Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Shall Fear No Evil

For the past year, one thing has caused me dread. Now that time is upon me. Today I return to Texas to pack and ship the last of my items still there. Fortunately, it will only be for a short time. Still, I am not looking forward to it. While the politics in Texas are atrocious, my real reluctance derives from the fact that returning will surely dredge up some of the worst memories of my life.

At the same time, I am happy that I will get to see some people who are important to me. Also, I will always be grateful to my former Texas institution for the job that I had.

Once I have completed my task in Texas, I will make the long drive with my car to Midwestern Funky Town. After that, I will fly back to Boston for my last time few weeks here.

In the meantime, here are some things that you might or might not know about the state ofTexas:

    * The Mexican federal government never recognized Texas as an independent nation. When Santa Anna return to Mexico, the Congress disregarded the agreement he made with the Texan forces. For Mexico, Texas was a territory in rebellion.

    * Mexico emancipated all slaves in the republic in 1829. Texas refused to oblige. In 1835, Mexico once again banned slavery within its boundaries. Texas ignored this law.

    * Under Spain and Mexico, Texas was a fraction of its current size. Its current boundary at the Rio Grande was a total Euro-American invention without historical basis. The original boundary of Texas ended at the Nueces River.

    * Texas launched an invasion of New Mexico in 1841 with the intent of claiming it as part of their rebellion. Leaders in Texas believed that they would be greeted as liberators. When they arrived in New Mexico, they were promptly arrested and sent to Mexico City as prisoners. Their defeat was widely celebrated in New Mexico.

    * A nineteenth-century-New-Mexico playwright created a dramatic interpretation of the 1841 Texan defeat. It has my favorite line of dialog ever: “You insolent Texans, how dare you profane the territory of Mexicans?”

    * During the U.S. Civil War, Texas attempted to invade New Mexico again. They were defeated again by the predominantly Mexican Union Army stationed in New Mexico.

    * Dr Pepper was invented in Texas.

    * El Paso, Texas is geographically closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas, Texas.

    * Texas had not officially claimed to be an independent nation at the time of the Battle of the Alamo.

    * On January 6, 1915, a radical group of Mexicans issued the “Plan de San Diego.” in San Diego, Texas. Essentially, the plan called for Mexicans, African Americans, and Asians to unite against a common Euro American enemy. As a response to the numerous lynchings suffered by Mexicans and African Americans in Texas, they called for the murder of all Euro American men over the age of 16.

    * Students at the University of Texas voted singer Janis Joplin the “Ugliest Man on Campus” when she was attending the school in the early 1960s.

    * Texas is the nation’s top producer of wool.

    * The song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written about an African American woman of mixed ancestry. The titular reference to “yellow” was commonly used in the nineteenth century to describe an African American who had a “lighter” complexion. The original lyrics read:

      She's the sweetest rose of color
      This darky every (sic) knew
      Her eyes are bright as diamonds
      They sparkle like the dew
      You may talk about dearest May
      And sing of Rosa Lee
      But the yellow rose of Texas
      Beats the belles of Tennessee

    In the twentieth century, all references to race were expunged. The new lyrics read:

      She's the sweetest little rosebud
      This soldier ever knew

    * When asked directly about the consequences a 2005 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage would have on real-life queer Texans, Governor Rick Perry responded, “Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live.”

    * Over 2 million children live in poverty in Texas.

    * Has the highest percentage of children without health insurance in the nation at a shocking 20.3 percent.

    * State and Federal environmental agencies have found that the Hayes-Sammons Chemical Co. left a significant amount of toxic waste in the predominately Latino community of South Mission. Efforts by residents to seek compensation for illnesses and deaths related to this contamination have been ignored since 1972. The Texas Supreme Court has refused to hear a case pending since 1999. This story is repeated countless times across the border area.

    * In 2003, school children became required to recite a “Texas Pledge of Allegiance.”

