Welcome to Vidor, a town most famous for its racism

A welcome sign for my hometown that sits alongside I-10. (Michael Corcoran )

When folks ask me where I’m from, I have a stock answer: You’ve probably never heard of it and if you have, whatever you heard probably wasn’t good.

Vidor, Texas, is a little strip of fast food restaurants and gas stations that bisects Interstate 10 at the midway point on its journey from “sea to shining sea.” It’s a place where you stop to stretch your legs, void your bladder, and scarf down something greasy before moseying on to someplace better, like Biloxi.

With a population of about 11,000, Vidor is primarily famous for two things.

The first is country…


(Canva Pro)

In April, former Alabama police officer Jason McIntosh pleaded guilty to the 2019 murder of his estranged wife. To those who knew the couple, Megan Montgomery’s killing was tragic and shocking — but not surprising. In an interview following McIntosh’s hearing, her mother told reporters: “Megan began dying on July 23, 2017, on their first date. Like a frog in a pot of boiling water, you gradually turn up the heat to boiling and the frog doesn’t know they’re dying. That’s what happened to Megan.”

Far from unexpected, Montgomery’s death was the logical endpoint of a series of escalating domestic…


The uproar over the network’s decision to pull Mike Lindell’s ad is a sign that the center of US politics is still lurching right

MyPillow CEO and prominent pro-Trump figure Mike Lindell (Gage Skidmore / CC-BY-SA)

Conservatives are mad as hell at Fox News and they’re not going to take it anymore. Republicans are blasting the traditional bastion of rightwing media after it refused to air a commercial by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for an event promoting bogus claims of election fraud. In retaliation, Lindell pulled all of his company’s advertising on Fox, which will potentially cost them tens of millions in revenue. …


There’s a way to make communities safer and it doesn’t involve more cops

Seattle police deploy tear gas outside Cal Anderson Park during the uprising over the police murder of George Floyd last year (Derek Simeone / CC-BY)

Since I moved to Seattle in 2018, I’ve been randomly assaulted twice on the street. Both attacks happened in almost exactly the same place — just a block from where I live — about six months apart. In the first, a shirtless man who appeared to be experiencing some kind of amphetamine-induced psychosis busted my lip with a drawstring backpack after I didn’t give him any money. The second time this happened, a different man punched me in the face unprovoked for no apparent reason whatsoever. I fell on the pavement and suffered a large gash on my chin. …


Cops overwhelmingly backed Trump in the election and were well represented among the rioters on Jan. 6

A line of riot cops form a perimeter outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Tyler Merbler / CC-BY 2.0)

One year ago, police were gassing, beating, ramming with their cars, and otherwise brutalizing protesters participating in the largest civil rights demonstration in American history. Public opinion about policing hit the lowest point in decades. But today, it seems like folks are ready to start feeling good about the cops again. What changed? This week, officers from the Capitol police testified before congress about their experiences during the Jan. 6 riots. They told about the fear they felt as a MAGA hat-wearing mob stormed the building. A Black officer recounted being called racial slurs. Some of them even cried.

All…


U.S. Army Soldiers run to UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters after conducting a search for weapons caches in Albu Issa, Iraq, March 12, 2008 (US Army / Flickr)

You can take the yellow ribbon off that old oak tree, folks. The troops are coming home! Or at least that’s the impression created by the Biden Administration’s latest announcement. The United States recently inked an agreement with the government of Iraq to formally end “combat operations” in that country. The White House put out a press release calling it a “significant evolution” in the US mission.

But we’ve heard this song and dance before.

In 2003, George Bush too announced an end to “major combat operations” in Iraq. Dressed in a flight suit, he famously stood on an aircraft…


People in other countries are literally dying while waiting on vaccines. Americans have ready access and take it for granted.

(Justin Ward / CanvaPro)

My brother was teaching at an international school in Kazakhstan when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. His first daughter was born right as the lockdowns started. He and his family dutifully followed all the regulations. They stayed inside except for essential trips. When they did venture out, they put on masks like the medical experts recommended and national laws required. A year later, the country began giving out shots of a Russian-made vaccine, and my brother was excited to get one. …


Foreign intervention has always been the problem not the solution

Supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, outside the Port-au-Prince airport in 1994. (U.S. National Archives / Public domain)

In 1865, the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave a speech titled “What the Black Man Wants.” He raised a question that was asked often of abolitionists: “What shall we do with the Negro?” In response, he said, “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.” More than two decades later, Douglass took the same stance on Haiti, when he resigned his position as ambassador in protest. His brief tenure as a diplomat ended after he objected to an American embarrassing imperial misadventure there.

In…


Carmen Best, the first Black woman to lead the Seattle Police Department, explains her resignation in August 2020. (South Seattle Emerald)

Vice just released a piece titled “Do Black Women Have to Save the Police, Too?” This story is accompanied by a sobering juxtaposition. On the sidebar of the page, there are links to more articles. The headlines describe a litany of horrors committed by the police against Black people: “A Black Man Died by Suicide in Police Custody. Cops Mocked Him,” “Cops Beat Black Man With Handcuffs Like ‘Brass Knuckles’ and Pulled Down His Pants” and “Black Woman Was Pinned Down and Stripped Naked While Male Officers Watched.”

Can Black women really “save” this?

The article quotes a Black woman…


Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special legislative session in early July. One of the topics included on the agenda was “critical race theory,” which is addressed in a bill recently passed by the state Senate. With Democrats preventing quorum in the House, it’s not likely to pass before the end of the special session in August (World Travel & Tourism Council / CC-BY 2.0 Generic)

Though I’m not usually in the habit of giving advice to my political enemies, here’s a tip for Texas Republicans: When your opponents say that your ginned-up nonsense about Critical Race Theory is just cover for attacking anti-racism education in schools, don’t do the exact thing you’re being accused of. The GOP-dominated state Senate just voted on a bill stripping away curriculum requirements, including a clause that requires educators to teach the history of white supremacy and “ways in which it is morally wrong.”

Frankly, this is an extremely low bar to cross. The original bill passed in the House

Justin Ward

Journalist and activist. Founder and co-chair of DivestSPD. Bylines at SPLC, The Baffler, GEN, USA Today. Follow on Twitter: @justwardoctrine, @DivestSPD

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