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Out for Change: An Educator’s Perspective

Namrata “Nam” Subramanian wants to address the issues facing Texas House District 147.

Namrata Subramanian (courtesy photo)

Namrata “Nam” Subramanian is a high-school math teacher running in the Democratic primary for Texas House District 147, the seat that’s being vacated by retiring Senator Garnet Coleman. An Indian American, she has a BA in both economics and public health from the University of California at Berkeley, and she’s working on a master’s degree in education studies from Johns Hopkins University. She began teaching during the pandemic, and that’s colored her desire to seek public office.

“Even though I am a high-school math teacher,” says Subramanian, “I tie social justice into my curriculum wherever I can. It was during a civics lesson when one of my students asked me, ‘Hey Ms. Nam, have you ever thought about running for office before?’ I felt a sense of urgency about the issues that my and my students’ generations faced, and realized that now was the time for a young and progressive queer woman of color to run for office. The issues we care about have existed for decades, but what is needed in politics right now, especially in Texas, is new perspectives to confront the state’s toughest challenges.”

Subramanian, who identifies as bisexual, is one of three queer women of color running for the seat in the crowded Democratic primary. She is quick to distinguish herself from the other District 147 candidates. 

“This is not a last-minute decision or a career move for me,” she says. “I had prepared to run against the incumbent [even before] he announced his retirement—a week after I filed. It is clear, if you look at my website, that I have put a lot of time and energy into what I want to accomplish and advocate for if elected. I bring a fresh perspective to the table. As a 23-year-old active teacher (not a career politician) running a grassroots campaign, I represent the people, not the corporations of Houston. I believe that a public servant is exactly that—someone who serves. I intend on showing up for the community, as I have shown during my campaign. I am running to represent the many voices of the district since District 147 is extremely diverse, with Latinos representing the largest demographic at 38 percent. If elected, I intend to stay on the ground, hear from community leaders and experts, and be a voice for District 147 in Austin. I am not just a representative of the community, but a member of it as well. As a queer woman of color and an educator working with students from various backgrounds, I have seen firsthand how issues like the ERCOT electricity grid failure and the school-to-prison pipeline have affected District 147. I am a viable candidate who has fundraised over $30,000, and I have a clear path to victory that includes being as present as possible in all of District 147’s neighborhoods.”

Her issues include economic, educational, and environmental justice, as well as advocating for the LGBTQ community by supporting bills that will advance her neighbors and her community (such as HB 191, the Texas Fair Housing Act, and HB 2024) and opposing bills that harm the community (such as SB 2  and SB 32). She supports a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, because those elements have historically been used as grounds for mistreating LGBTQ individuals. 

In her personal life, Subramanian is very physically active.

“I am a powerlifter, and my hour in the weight room every day is what keeps me sane!” she says. “When the sun is shining, my friends and I love to have picnics at Buffalo Bayou and Hermann Park. I am vegetarian, so I love eating at vegan restaurants like Korny Vibes and Green Seed Vegan. I also attend as many of my students’ activities as I can to show support for them outside the classroom—from football games to track meets.”

For more about the candidate, see namfortexas.com.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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