New American Media, July 9, 2011
The Fourth of July holiday weekend, when Americans were taking the time to celebrate democracy, the California Redistricting Commission (CRC) was considering a move that would cripple African American political power.
“The CRC’s process as they develop the next round of maps would divide South Los Angeles, dissolving years of hard-won African-American voting power and multi-racial unity,” said Marqueece Harris-Dawson, of the African-American Redistricting Collaborative (AARC).
It would effectively and completely cut out a long-time African-American stronghold of political power–eviscerating the African American population in the 33rd Congressional District, a seat currently held by Congresswoman Karen Bass and previously, the Hon. Diane Watson, and the late Congressman Julian Dixon.
The AARC worked with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to produce and submit a set of “Unity Maps” to the CRC. The “Unity Maps” reached a compromise that appeased African American, Asian American and Latino citizen groups when it came to district lines.
The CRC’s visualization instead, divides South L.A., pitting African-American interests against Latino interests. The CRC should not continue on this course. Especially if it is predicated on undisclosed reports and data.
Despite the commission’s best intentions, as represented in its first mapping proposals, African Americans appear to come up short, are neutered politically in their strongest areas and are faced with the reality that such plans are not invested in thriving Black Los Angeles.
If people of good will, including Blacks, do not respond to this threat to “our” collective political power, then “we” cannot complain or rush to sue when the final maps leave Blacks divided, attached to unfriendly neighbors and without leadership that will respond to “our” concerns.