    * On June 15, 2007, the phrase “under God” was added to this Pledge.

    * Texas murders more prisoners as part of state-sponsored executions than any other state in the nation.

    * Texas Penal Code 2016 makes it a felony to sell sex toys in the state.

    * It is also illegal for any individual to own more than five sex toys in Texas. Owning six sex toys is considered “intent to sell” under the Texas law.

    * Texas has three of the largest cities in the U.S.: Houston (Fourth largest), San Antonio (Seventh Largest), and Dallas (Ninth Largest).

    * Texas also has three of the fattest cities in the nation: Houston (The fattest in the nation), Dallas (sixth fattest in the nation), and San Antonio (Tenth fattest).

    * Texas is a non-white majority state. The student body at the University of Texas, however, is less than 15 percent Hispanic and only 3.9 percent African American. At Texas A&M University, 11 percent of the students are Hispanic and around 3 percent identify as African American. The two flagship universities in the state, in other words, do not at all reflect the reality of the state’s population.

    * According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 221 victims of Hate Crimes in Texas in 2005. In other words, in less than every two days, somebody in Texas is attacked based on their perceived race or sexual orientation. This number is also probably a serious undercount as the DOJ is notoriously conservative in considering what constitutes a “hate crime.”

    * John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. Moments before he was shot, the wife of the Texas governor, Nellie Conally, told him "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."

    * It was revealed in 2005 that a captain at Val Verde Correctional Facility and Jail in Del Rio, Texas displayed a picture of himself in a Ku Klux Klan hood on his desk.

    * Houston is currently building an eighteen-lane highway. It’s a not so subtle “Fuck You” to the environment.

    * George Bush, Sr. has his presidential library at Texas A&M University.

    * Faculty at Southern Methodist University have protested a plan to build George Bush, Jr’s library at their university. The alma matter of Laura Bush, the SMU administration is strongly in favor of the idea and has ignored the faculty’s feelings on the matter.

    * The administration of George Bush, Jr’s own alma matter, Yale University, has expressed no interest in placing the library on their campus.


pacalaga said...

But even if it dredges up old rotten memories, you can (try to) rest easy in the knowledge that you're leaving it all behind for something better. I guess the punishment for all those people who helped create those rotten memories is that they still live in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Don't feel depressed, gayprof! Soon we will welcome you in MFT with homebaked goods. By which I mean the yummy yummy vodka beverage of your choosing. Seriously, be happy during this Texas trip becuase it is your farewell tour. Ceremonially say goodbye to and cast away everything you hate about the place, and make sure you spend a lot of time doing the things you love to do there - like seeing your friends.

Anonymous said...

You're much kinder than I might have been, and I'm still stuck here :)

However, upon my continuing to ask prominent and well-known faculty in my humanities department, which I like to think of as a happy little pocket of liberalism in this God-forsaken-Land of Tradition - why they came here and how the hell they stay, they explained:
"One can get a job in a university where everyone else (or the majority) already agrees with you, which might make things more comfortable for you. Or, one can choose to work where they work is still needed and be challenged by not insurmountable difficulties such a job poses."
This is the only thing that's gotten me through teaching in this state.

*As a side note, thank you for telling us about the June 07 change to the Texas pledge in schools. I'll make sure to be in my daughter's 3rd grade class this Fall to see if/how this is implemented, and you can bet your ass that she won't be participating!

Roger Owen Green said...

Yikes is right. i knew about a lot of that stuff, especially the 1837-1865 info, but there's enough that I didn't know to make me VERY AFRAID. Glad you're getting out.

vuboq said...

Good luck with the trip and packing and driving and leaving Texas forever! *woot*

Interesting about "The Yellow Rose of Texas" ... I would have never put that together.

Clio Bluestocking said...

GayProf, you have nailed the spirit of Texas. The place is the Belly of the Beast.

Marius said...

