https://www.texastribune.org/2021/05/11/critical-race-theory-texas-schools-legislature/
- Wilson, Reid. (2021, May 5). “GOP legislatures target critical race theory.” TheHill.com, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/551977-gop-legislatures-target-critical-race-theory
- The Argument. (2021, May 19). “Does teaching America it’s racist make it less racist?” The New York Times, https://nytimes.com/2021/05/19/opinion/race-theory-us-racism.html?smid=url-share
- Attiah, Karen. (2021, May 21). “Texas wants to suppress our history, too.” The Washington Post, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A662558213/OVIC?u=txshracd2598&sid=OVIC&xid=36d7b4ed
- Republican Party of Texas. (2021, March 31). “Chairman Allen West’s statement on critical race theory.” https://www.texasgop.org/chairman-west-critical-race-theory/
- The Rude Pundit. (2021, May 13). “How public schools failed black and white children in the south by hiding the truth.” https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2021/05/how-public-schools-failed-black-and.html
LEARN ABOUT CRITICAL RACE THEORY
- Crenshaw, Kimberlé, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller, and Kendall Thomas, eds. (1995). Critical race theory: the key writings that formed the movement. New York: New Press. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991011882139706011
- Delgado, R., Harris, A., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical Race Theory : An Introduction. Third edition. New York: New York University Press. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991057958070506011
- Farmer, V., & Farmer, E. (2020). Critical race theory in the academy. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991058216520206011
- Han, Keonghee Tao and Judson Laughter, eds. (2019). Critical race theory in teacher education: informing classroom culture and practice. New York: Teachers College Press. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991048706679706011
- Karimi, F. (2021, May 10). “What critical race theory is… and isn’t.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/01/us/critical-race-theory-explainer-trnd/index.html
- Leung, Sofia and Jorge R. López-McKnight. (2021). Knowledge justice: disrupting library and information studies through critical race theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/knowledge-justice
- Lynn, Marvin and Adrienne D. Dixon, eds. (2013). Handbook of critical race theory in education. New York: Routledge. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991057948976406011
- Pitre, Abul, Tawannah G. Allen, and Estrom Pitre. (2015). Multicultural education for educational leaders: critical race theory and antiracist perspectives. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991057953215106011
- Sawchuk, S. (2021, May 18). “What is critical race theory and why is it under attack?” Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/what-is-critical-race-theory-and-why-is-it-under-attack/2021/05
- Valdes, Francisco, Jerome McCristal Culp, and Angela P. Harris, eds. (2002). Crossroads, directions, and a new critical race theory. Philadephia: Temple University Press. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991057922399106011
By Mandy Ryan
On June 9th, 2020, I stood in a long line waiting to vote in the 2020 presidential primary election in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. My polling place was located in the heart of Sweet Auburn, a historically black neighborhood that is home to the famous Ebenezer Church, The King Center, and the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. The line was so long that I couldn’t even see the building I was going to be voting in. More people were pouring in because their polling locations had closed overnight and they were told to come here at the last minute. The polling volunteer staff were short-handed and it wasn’t until after waiting two hours that many realized they weren’t standing in the right line for their temporary polling place. After three hours of waiting and three broken machines, I was finally able to cast my vote.
Five months later many would repeat this same struggle. Despite this, due to intense work by grassroots organizers, Black voter turnout increased by 25%, Latinx voter turnout by 18%, and Asian voter turnout by 12%. The increased voter turnout and mobilization of voters was due to the history of intense work by grassroots organizers, including an emerging breakout political leader, Stacey Abrams.
Who is Stacey Abrams?
Stacey Abrams has become a trailblazer as a political leader and had a huge impact on voter engagement, especially in underserved and diverse communities. Born in Wisconsin, she moved to Georgia in 1989 with her parents. Abrams earned a B.A. from Spelman College, before becoming a Texas Longhorn. She graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT with her Masters in Public Affairs in 1998 and went on to receive her JD from Yale Law School. She would later receive the LBJ School’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 2019.
Abrams returned to Georgia where she held various local political appointments, including Deputy City Attorney for the city of Atlanta. She was elected a member of the Georgia State House of Representatives in 2006, representing the 89th district. She was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and was the first African-American to lead in the House of Representatives. She remained a representative and was the minority leader for 11 years before relinquishing her seat to run for governor. In her spare time, Abrams is also an accomplished novelist under the pen name Selena Montgomery.
The 2018 Georgia Governor’s Race
In 2018, Abrams became the first Black woman to be nominated by a major party as a candidate for Governor in her home state of Georgia. She won the democratic primary against Stacey Evans by a landslide 75% of the vote and celebrated her historic win with a moving speech, saying, “We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired.”
Running against her was the current Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. Kemp held the position of Secretary of State for 8 years in a state that had earned a reputation as being one of the strictest on voting laws in the country. In 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights stated that “no state has done more than Georgia in recent years to make voting difficult, especially for minorities.”
