PCA Governing Board Statement

PCA Governing Board Statement on Holding the 2023 Conference in San Antonio, TX


With what is happening in Texas right now and its ban on abortions, the anti-LGBTQ legislation and anti-trans policies, the restrictions on people teaching race, as well as Senate Bill 1 which is imposing more voting restrictions, it is hard for many of us to look to Texas as a place we want to visit and support financially.   As our president’s letter suggests, we heard from several PCA members that they are concerned about their own safety as people of color or LGBTQ individuals.  Many of these concerns were also expressed in our recent survey.  On behalf of the board, we want to assure you that we have heard the concerns from our members, and we take them very seriously.    


The PCA signed a contract with the Marriott in 2011, and despite the best efforts of our Executive Director and Conference Direct, it is not a contract we can get out of without severe economic penalties.  This means that the hotel will receive the money whether the PCA holds its conference there or not; per a similar statement from the Western History Association: “that money will stay in corporate Texas, continuing to enrich the state, even as local businesses and organizations will be deprived of revenue from conference-goers, low-wage workers will lose hours and tips, and San Antonio will not feel the presence of a progressive organization” whose members study a wide range of popular culture and whose participants “overwhelmingly support the interests of women, people of color, immigrants, working people, and LGBTQ people” (WHA). 


Equally important, we have decided as an organization that there are also excellent reasons for us to deliberately and purposely embrace San Antonio as our first face to face conference venue in four years, and we hope you will agree with our rationale, which we are quoting from the Western History Association: “We do not think that moving the 2022 conference outside of Texas will promote the interests of those who remain most vulnerable to the sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, homophobic, and transphobic impulses that inform such measures. San Antonio is a majority minority city. Almost two-thirds of its residents identify as Latinx, and there are sizable African American, Asian American, Indigenous, and mixed-race populations there as well. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ people own small businesses near the conference site, and many more work in the corporate hotel and restaurant industry that flourishes in the Riverwalk area. We hope that the presence of up to [two] thousand conference-goers will bring some benefit to these communities, and, as we suggest below, we’re actively seeking ways to engage with them in order to learn how we can best support their efforts to shape their own lives and the world around them.”  LIke the WHA, the PCA is planning to highlight the communities of color in San Antonio, and offer tours that will feature women and people of color as participants, as well as speakers.  


We have organized a conference committee that includes several volunteer PCA members who are working with us to plan a safe conference, as well as one that partners with marginalized and oppressed groups in San Antonio.  The PCA can serve as a safe haven for marginalized identities and perspectives, and will work to ensure that we meet the needs of our diverse membership.  We further recognize that there are members within the PCA who live and work in the state of Texas, and will ensure they are part of the conversation. Several members from Texas are on the planning committee, and we welcome suggestions from our members.


We are prepared to work with the hotel to try and make the conference venue as safe as possible; you can expect to see increased security measures such as checking badges at each and every session, for example.  We are partnering with organizations in San Antonio to help us understand where areas may be unsafe as well as generating a list of friendly places and spaces. There will be many other initiatives implemented as well.


We recognize that travel funding is an issue for many, and that further restrictions have been enacted in states such as California.  The PCA is committed to finding ways to assist those affected, and will work to help those interested in attending to be able to do so.


(Elements adapted from the Western History Association San Antonio Statement https://www.westernhistory.org/2022/San%20Antonio)