It's the first day of classes at the University of Texas, and some students have already made it known once more that they disapprove of the "Eyes of Texas," the school's controversial alma mater.
There was plenty of liveliness at 'Gone to Texas,' the school's biggest back-to-classes event, as students and staff celebrated what was held entirely online last year. But around two dozen students went to protest the controversial alma mater, which has been accused of having a racist past, showing that contention over the song lingers into this school year.
As the Longhorn band performed a slew of songs, including the 'Eyes,' students chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, The Eyes of Texas has got to go" and bore a sign that read "Students and Workers Demand Cops off Campus."
Tonight Cops Off Campus stormed the stage of one of UT's biggest events in protest of the song the Eyes Of Texas. We are fighting back against the University spending MILLIONS on their racist traditions while their students are left to suffer. pic.twitter.com/dYYTllwJxl
— Cops Off Campus UT (@CopsOffCampusUT) August 25, 2021
The protest proves that last year's issues at the university are still unresolved after President Jay Hartzell ruled that the Longhorn Band would continue to play the alma mater despite allegations of racist origins. A UT investigation on the subject, which was conducted after many Longhorn athletes and band members refused to participate in the song, found that the song had "no clear racist intent" but likely debuted at a minstrel show where students were wearing blackface.
Among the protesters were members of Cops Off Campus UT, Underpaid at UT and UTexas Direct Action.
Activists told the Statesman that they attended the event because of its size and its target audience—incoming freshmen, who may not have heard of the song's storied past.
Students are chanting and holding a banner that say “Student Workers Demand Cops Off Campus.
The Longhorn Band is also playing right now over the chants. pic.twitter.com/NtlJa6tgTE
— Megan Menchaca (@meganmmenchaca) August 25, 2021
Protesters passed out a zine on the subject to incoming freshmen titled "Eyes Upon You: A Zine About the Troubled Past and Present of The University of Texas at Austin."
In the zine, Cops off Campus writes that "The University of Texas at Austin has been a place of political controversy and social turmoil from its very conception" as it addresses issues including the alma mater, COVID-19 protocols, working conditions for graduate students and sexual misconduct allegations.
Protestors were joined by dozens of incoming students by the end of the event, chanting phrases including "Cops off Campus" and "No justice, no peace."
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.