EDITOR’S NOTE: Denise Shabazz traded one tough career for another when she left journalism to become an educator in Texas.
By DENISE SHABAZZ
For the first time in nearly 30 years, Texas is in play to possibly become blue.
It’s the kind of news that makes me feel equal parts giddy and manic.
Giddy because vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris came to my hometown of Houston on Oct. 30 to speak to supporters and undecided voters at Rice University, effectively putting the state into play. This is historic because Harris’ visit to the Lone Star State is the first such presidential campaign stop by a Democrat in more than 20 years.
This has not been lost on Donald Trump’s cult.
On the same day as Harris’ visit to Houston, Trump cultists tried to ambush and run a Biden-Harris campaign bus off the highway near Pflugerville, a suburb north of Austin, according to The Daily Beast. So much for those good, law-abiding suburban voters. Trump’s son, Don Jr., also urged the Trump Train to give Harris a Texas welcome in Fort Worth, “Trump style,” according to The Beast. Red hot MAGA showed up and forced the Biden campaign to cancel the event due to safety concerns.
Yes, Texas is now an official battleground state and the viciousness that Trump’s cult is demonstrating gives me hope and also pause, because the stakes could not be higher.
Trump demanded that schools be open in the midst of a pandemic. Let me remind you that Houston is red — not political red, but COVID-19 red, showing the highest level of infection. The president has offered no plan for supporting schools or governors, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has virtually disappeared. So, the schools have been left to their own devices to safely reopen.
Consequently, every day, going to work is like walking a tightrope.
You never know when your number is up, whether your school day will be shut down or whether you’ll get that dreaded positive test.
At my own school, we have had COVID survivors, some who fought for their lives for months while on ventilators. And no, these weren’t teachers age 50 and above with those underlying conditions you hear so much about.
We’re also teaching in a hybrid fashion, like most schools across the nation. And that’s come with its own set of challenges.
English language learners, many of whom are immigrants from Mexico, can’t effectively learn online. Either they’re too ashamed to turn on their virtual cameras revealing their poor home life, or they have checked out emotionally. Students also struggle to take on full-time shifts at the local Whataburger or some other minimum wage job to fill the gap in their own homes because their parents have lost jobs due to COVID-related unemployment. They can’t make those online virtual sessions all the time and they’re failing class. And please don’t lecture me to open the state to save jobs. You can do both responsibly. The problem is our unhinged leader never offered a national mask-wearing strategy to balance both safety and economics.
No, teachers, are not nurses, doctors, firefighters, police or EMTs. But they wear capes too, and they’re struggling emotionally to hold it together every single day.
For all you Texans who are still undecided — which I don’t know how you can be at this point — consider the facts, not fake news.
- Nearly 300,000 American people have died from COVID-19.
- Trump told non-fake journalist Bob Woodward that COVID-19 was “deadly stuff” back in February, but then publicly proclaimed that churches would be open at Easter.
- Trump himself contracted COVID-19, but after getting government-funded care at Walter Reed Hospital, he immediately returned to his cult rallies, mocking people who wore masks.
- Trump and his administration pushed through Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett while Americans were early voting, despite his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, being prevented by Republicans from putting up his candidate half a year before the 2016 election.
- Trump wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in the midst of a pandemic with no cure.
- Trump and his sycophant, Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, have refused to negotiate a second stimulus bill with Democrats to help those suffering physically and economically from COVID-19.
- Trump allowed immigrant Mexican children to be locked in cages like modern-day black slaves — separated from their parents — when he enforced stringent border policies in Texas, California and other border states.
- Trump continues to stoke the fires of racial division and violence, telling the Proud Boys, a racist, militia misogynistic group, to “stand back and stand by” during a nationally televised debate against Biden.
I could go on about how Trump used his power to pepper-spray peaceful protestors, or about his illegal use of the White House as a campaign prop, or about his conflicts of interest and his bankrupt businesses, or about his failure to pay taxes. You get the picture.
Why this presidential race is even close baffles me. I understand there are those who want to protect their financial interests, their tax break and 401K bottom lines. But what about the democracy, humanitarian bottom line?
I remember around this time four years ago, CNN’s John King was working his massive hands like a political shell game, lighting up bright red and blue states on a huge television map of America, noting where exit polling indicated the blue states that signaled a sure-fire Hillary Clinton win. Texas was not in play.
I woke up to a nightmare that has lasted a horrific four years.
My fellow Texans, I’m praying you can decisively help end that hell on November 3.