Well, as neighbor girl said, consider this your farewell tour. Your relationship with Texas is finally coming to an and. Drive safely. :)

Marius said...


Antonio said...

The term yellow definitely survives today. When I was a kid my cousin and younger bro were called 'yellow' due to their light complexion. I don't remember there being any mean-spirited intention behind it, as most of the people who used the term were our own family members.

Yale doesn't want GWB's presidential library? How else will they celebrate his legacy? LOL.

Have a safe trip and drive up to MFT. I suggest leaving the cat in a kennel. ;)

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, yellow, or "high yellow" meant a lighter-skinned black. I loath to go into it, but there's been, historically, with vestiges still extant, a whole pecking order based on skin color among black people.

On another matter:

Roger Owen Green said...

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're glad you're leaving that place. Now, on to the new life in MWFT. On your way there, stop by. I think I might be just a little out of your way....but worth the drive.

The vodka's on ice.

Anonymous said...

Wow. After reading this I can only wonder how any justice loving, tolerant people emerge from the state of Texas at all!

Keep safe, drive carefully, and enjoy seeing your friends.

P.S. I've lit a candle for Cat (and you).

Artistic Soul said...

Chalk up the sex toys to another reason not to live in Texas.

goblinbox said...

Good luck with the stuff-retrieval. I know how that goes. *smooch*

Joplin: Ouch.

Alan Williams said...

I'm making my own move to IL at the end of the month, in July. Maybe we'll end up umping into each other somehow, since we'll both be in the same state, even if it isn't the same town. And B-N *does* have a good comic shop....

Mike said...

Some great people came from Texas. Ann Richards, Ladybird Johnson, Molly Ivins, Dan Rather, Bill Moyers (born in OK but raised in TX), Carol Burnett, Janis Joplin, and Walter Cronkite.

I cannot imagine an eighteen-lane highway, that just boggles the mind.

Population One said...


GayProf said...

Pacalaga: Yes, many of the mean people do still live in Texas (which explains a lot of their own personal unhappiness). Even those who moved away in the interim, however, are also leading very empty and sad lives from what I understand.

Neighbor Girl: My farewell tour has involved lots of baked goods, but somehow I suspect you are a better chef.

Anon: The Texas Pledge of Allegiance, in general, creeped me out. By adding "under God," the state is once again showing its narrow mindedness.

ROG: Something very bad is developing in Texas. I think that we are all not aware of it yet.

VUBOQ: I only recently learned this about the "Yellow Rose" as well when I was reading an academic article about it.

Clio: It is the belly! We are seeing what happens when "Texas attitude" is taken to the federal government and international relations.

Marius: Well, I will still have connections to Texas as some family members live in the state and, of course, a number of friends.

Antonio: I don't think "Yellow Rose" was written with mean intentions, either. Texas, however, has seemingly decided that it doesn't want its song associated with people of color.

Marlan: Thanks for the invite. My drive schedule is a bit tight and I don't think I will have time (I need to get to MFT in order to fly back to Boston by Thursday). Still, given our relative proximity, I am sure we will meet soon.

Cooper: Thanks for the candle! Cat could probably use it more than me.

Artistic Soul: How backwards is a state when devices for pleasure are outlawed but guns are practically issued at birth?

GoblinBox: My stuff has been removed. Yea!

Alan: We like Illinois -- Especially Chicago.

Mike: Fair enough -- Did you notice, though, that most of the people on your list moved away from Texas as soon as they could?

B.: Now if only there was a cowboy to ride...

dykewife said...

kennedy was shot on my mom and dad's 13th wedding anniversary

Anonymous said...

'During the U.S. Civil War, Texas attempted to invade New Mexico again. They were defeated again by the predominantly Mexican Union Army stationed in New Mexico."

I've been studying the US Civil War for about 40 years now and this is the first that I've heard that the Union forces stationed in NM were predominantly Mexican. I'm not being snotty, but can you provide some documentation? This is fascinating.