This piece explores the multiple Latina/o/x and Queer, social-cultural sanctuaries that exist within the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez borderplex. In so doing, the essay follows the author's move from the conservative Texas Panhandle to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they sought solace in a community in-between two cultures, two languages, and two nations. On the border, the author found a vibrant cultural hub for both Latina/o/x/s and the LGBTQ community. That is, the border is not simply a place at the peripheries of cultural worlds. It is a place of cultural making, including the making of a borderlands culture of sanctuary through which the author had the opportunity to see and explore their new home. Within that narrative, the essay surveys the social makeup along with the political and social history of Texas, the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. South, and these regions' various physical and cultural meeting points.
How does one respond to the history of a place that has eagerly consumed its violent pasts at the expense of Black life? This question became particularly relevant in April 2018 when the city of Sugar Land, Texas, unearthed the remains of ninety-five former convict laborers on the grounds of a former sugar plantation turned prison farm. "Eating Dirt, Searching Archives" speculatively plays with a history of Sugar Land that does not rely on the city's industrial legacies. Instead, this essay turns to dirt as the archive of Texas's invisible Black geographies. Dirt is theorized as a means of preserving Black Texas life and memory alongside the difficulty of Sugar Land's violent pasts.
Outside Waco, Texas, a staged train collision from 1896 known as the "Crash at Crush" illuminates how movement and speed formed an organizing principle and perceptual framework for everyday life in the modern New South. After the Civil War, Waco remained unscarred by battles and unphased by Reconstruction. On the promise of starting anew on antebellum terms, white southerners moved to Central Texas in mass migrations that set off a boom in the region's physical and economic development. Looking at directories, city guides, and newspapers, this article traces how white southerners sacralized movement as a racialized privilege that structured their perceptions of their natural, built, and social geographies.