The Texas Observer5 min letti
The Woman Who Beat The Border Wall
On a cool September morning, Pamela Rivas picks me up in a light beige F-150 driven by her 24-year-old son, Ivan. Country music plays softly on the stereo. We’re in Edinburg, the Texas border city where they now live, but we’re headed west. A 60-year
The Texas Observer20 min lettiCrime & Violence
Locked Up And Left To Die
Armando Carrillo had been waiting outside the Nueces County Jail for hours when he heard sirens approaching in the middle of the night on March 5, 2018. He had visited the jail earlier that day to see his youngest son, Danny, 27, who had been incarce
The Texas Observer2 min letti
Editor’s Note
More than 1,000 people have died in county jails across Texas in the past decade. How these deaths are investigated is at the heart of our investigation “Locked Up and Left to Die”—a serious undertaking by reporters Michael Barajas and Sophie Novack
The Texas Observer17 min letti
The Export Boom
THE VIEWING deck at Port Arthur’s City Hall offers visitors to the industrial city a view of the small downtown and the glimmering waterway. The channel is lined with massive tankers and refineries. John Beard, a former city councilman, can name each
The Texas Observer12 min letti
Fragile Evidence
In 2008, just after college, I spent the summer traveling across Texas in a midnight-blue Corolla with a crooked “Yes We Can!” Obama bumper sticker. I’d been hired by a new organization called the Texas After Violence Project, founded by Walter Long,
The Texas Observer1 min letti
PRESENTED BY Any consideration of the Texas Observer would be incomplete without an appreciation for the political cartoons and original artwork found in its archive. Over the years, the Observer’s pages have featured pointed illustrations that skewe
The Texas Observer34 min letti
Texas Observer
We would not be here today after 67 years without each and every one of you. Whether it’s helping with your membership dollars or extra donations, sharing on social media, passing your issue along to a library, or just telling your friends and family
The Texas Observer5 min letti
In ‘Keeping House,’ The Unseen Is At The Forefront
Veronica Ceci held two jobs after earning her master’s degree in printmaking in 2014. The first was as a master printer at Austin’s Flatbed Press, a role that involves the skilled use of printing presses, tools, materials, and processes to help other
The Texas Observer6 min letti
Indigenous Radio In Texas
It’s a gloomy, overcast Sunday evening in August, and Albert Old Crow pulls a collapsible crate on wheels that held two giant CD binders from his maroon truck. Old Crow, 66, is host of the Beyond Bows and Arrows radio program in Dallas. He’s tall wit
The Texas Observer1 min letti
Reader Notes
Carlton Carl remembers distinctly how he first ran across the Texas Observer. “It was probably 1956 or ’57 when the Observer was still young,” he says. “My father handed me a copy of the Observer which was still then a broadsheet, and the (Wisconsin)
The Texas Observer2 min letti
Strangest State
Patty Tidwell awoke one night to find that a massive python had taken up residence in her toilet. She called animal control, which responded quickly and somehow captured the reptile using Tidwell’s own hair straightener. Police told NewsWest 9 that t
The Texas Observer1 min letti
The Last Texan Killed In Afghanistan
Texan David Lee Espinoza was 3 months old when the events that would lead to his death began. In the wake of 9/11, hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers would be pulled into the war on terror, a war started by a Texan that spanned four pres
The Texas Observer1 min letti
2 Poems
Recently, I have been to the middle of the earth,And it was very hot.But there was no one thereTo tell about it. * Through some divine repugnance of your own,You would not scatter easy, caught the wind,And blew back in my face. And was it love,Or ins
The Texas Observer4 min letti
Pauline Oliveros Emerges From The Underground
The mythos of Pauline Oliveros begins, in many tellings, underground. In the fall of 1988, the Houston-born composer and accordionist crawled with her friend, composer Stuart Dempster, into a 2-million-gallon cistern below a decommissioned U.S. Army
The Texas Observer5 min letti
Invisible Scars
I was watching TV one night about four years ago when my friend Latrice bounced into the prison common area. She’d just gotten mail and found out her mom had finally saved enough money to bring her five kids to visit from Houston. She could barely co
The Texas Observer1 min letti
Texas Jails Routinely Cycle In And Out Of Compliance With Minimum State Standards
