How Tinder Highlights Austin’s Racial Hierarchy

Dating seems to suck in general. No matter where I live or who I talk to, there’s always something: in LA everyone is self-centered, in Austin everyone is too busy, it’s hard to find people with no kids, it’s hard to find people you can talk to about anything but TV, etc.

Recently, though, I had a conversation with a handsome young friend of mine who outlined pretty blatantly what Austin’s dating world is like if you don’t happen to be a tall, white dude. My friend is an Asian man and this is a paraphrase of what he told me:

“Dating is hard. With Tinder, I dunno, it’s like as an Asian man you’re at the bottom of the list. First there’s white guys, then Hispanic guys, then black guys, then Asian guys.”

Mind you my friend is not a blogger or a social critic — he’s just a dude trying to get a date — but I thought his comments were particularly insightful and revealing of a place that I love and would like to see grow into its potential. I have heard or seen these preferences play out in bars and parties myself, but the “Tinder effect” struck me as particularly harsh.

Having been doing the dating thing myself here for a few months, I will admit that it’s hard out there for anyone, really, but can you imagine if through no fault of your own people were already inclined to not pursue you or “your type”? That would suck more, I think.

And it’s not that I think it’s racist to date people like yourself exclusively — I’ve written before about how I don’t think my preference for Latino men is racist. But a growing and increasingly diverse city with no or very little mixing? The “I don’t see race” attitude is really just a way of skipping over something that’s uncomfortable without understanding why. (Science: Most whites don’t have non-white friends, discussing race can help non-whites achieve more in the classroom, millennials think ignoring race is the same as dissolving racism).

Stereotypes exist. I just saw these caricatures of Chinese and Mexican people on candy at the HEB by my house last week. Someone on Facebook said they were no big deal, but the truth is I’ve never met a Chinese person with no actual eyes, I did recently meet a Chinese man with a heavy heart, though, and it really brought home how dehumanizing and other-ing stereotypical attitudes and beliefs can be.

Since I’ve been in town I’ve been on dates with Latinos and Asians, thought I’ve fended off creepsters from a variety of backgrounds, and I don’t know what the answer is. I grew up with an immigrant-rich community in LA where people from diverse backgrounds inter-marry all the time: Salvadorans married Philippinos, “blaxicans” are a thing, whites dated Vietnamese folks, and it just seemed normal to me.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I think it’s part of what I’ve been harping about on this blog since I started it: Texas, you’re not the way you used to be and you need to adjust accordingly. If you don’t, not only will you be acting like a douche, but you will be hurting yourself because change is already here, and you’re going to look like an idiot pitchin’ a fit by the time you realize it.

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The Price of Austin’s ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’? Critical Infrastructure Development

Recently I was telling a friend about Austin’s “Gentleman’s Agreement” to only allow one Latino and one black city council member to be elected at large at any given time and she exploded.

“What?! Sara you have to write about this, you have to expose this, people need to know!”

I laughed and I told her that everybody knows. It’s the way we do business here. It’s not a secret. And perhaps it was her LA sensibilities, or the fact that she’s never drunk Texas water, but she just didn’t get how we could live in a reality where that type of thing was blatant and yet acceptable.

Well, I told her, it’s about time for Austin to pay the piper for its bad choices.

As you probably know, Austin will be electing its first crop of candidates from districts (as opposed to at large) and many of them have never done this before. You know, perfect timing, given that 100 people are said to move to this town every day, and the roads, bridges, freeways, stop lights and parking haven’t kept pace.

What do you think it’s going to be like for a bunch of newbies to handle a growing city’s infrastructure? Think about that for a minute.

If this city had done the right thing a long time ago and included those who were helping the city grow in its governance, we would already have a seasoned group of local politicos who understand how to get things done, what needs to be done and the best options for doing it.

Instead, the reality that ignorance and exclusion hath wrought, is that, at a time when this city needs faster, better and more efficient infrastructure, we’ll be depending on a group of people who are learning as they go along. I’m not saying that the candidates aren’t smart, or professional, or worthy, or good — so hold your trolling right there.

Politics is tricky, it’s hard, it’s nuanced, it requires experience, and while we will most likely have some familiar faces back on council after this election, it’s more likely that we will have people who are inexperienced. I’ve built the plane while flying it plenty of times, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to run a city, let alone a city that’s growing at such a fast rate as Austin.

