Posted on August 1, 2011

California’s Redistricting Plan Creates, Empowers Segregation

Dan Walters, San Francisco Examiner, July 27, 2011


We Californians have been less willing to discuss a particularly sensitive aspect of that diversity–the emergence of what can only be called segregation.

Although the state long ago abolished legal segregation, we nevertheless tend to collect ourselves into enclaves, sometimes due to economic necessity but more often reflecting personal preferences to live among others with similar cultural, economic, linguistic, ethnic, generational or even political traits.

The geographic dividing lines among what are euphemistically called “communities” can be very stark, especially in densely populated urban areas, reaching an extreme level in the block-by-block turf wars of street gangs.


The state’s new redistricting commission fully embraced the “community of interest” concept and during countless hours of line-drawing, which reached a semifinal stage over last weekend, they bent over backward to accommodate demands from what its members called COIs.

To some extent, they had no choice. The federal Voting Rights Act, as interpreted by their legal adviser, required them to create a certain number of “majority minority” districts to maximize Latino political clout and to protect the interests of other ethnic groups. {snip}


The commission was created to stop politicians from drawing districts to benefit themselves and/or their parties, but in doing so, it gerrymandered another way. It gave official sanction to California’s evolution–or deterioration–from a coherent society with a core of common values into an incoherent collection of clans.