Georgia policy dictated that the voter registration polls be routinely cleaned up to remove those who had died, moved away, or voters that hadn’t voted in the previous two elections. At the height of the election season, over 500,000 registered voters were removed from the list, with 107,000 due to inactivity.
Stacey Abrams lost the Governor race to Brian Kemp by 55,000 votes in a race that saw an all time record breaking voter turnout in Georgia. Over 4 million votes were counted, representing 74% of all registered voters, and broke the previous record of 3.9 million voters in 2008. The state also saw a record number of early-voting, with 2,418,550 Georgians casting their ballots in the 45 days leading up to the election.
In a speech ending her candidacy for governor, Stacey called out voting policies and restrictions in Georgia that made voting difficult and stated, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.”
She did acknowledge that Kemp would be the next governor of Georgia and the legitimacy of the election, but challenged the policies of disenfranchising voters and sought ways to improve election operations moving forward.
The Creation of Fair Fight
In her speech, Abrams introduced Fair Fight, an non-partisan initiative to fund and train voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. Fair Fight Action works to engage voter mobilizations and increase education on policies especially in underserved communities regardless of political affiliation. It also helps to combat and bring awareness to potential voter suppression in Georgia and across the nation. With Abrams’ work and support, Fair Fight and her previous organization, New Georgia Project went on to register over 800,000 new voters for the 2020 Presidential election.
Abrams’ part in engaging and mobilizing voters, increasing voter turnout in marginalized communities, and combating voter suppression in Georgia during the 2020 election season resulted in her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.
What’s Happening Now
Less than 6 months following the 2020 November Presidential election, Georgia State Representatives passed SB202, or “The Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The new law makes a number of changes to the current voting structure in Georgia. It makes the pandemic-era absentee or mail-in ballots permanent, but it limits the number of people who can request mail-in ballots, expands identification requirements to receive a mail-in ballot, and decreases the time to request them by half. Additionally, mail-in or absentee ballot drop boxes will be limited to just early voting days and have been moved inside government buildings.
Outside of mail-in voting, the bill also gives state-level officials the authority to take control of county election boards that have had reported issues in voting for the previous two years. It includes language that would remove the Secretary of State as chair of the State Election Board, and places decision-making in the hands of the 5 board members. Furthermore, the bill criminalizes third-parties providing water or food to those waiting in voting lines. Civil rights groups are speaking out, calling the bill voter suppression and in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
How It Affects Texas
While Georgia may be the first state to pass new voting laws, it’s probably not the last. In fact, over 41 states currently have bills on the docket that would change current voting procedure, including Texas. The Texas State Senate advanced Senate Bill 7, a bill similar to Georgia’s, imposing similar restrictions on mail-in ballots, limiting early voting periods, and prohibiting distribution of voter registration applications to those who don’t request them. The bill was widely debated in the house, with politicians adding amendments to address language that had advocates for Black, Latinx, and disabled voters concerned. The bill passed the house, but is still undergoing rewriting.
Organizations such as ARL have signed a Statement on Voting Rights by Higher Education, stating a concern that new policies regarding student voter registration may make voting more difficult across college campuses. Texas organizations, such as AARP and the Texas League of Women Voters also raised concerns for the impact it would have on constituents.
What Can You Do?
In honor of fellow Longhorn Stacey Abrams, and in light of the current state bills, I encourage you to stay informed on new voting laws and how they may affect your current voting process. Below are a list of resources to help you stay aware and keep you prepared so that your voting will go smoothly in the next election cycle. If you’d like to know more about Stacey Abrams, local Austin bookstore, Book People, will be hosting a virtual event with her this Saturday to discuss her new novel.
- Secretary of State’s VoteTexas.org
- Austin Public Library’s Elections & Voting Information Guide
- County Clerk Office’s Complete List of Travis County Polling Locations
- Voters Guide: League of Women Voters of Austin
- Vote Smart’s Bipartisan Candidate Database
Organizations Dedicated to Voter Mobilization:
- Move Texas: “MOVE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization building power in underrepresented youth communities through civic education, leadership development, and issue advocacy.”
- Common Cause – Texas: “Common Cause Texas has an innovative, pragmatic, and comprehensive pro-democracy agenda. We’re here to build a better democracy in our Lone Star State.”
- Jolt Initiative: “Jolt initiative is a 501c3 non-profit organization that increases the civic participation of Latinos to build a stronger democracy and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
- Black Voters Matter: “Black Voters Matter goal is to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.”
- Rev-up Texas: a non-partisan statewide effort to outreach and to empower persons with disabilities and our allies to get more involved in electoral politics.
Organizations Promoting Diverse Political Candidates
Books by Stacey Abrams
- Abrams, S. (2020). Our time is now : power, purpose, and the fight for a fair America. (First edition.). Henry Holt and Company.
- Abrams, S. (2019). Lead from the outside : how to build your future and make real change. (First Picador edition.). Picador.