Rick Pearson, Chicago Times, May 2, 2011
A coalition of ethnic and religious groups today proposed a legislative redistricting map that would create 11 new state House and Senate districts in which a majority of the voting-age population are racial or ethnic minorities.
Currently, the state House has 32 so-called majority-minority districts and the Senate has 13 similar districts. The proposal from the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations would result in 38 majority-minority districts in the House and 18 in the Senate.
Chicago lost about 200,000 residents over the past decade, primarily in the African-American community. At the same time, the Latino population grew by 33 percent, primarily in the suburbs.
With tensions developing over whether Latinos would potentially gain legislative seats at the expense of African-American majority districts, more than 20 organizations representing Hispanic, black and Asian groups signed onto the coalition map. Despite African American population declines, the map would preserve the existing 18 House and eight Senate districts on Chicago’s West and South Sides that have a black majority population–and keep intact an African-American majority district in East St. Louis.
At the same time, the coalition proposal would create add another two House districts and a Senate district with majority Latino population on Chicago’s South Side and add a Hispanic-majority district in Aurora. In addition, the map proposes another nine new majority-minority state House districts and five Senate districts outside Chicago–in Franklin Park, Evanston, Waukegan, Rockford, the Elgin-Carpentersville corridor, Schaumburg, West Chicago and Romeoville.
“We stand here today with our Latino brothers and sisters to say, ‘You’re gain is not my loss–that the only way any of us will win is if we win together,'” said Rev. Robin Hood, pastor of Redeemed Outreach Ministries in North Lawndale and executive director of a group of West Side pastors.
C.W. Chen, chairman of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said the map creates three districts in which the Asian population constitutes at least 20 percent. Chen successfully worked for a new law aimed at keeping the Chinatown area from being split into several districts.
“As minority communities, we have a shared destiny, a shared interest and a shared experience,” Chen said. “Any equitable redistricting for one group should not have to be at the expense of another.”