Page 21


The Observer’s Position What Bothers Us Vol. 73, No. 16 Austin Redistricting: to some it is nothing more than squiggly lines and numbers on a map, meaning nothing else but where a congressman will come from. To others, it is political survival. The way the line is drawn can leave an incumbent stranded in a field of enemy votes, assuring his political departure. There’s always an excuse to draw the line a certain way; this time it’s the minorities. You’ll never hear the politicians say anything else, except that nothing’s done for them, everything is for the underprivileged few the poor minorities. A black man working alongside me on the railroad, sweaty and tired, once turned to me and told me that “whenever a white man tells you he’s going to do you a favor, you better look around you.” And then he smiled. The Anglo boss who we were working with had just told him, putting his arm around the black man’s shoulder, that he was going to help him out and send him elsewhere to an easier job. NOW THE. REPUBLICANS, with rich man’s arms over our shoulders, have come to help us out to give us our own minority districts. The offer’s certainly , good. To have a Mexican-American or black in Congress, arguing for our needs and yelling when the tide may overrun us and warning us about what plans actually hold for . us, would certainly grant us sounder sleep even in poverty-stricken shacks and matted blankets on the floor. The least that we would feel is that we finally had a voice, that we could finally speak. Even the Democrats never offered that. But that arm on our shoulders is what bothers us for years it’s meant that there’s something else to come, that there’s some hidden meaning. That ‘ sleight of hand in politics is what bothers us where we are told to look is not where things will actually occur, the trick is elsewhere. The gift is the minority district with such a high percentage of minorities what we could only win, and there would be no loss, forever. But we should look around: the line that cuts us off from all the rest, that separates our district from the rest, would surely have other effects. And when we “look around us” we can see only an accumulation of conservative Anglos who for years opposed each step that we have made, but now are arguing for us. Even my friend, the black man at the railroad, would see the incongruity of it all. “Why that particular line?” he surely would have asked. “Why suddenly this favor from the people over there? Who is to benefit the most from this? And why are all these Anglos who opposed us in the past crowded together at our doorstep?” Surely we would have argued until sunset. “It is a gift,” I would have told him. “We can’t argue with gifts.” But he would have only smiled, his black face glistening with sweat. His thumping hammer would have echoed against railroad spikes until the evening came. SURELY there must be some way to appease my friend and me. There must be other ways for the Republicans to show the good intent of their arms over our shoulders. There must be other ways to show concern when someone really cares water with ice, a cold beer after work, a raise in pay. Republicans would certainly never argue against an act which gave us much of what we have today. Governor Clements, in new-found concern, would never object to the Voting Rights Act which put us here, enabling us to fight some of our battles and able to participate much more than we had ever had a chance to in the past. Water with ice it’s not much to ask for in reassurance. My friend would cer tainly be convinced Republican inten tions are good if such a move was made. TETXDB ERvER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1981 August 14, 1981 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. Editor and Publisher Ronnie Dugger Research Director in Washington, D.C. Katharine C. Fain EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, New York City; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; James PresBob Sherrill, Washington, D.C.; Fred Schmidt, Tehachapi, Ca.; Alfred J. Watkins, Austin. LAYOUT: Beth Epstein CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, John Henry Faulk, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Laurence Jolidon, Lyman Jones, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Kaye Northcott, Janie Paleschic, Laura Richardson, M. P. Rosenberg, Bob Sindermann, Jr., Paul Sweeney, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Grant Fehr, Bob Clare, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Ronald Cortes CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Berke Breathed, Jeff Danziger, Ben Sargent, Mary Margaret Wade, Gail Woods A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager Cliff Olofson Editorial and Business Office 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. years, $56. One year rate for full-time students, $13. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilmed by MCA, 1620 Hawkins Avenue, Box 10, Sanford, N.C. 27330. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. 2 AUGUST 14, 1981