Skip to comments.Rodeo Rejects Mediation Request Over Minorities (Houston)
Posted on 05/27/2008 5:30:54 AM PDT by BnBlFlag
By BILL MURPHY
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Comments (304) Yahoo! Buzz The Houston rodeo has rejected a U.S. Justice Department offer to mediate disputes with minority groups who say it needs more minorities in high-ranking positions, doesn't give scholarships to noncitizens in the country legally and has stopped featuring Tejano performers on its main stages.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo does not believe mediation is needed because it promotes diversity and does not engage in discrimination, said chief operating officer Leroy Shafer.
"At this point, we see no need to have a Justice Department mediator involved in this," he said. "We've heard (the minority groups') issues. We think they are all pointless."
Johnny Mata is spokesman for a group that has sought mediation, the Houston chapter of American GI Forum, a nonprofit that addresses Hispanic veterans' needs. Mata said he was disappointed in the rodeo's position.
"I am a firm believer in coming to the table and airing out our differences," said Mata, former director of the local chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens. "It's a sad day for the relationship between the people of color and the rodeo. I hope they reconsider."
The Justice Department's division of community relations service agreed to ask the rodeo whether it would enter mediation at the request of a number of politicians and groups, including state Sen. Mario Gallegos and the local chapters of LULAC and American GI Forum.
Boycott was urged The officials and groups sought mediation after some of them protested the rodeo's decision not to include Tejano groups on main venues at this year's show. The groups also urged Hispanics to boycott the rodeo.
Justo Garcia, a conciliation specialist in the division that has been working to settle minority-related disputes since 1964, said he met with rodeo officials about a month ago and would be meeting with minority leaders again.
The Justice Department has not launched an investigation of the rodeo, but is merely seeking to mediate the dispute.
If the rodeo and minority groups agreed, a nonbinding memorandum of understanding could be reached through mediation. It would lay out goals that the rodeo would try to attain.
Francisco Rodriguez III, director of the local LULAC chapter, said, "We are concerned that it's a good ol' boy system. We'd like to see some other people besides Anglos administer the program. We understand they originated the rodeo. But times change. It's not an exclusive club anymore."
The rodeo's 16-member executive committee has no women or minorities, Shafer said.
Of the 17 committees that control many aspects of the rodeo, 14 are headed by Anglo men.
A woman, a Hispanic man and an African-American man head the other three, Shafer said.
Of the 324 voting members of the rodeo board, 34 are women.
Shafer said he doesn't know how many minorities serve on the board because the rodeo doesn't track members' ethnicities.
The rodeo, he said, successfully has boosted the number of minorities who serve as volunteers during the past 25 years.
But volunteers are promoted in part based on years of service and donations, he said. Executive committee members have put in 37 years of volunteering, on average, he said.
Many minorities and women, meanwhile, are rising through the ranks, he said.
"It would not be fair to people out here to have a quota system," he said. "It's just like you don't go to work for Exxon and say you want to be the president the next day. You've got to work your way up there."
Got a late start
Mata said minorities can't match Anglos' length of service because they didn't feel welcome at the rodeo years ago, and the rodeo should develop a process that would infuse more minorities into higher ranking posts.
Shafer defended the rodeo's practice of excluding noncitizens in the country legally from scholarship awards, a policy set by the executive committee. The rodeo, he said, receives a glut of scholarship applications.
"We want our scholarships going to people who are citizens of the U.S.," he said.
Rodriguez said he wishes the rodeo was open to discussing whether scholarships should be granted to children of legal immigrants who do well in school and need help going to college, especially if the students intend to become citizens.
Shafer said a high percentage of rodeo scholarships go to minorities. Nearly a third of the 927 students who attended Texas universities on show scholarships last year were Hispanic, show organizers said.
Mata said Tejano performers didn't perform on the main venues at this year's rodeo.
"When you are deprived of other people's cultures, you are locked in a vacuum," he said.
Shafer said the rodeo stopped featuring Tejano music on main stages because "Tejano music is not selling. Everybody knows that except the Tejano artists producing it and a few activists."
Most recommended comments 2boldlygo wrote: UTgrad wrote:
"They have as much right as you to express themselves however they want whether you agree or not. We are in America after all, the land of the free, right?"