215 JAILS have failed at least one TCJS inspection from 2010–2020. An average of 45 JAILS failed at least one TCJS inspection each year. ■
The Texas Observer5 min lettiCrime & Violence
On The Merits
This election cycle, the first high-profile Democrat to announce a statewide run in Texas is also one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers. Lee Merritt, who this summer announced he would challenge indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton i
The Texas Observer4 min letti
Dan Patrick’s Critical Erasure
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is heartsick and afraid. He’s scared for his six grandchildren, who may grow up in a country that rejects its greatness in exchange for wokeness and anti-whiteness. Critical race theory and the New York Times’ 1619 Pro
The Texas Observer1 min letti
The Texas Observer
EDITOR IN CHIEF Tristan Ahtone INTERIM EDITOR IN CHIEF Gabriel Arana EXECUTIVE EDITOR Megan Kimble ASSOCIATE EDITORS Christopher Collins, Sophie Novack DIGITAL EDITOR Danielle Lopez SENIOR REPORTER Lise Olsen STAFF WRITERS Amal Ahmed, Michael Barajas
The Texas Observer5 min letti
Beyond Books In Pottsboro
On a hot September afternoon, 16-year-old Jackson Biffar drove west to the town of Pottsboro, a rural community of 2,500 people north of Dallas. He started his journey from Ivanhoe, another tiny town an hour away, just south of where the Red River de
The Texas Observer10 min letti
A Group Claiming To Be Cherokee Faces Questions About Authenticity
In the blistering September day that ended Grape fest, a wine festival in Grapevine outside of Dallas, Mayor William Tate pushed up the brim of his cowboy hat and addressed the crowd gathered for the unveiling of a new public work of art: Peace Circl
The Texas Observer16 min lettiAmerican Government
On March 2, Governor Greg Abbott entered a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock wearing a black cloth mask. As he waited to be introduced, Abbott adjusted the ear loops and gave a small tug on the fabric covering his mouth. A moment later, perhaps rememberi
The Texas Observer8 min lettiSocial Science
Code of silence
HOUSTON AND GALVESTON, TEXAS, MARCH 2007 Cathy McBroom felt herself unraveling as she drove back to the brick house she shared with her husband, Rex, and youngest son, Caleb, in the quiet Houston suburb of Clear Lake. It was still early on Friday, Ma
The Texas Observer1 min lettiAmerican Government
Texas Tally
TWO new congressional seats were awarded to Texas after the 2020 Census, for a total of 38 districts. Ninety-five percent of the past decade’s population growth has come from Hispanic, Black, and Asian people. Yet the GOP’s map increased the number o
The Texas Observer14 min letti
No Other Option
Gerald Nielson’s back pain has plagued him ever since the day in 1986 when he crashed his Trans Am while going 80 miles an hour. The accident broke his back in several places and left him with a constant, searing ache from his neck to his tailbone. T
The Texas Observer5 min letti
All In The Family
Bryan Parras recalls a time in elementary school when he accompanied his dad on a work trip to Nederland, in Texas’ Golden Triangle. The warehouse where his dad organized county workers was “just one open vacant room with a bunch of chairs like you w
The Texas Observer17 min letti
Portraits Of The Pandemic
A year and a half into the pandemic, millions of Texans have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 54,000 have died. Vaccines brought family reunions and the hopeful, albeit short-lived, promise of a semi-normal summer. But with less than
The Texas Observer2 min lettiCrime & Violence
Editor’s Note
One of the most remarkable things about Texas justice is how it fails to confront power in any meaningful way. It’s an unyielding beast when it comes to drugs, immigration, violent crime, or so-called election fraud, but when it comes to corrupt poli
The Texas Observer5 min letti
On The Coronavirus, Loss, And My Mom’s Tacos
“Hijo, ya está la comida!” My mom shouted from the kitchen of our family home in Oak Cliff that my huevo con chorizo tacos were ready. It was New Year’s Eve 2020, and I’d been staying at my parents’ house for almost a week so my mom didn’t ring in th
The Texas Observer5 min letti
Promoting Equity
San Antonio has a history of electing young, fresh faces to city council—think Henry Cisneros and Julián Castro. In June, voters picked a 26-year-old math teacher named Jalen McKee-Rodriguez to represent the city’s historically Black East Side, makin
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