April 8, 2015 Letter to the Austin Chronicle

Is it the method or the message? Michael King’s “Point Austin Firestarter; If you want to attack institutional racism, you might pick an actual target” critiques the tactic of posting “Exclusively for White People” stickers on East Austin businesses,  while failing to engage with the real problems of Austin’s systemic racism. By denouncing the stickers and their creator (with cute but minimizing titles like Lawyer Looney Youtube and Pantsless Pundit), King distracts us from the significant issues they raised. Gentrifying businesses in East Austin, as well as the Austin Chronicle, are legitimate objects of scrutiny  as we work to deconstruct racism in Austin.

In its pursuit to be the heart of hip, white Austin culture, the Austin Chronicle can be counted on for slick, trendy journalism aimed at a mostly White audience. When will the Chronicle go deeper than criticizing a tactic, and write about the concrete consequences of racism in Austin and how racism can be undone?

How about an article on Mamas of Color Rising’s work to change conditions that make an educated, employed African-American pregnant woman in Austin twice as likely as a teen-aged, single, white pregnant woman to lose her baby? Or one on Angela Ward’s efforts to challenge discretionary discipline practices in AISD that shovel children of color into the school-to-prison pipeline, while mandatory discipline statistics show that white children are more likely to misbehave? We would like to see an article in these pages on the cultural underpinnings of the declining Austin African-American population while SXSW and Austin City Limits attract new white residents in droves. Publish stories that take your readers beyond the latest coffee shop and music scenes into the lives of Austin’s historic Black and Latino communities.

The White Caucus of Undoing Racism Austin

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