But that’s the consequence of the “Gentleman’s Agreement” Austin city leaders have maintained over the years, except it’s more likely that it will be us (as we sit stuck in traffic) that will feel the effects of it much more so than them.

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Sans Rackspace, Julián Castro, what’s the backup plan for SA?

San Antonio has been booming the past few years. You see the city on all of these lists — fastest growing, booming, etc. — and for me at least it’s a far cry from what people used to say about San Antonio when I went to high school there (“Keep San Antonio Lame,” etc.).

But now that San Antonio may be losing the celebrity of Mayor Julián Castro to the Administration and Rackspace to an acquisition, the city is going to have to ask itself some tough questions. What’s going to happen to all of those high-paying jobs, that reverberated in the community, helping everyone do a bit better? What about UTSA and other schools that began working to funnel high tech workers to Rackspace and its tech ecosystem?

It’s unlikely an Amazon or Google or Microsoft or whoever ends up buying Rackspace will keep most of these high-paying jobs in San Antonio in the even of an acquisition. But I’d argue that changes to San Antonio’s economy wouldn’t just affect the Alamo City — but Texas’ entire tech ecosystem.

One thing I always loved about Texas, as compared to California say, is that the state operates like an organism in the sense that every region is important to every other region in so many ways. Because most cities are a few hours’ drive away, you can live in San Antonio, jaunt up to Austin for a meeting, to Houston for the weekend, and Dallas for Christmas. Or whatever — the point is, there’s a flow of people, commerce and ideas between all of Texas’ cities.

And as the state has been growing in its tech potential in the past few years, hotspots of particular innovation have sprung up in each city — but no tech hub is an island. I firmly believe that San Antonio’s success as a tech city came in part because Dallas, Austin, Houston and even El Paso were also ramping up their tech economies in ways that benefitted everyone.

Business is business, and it would seem that Rackspace has matured as a company to the point where it has no choice but to sell out to a Goliath, now that everyone wants in on the Cloud. But what’s the Plan B, for San Antonio, for the rest of the state?

I think San Antonio is much more than a one-company town, but Rackspace has been instrumental in creating an environment there where startups and entrepreneurs can make it happen. These folks, in turn, find allies and collaborators in other Texas cities, which makes the Lone Star State a better cradle for tech all over the place.

Whatever happens with Rackspace, I hope that everyone in San Antonio is planning for the next big thing — and that everyone else in the state is doing the same.

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What’s Up Texas? Julián Castro in DC & GOP worries about immigrants, gays, Muslims

Hi there, what if you could get updates on Texas goings-on through a short video instead of hurting your brain by reading? I have the answer for you! My new “What’s up Texas?” video series on YouTube.

You can subscribe here, but first you have to login to your Gmail account. That way you can get email updates every time I publish a video.

Of course, you could also follow us on Twitter, follow me on Twitter. There’s always that.

Thanks for stopping by, see you soon! And as ever, please leave me your comments — either on here, Twitter or YouTube. Enjoy the video!


As Texas Gets More Diverse, Press Corps Stays Mostly White & Male

In 2009 I, like thousands of other journalists, was laid off from my job. It sucked on a very existential level, obviously an economic one, but I was fortunate in that I had the support of my family and friends and was able to bounce back after a time. In that sense, I had it way better than a lot of people who, during that same time, lost their jobs and fared (and continue to fare) much worse.

Looking back at losing my job, I realize that I was part of a trend during that layoff spree that continues to affect the news we consume in the U.S. — the fact that, due to cuts made largely by “seniority” — more women and minorities were let go from newsrooms than white dudes. This trend, if you look at the bylines of the people writing stories about Texas politics (largely centered around policies specifically affecting Latinos or women), is absolutely mortifying in the Lone Star State.

Think of it this way: as Texas becomes increasingly Latino, and issues of women’s rights and LGBT rights become more prominent, it’s going to be old, straight white guys explaining that importance, significance, and meaning of these policies to the affected communities.

What do you think about that? Anyway, statistics time! In bullet point form because, TL;DR:

  • In 2012 during the election, 93% of front page stories were written by white reporters. Only 4% were written by Asians, 2.1% by blacks/African Americans and .9% (yes less than 1%) by Latinos. LINK
  • Just 12.3% of newsrooms are made up of minorities but make up 37% of the U.S. population. LINK
  • Newsroom employment is down 2.4% in 2011, but 5.7% for non-whites. LINK
  • 2/3 of all newsrooms are male. LINK

It’s not just newspapers, but cable, online news outlets, and magazines, too.

