Los Angeles County Racial/Ethnic Demographic Changes 1940—2000

Miroslava Flores, La Voz de Aztlan

Los Angeles County in Southern California has undergone startling demographic changes especially as it concerns the Latino population which is mostly of Mexican descent. The following seven maps show graphically how the racial/ethnic populations have changed from 1940 to 2000 according to the decennial censuses. The maps were prepared at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, the growth of the Mexican population in Los Angeles County has not been reflected in the degree of political influence attained by the community due to a number of factors. One of the major ones is the practice of “gerrymandering” which consists of the breaking up of Mexican-American voter strongholds. When political districts are created after each decennial census, the political power elites make sure that the Mexican-American voting blocks are splintered thus assuring that one of their own will win in that district.

Another major obstacle in achieving proportionate political representation for Mexicans in Los Angeles County has been right out tampering with elections results. This is especially true in elections for city councils in the various municipalities that comprise the county. One example is the City of Whittier where the Mexican-American population is now approaching 60% yet no candidate of Mexican descent has been able to oust any of the 5 White councilmembers. The situation concerning gerrymandering and tampering with ballot boxes has had a very adverse affect on the Mexican population in terms of the lack of political representation in city governments, the Los Angeles Unified School Board, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, in the US Congress and at the State capital.

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