Leave it to a blackout to shine a big, bright spotlight on the problems lying deep in the heart of Texas.

I grew up in a suburb south of Dallas, and even though my parents were immigrants from West Africa, I was conditioned to believe in Texan exceptionalism. In high school debate, the question of whether the Lone Star State should secede from the union was a yearly issue. I argued absolutely yes. “We are fine on our own! We have our own power grid!”

Well, I was wrong.

This week, wrapped in multiple blankets and layers, I could only laugh at my past faith in Texas’s supposedly mighty grid. A winter storm might have been the precipitating event that left millions of Texans struggling without power in record-low temperatures. But what really has brought my home state to its knees is a chilling mix of unfettered deregulation, partisan gaslighting and leadership failure.