Diversity is good for business, it’s been shown in studies (here, here, here, and here for example), and in Texas it’s kind of pathetic that we have mostly straight, middle class white dudes trying to talk about the impact of LGBT policies in Houston or DNA testing exonerating black inmates in Dallas or how single member districts in Austin will affect the Latino community.

Plus, I keep hearing all of these outlets talk about “reaching out to Hispanics.” It makes me want to barf on myself that they say they’ll do anything to get in with Hispanics — except hire any of them. What’s up with that? To them I just have to say, call me, I know plenty of qualified candidates who have what you need to penetrate the Latino community.

And don’t get me wrong — some of my best friends are old, white guys. My mentors in the industry were, more often than not, old, white guys and their kindness and support and encouragement was awesome. I wouldn’t have become the writer or thinker or journalist I am today without them, and the best of them would agree with this column.

If Texas outlets want to reach out to Hispanics, women or the LGBT community — or more concretely — reach into their pocketbooks, how about giving them an incentive by hiring some of them and thus making your product more relevant? Just my 2 cents…

Hit me up on the Tuiti @SaraChicaD.


The Real Meaning of Julián Castro’s HUD Nomination

Over the weekend I received a text from one of my politics-obsessed friends: “NYT: Castro to get HUD.” As I was out and about, more interested in the conjunto festival in San Antonio than its political shakeup, it took a while for all of that political dust to settle on my distracted brain.

Once it did, however, the first thought that came to mind was not what Castro’s move meant for the 2016 election and whispers of a potential VP nomination from Hillary Clinton. No, my thoughts were much more local: too bad for San Antonio.

Julián and Joaquín Castro are among the most exciting rising political stars to come from Texas in a long time, replete with a rags-to-riches, against-the-odds story that had a happy ending. And as I recently explained to a friend from California, it’s not like there’s another dozen of them, or anyone similar to them, waiting in the wings in Texas somewhere to step in once they move onto bigger and better things.

If the Castro brothers both go to Washington, Texas is gonna have to do some soul searching to find the next batch of rising stars.

Why aren’t there more talented and experienced Latino politicos from Texas who have that most important quality, that je nais se quoi, that it? That’s a good question, unfortunately the answers aren’t particularly reassuring.

Let’s take the self-anointed bastion of liberalism in Texas as an example: Austin. This year the city elects council members from 10 districts for the first time, shattering an honored “gentleman’s agreement” that meant that only one Latino and only one African American could ever be on the city council at any given time — this at a time when the Latino population was growing like crazy.

How many liberals does it take for Latinos to receive fair representation?

And, as an illustration of how overdue these districts and this representation are, you need only look at who’s filing to run in these districts. There are several Latinos running in almost every one of these districts, even as councilman Mike Martinez vies for mayor. Latinos running for all these seats represents a political hunger that’s been repressed for decades in the name of this “gentleman’s agreement” (And, come on, would a real gentleman be that threatened by a little competition?). I don’t mean to give Austin a bad rap for Texas’ dearth of Latino political talent; I just use it as an example of a prevalent attitude in the state.

One that ranks so low when it comes to education, health insurance, health and housing stats, etcetera — and when those numbers focus almost squarely on Latinos, what do you expect? When you blatantly talk about non-existent voter fraud and barely hide the fact that you’re looking to disenfranchise Latinos, what do you expect? When the Democratic party counts on Latino votes, yet doesn’t invest in Latino leadership (the first Latino Chair was elected in 2011!), what do you expect? When you ignore decades’ worth of warnings from the likes of your own state demographer like some climate change naysayer, what do you expect? When you’re one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, what do you expect?

I have a hard time imagining San Antonio without Mayor Castro, since the media has covered the city’s growth in tandem with his political growth. What’s even harder for me to imagine is a Texas with only two political Latino superstars — where are the rest? In a state as awesome and rich as Texas, I know there are many other treasures to be found here. Castro’s rise is great for Texas — imagine if we had five more talented people like him, Texas would be unstoppable!

As Mayor Castro is wont to point out, Latinos are part of America’s future; they are the future of Texas, too. But if that’s the case, Texas sure has a funny way of showing it.

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