Texas: A Crisis State or America on the Regular
I imagined that things in America had to be looking up in 2021. I steadily calculated the positives: vaccines for COVID-19, more economic assistance from Congress on the horizon, a new, sane President, and leaning into my groove of another year of working from home. I did not imagine that life in Sugar Land, Texas (a suburb of Houston) was hanging by a thread that would snap in the cold.
I was one of the 12 million Texans plagued with water quality issues and over 4 million Texans who did not have electricity or heat during one of the coldest winter storms in 50 years. Texans showed up for each other, taking to social media with hacks to keep warm in a freezing house and cook soup over a candle.
But the gruesome truth is that our state failed us. Over 22 people died in the cold last week, and those of us who couldn’t fly to Cancun faced impossible choices:
- Do you freeze in your home with no electricity or find a warming shelter that comes with the risk of getting COVID-19?
- How long can you help a neighbor fix the gushing water from an ice-exploded water pipe before you start to feel the effects of hypothermia?
- Do you risk driving on icy roads to a fifth grocery store or go without milk for your baby?
- How do you pay the $10,000+ electric bill when you were already counting the days until your next paycheck?
- When your daycare program closes for winter storm damage, how do you work and manage child care over the next few weeks?
My family and millions of Texans have had to wrestle with these questions because our country lacks a true economic safety net. As I reflect on some of our choices, I realize that the freak-of-nature winter storm didn’t break us. It brought national attention to an American foundation that was already filled with cracks and half-fixed potholes bigger than the ones on Westheimer road in Houston: housing insecurity, lack of adequate child care, underfunded communities of color, and the precipice of living paycheck to paycheck.
What we experienced in Texas was the status quo of millions of Americans who are just one storm away from disaster. But we have a cheat code to unlock a different future: the collective power of people. When directly impacted people organize, they build the power to transform this reality–to the benefit of us all. As part of Community Change, I am in the fight for housing justice, quality affordable child care, economic relief and a just recovery, and the work to hold elected leaders accountable if they choose Spring Break over public service.
Donor Communications and Marketing Manager