RACISM AT THE HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO?

SHOULD THERE BE MORE DIVERSITY AT THE RODEO OR IS TRADITION JUST TRADITION?

The Hispanic and African American communities are protesting the lack of diversity within the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. A press conference is scheduled for Friday, February 27, at 10:30 a.m. at the Harris County Administration Building located at 1001 Preston. Everyone is welcome to support the cause.

A protest at Reliant Stadium is scheduled for Friday, March 13, at 5:00 pm. The performer for that evening will be Clint Black.

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo was established in 1931 and has used government facilities since 1938. Millions of tax dollars have been used to create venues and provide year-round office space for the rodeo. For this reason, leaders from both communities feel the rodeo should be inclusive of all communities.

At the press conference, the following issues will be addressed:

1. Board Members

There are 320 board members at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, of which 233 are voting board members and only 7 are minorities. The process of becoming a board member is dependent on being a big donor, serving on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Committee for decades, or being recommended by the executive board members. There are many minorities that have volunteered for the rodeo for decades, yet they have never been recommended to serve as board members.

2. Board Executives

There are 42 executives on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo board, which includes 17 vice-presidents. Of the 42, there is only one minority. By the way, the rodeo will consistently show him in the press to show they are diverse. Why don’t they show the other 41 executives on television?

3. Full-Time Employees

There are 90+ full-time employees at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. There are only 7 minorities, which are groundskeepers and other low level employees. The rodeo executives have consistently hid the salaries of employees for their own benefit. They do not wish to show anyone their hefty 6-figure salaries. The rodeo is a non-profit organization using government property. There should be no reason to hide these facts.

4. Scholarships

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo will bring in approximately $120 million in 2009 and yet it only has committed to award $11 million in scholarships, which amounts to 9% of the total funds collected. An organization that claims to be all about scholarships is really a money-making machine for those in leadership positions.

5. Concerts

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has 20 concerts per year. One day is dedicated to Hispanics and one day is dedicated to African-Americans. Are we to celebrate this?

6. Contracts

This year approximately $50 million will be awarded in contracts by the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Has anyone seen a Request for Proposals distributed to the community? I didn’t think so. There is no process in place to ensure minority contractors and vendors have a fair opportunity to bid on any of the contracts associated with the rodeo. It is the good ole boy network at its best.

7. Pay Parity

The average attendance for the concerts at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is 55,000 a concert. Go Tejano Day (now called Hispanic Heritage Day) averages almost 70,000. Go Tejano Day has consistently broken attendance records throughout the years and yet the artist performing on that day have consistently been paid much less than their counterparts. The average pay for a performer for each performance is between $750,000 and $1,000,000. Little Joe, a Tejano music legend, was paid $40,000 for a concert.

8. Open Records

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has consistently avoided being transparent to the citizens of Harris County. Basic information has been requested year after year and every time we are given excuses. What is there to hide?

9. Selection of Artists

The selection of entertainers is done by Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo executives with no input from the Go Tejano Committee or the Black Heritage Committee. I guess this executive committee knows it all.