No one is stopping them from starting their OWN rodeo. But they should not have the right to come in and take over the product of someone else's hard work and demand special treatment just because of the color of their skin. 5/22/2008 1:26:12 AM Recommend (278) Report abuse
healthyLife wrote: "... doesn't give scholarships to noncitizens in the country legally..."
Really? Someone's complaining about this? Consider it one of the 'perks' of being a citizen that you get to enjoy some exclusive benefits of our society. 5/22/2008 1:51:21 AM Recommend (235) Report abuse
texan59 wrote: According to the rodeo reps, tejano artists were not booked due to lagging sales. The rodeo is a business and determined what musical artists would bring in the most fans. That was a business decision. After seeing the lack of support for the called boycott, it looked like the rodeo reps were correct in their assessment. 5/22/2008 12:59:40 AM Recommend (206) Report abuse
houcop6545 wrote: I agree with 2boldlygo...If you don't like how the rodeo is done; then either start your own rodeo organization or shut up and go to the H.L.S.R. The rodeo is a non-profit business. The members do this at their own time and expense. The rodeo should not have to explain what they do or how they do it. If somebody does not like how the rodeo do business...then don't deal with them. 5/22/2008 2:28:13 AM Recommend (188) Report abuse
hbualum wrote: It amazes me that minorities have so many coalitions and groups that focus on the advancement and education of their people; that they still want more. If we had the United Caucasian College Fund it would be considered racist. When are we going to lay down the burden of slavery? My family was in Ireland then, I fell no guilt! Illegals and the rest, go out and start your own rodeo. 5/22/2008 4:47:42 AM Recommend (137) Report abuse
Read all comments (304)
This will be coming to NASCAR as well.
This story illustrates a Federal Government that has too much money, too much power, and too much time on their hands.
The Feds know of no problems here, nothing to violate any laws or regulations. But they have a person willing to come in to “mediate” the dispute anyway, and this person has already been talking with both side.
If we have a federal employee mediator who is sitting around doing nothing, we should fire them, not allow them to run around looking to drum up business for the feds.
Thank goodness the Rodeo didn’t fall into the trap of inviting the government in.
The NAACP objected to the name of the play (10 little Indians) because it had racial origins.
Originally the school cancelled the play. Then they changed their minds and renamed the play and went on with the show.
The NAACP still cried foul and screamed and whined that all administrators and teachers in the district should have diversity training. Guess who wanted to supply the diversity training through a company he owns and operates? You guessed it. The head of the local NAACP.
The district told him to go pound sand.
If they are forced to put Tejano on their main stages, can reggae be far behind? Or rap, hiphop, big band, freeform jazz?
If it’s market forces, then they lose money on Tejano.
The Rodeo should ask DOJ when they’re going after the Houston Rockets for a lack of white players.
Or at least more country music should be played at Rockets games.
“Good ‘ol boy’s system”
Translation: Too many white men in one place.
The hate-whitey groups even have the rodeo on the run now...hah! Amazing!
You’re white people! You are no longer entitled to your culture. Pucker-up an pay-up! Kiss that PC butt!
Slavery is our legacy. Get used to it. Get your white children ready to pay while your at it.
What, affirmative action in a sport as dangerous as the rodeo?? What are these people smoking?? And who the hell are THEY to dictate to whom a nonprofit organization grants scholarships??
The Distrct told them to go pound sand.
As well they should have!
1 Little Indians? The Agatha Christie story? Um...is there some reason the school wasn’t harassed by a few tribal councils? I mean...the NAACP are afrocentric, so they should stick to African American issues. If Native Americans weren’t offended, even changing the name of the play wasn’t a good idea.
I lost interest in the “rodeo” years ago when they switched to a concert format with rodeo events included. They’ve given in to all kinds of pressure to be “inclusive” but will never satisfy everyone.
People work hard for no pay to make the rodeo and all those scholarships possible. They don’t give scholarships to just anyone. Why should they? It is their money. Tell LULAC to build their own empire and give it to whoever they chose.
The decision making structure is necessary to ensure the integrity of the whole thing. Leaders grow into positions, not placed into roles. This is why it works so well.
I’m so tired of whiners
They’re obviously only capable of the Je$$e Jack$on school of empire: harass ‘em until they give you money to go away.
These Rodeo Board people have their heads on straight and they talk straight.
Why should a good Rodeo be ruined by some ridiculous people who are here illegally.
We don’t want your culture in our country. Keep it in your country.
“I’m so tired of whiners”.
Ain’t that the truth!