Texas Observer hires reporter to cover civil rights

July 17, 2017
Category: Business & Work

The Texas Observer, the progressive news magazine founded in the 1950s due partly to the notion “that most of mainstream media was, at best, ignorant of civil rights and, at worst, complicit in protecting racist institutions” has decided to add a position: civil rights reporter.

Forrest Wilder informs readers that the paper wants “to build on that legacy” by dedicating a position to “covering police violence, mass incarceration, attacks on voting rights, discriminatory policies and other issues of racial and economic injustice.”

He thus disclosed that Michael Barajas, who’s been editor of the San Antonio Current, a reporter there and for Houston Press covering criminal justice, will assume the new slot.

The position will be funded partly by the Ford Foundation, and Wilder left little to the imagination as to the genesis of the move.

He noted a recent history of federal rulings that the state legislature intentionally discriminated against racial minorities, notably via new voter ID laws or Republican-led redistricting.

He portrayed the legislature as resistant to even court mandate, saying the losses “don’t seem to have deterred Republicans.” He then cited its recent session and passage of “one of the most blatantly anti-immigrant and anti-Latino laws devised by a state legislature in years.” It lets police question individuals about their immigration status during even routine traffic stops.

And, he wrote, “This pattern is no coincidence.”

The state is “increasingly a state of black, brown and Asian people, most of whom lean left. The Legislature is overwhelmingly white and conservative. The color line among lawmakers is stark: All but six of the 66 Democrats are people of color. Every Democrat voted against SB 4. All but five of the 115 Republicans are white. Every Republican voted for SB 4.”

“The latter group feels its grip on power slipping but intends to hang on to it by any means necessary. Until the balance changes, the majority-minority will continue to assault the rights of the minority-majority.”