Harlem Faces a Historic Shift

Devlin Barrett, Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2012

For seven decades, two African-American politicians—first Adam Clayton Powell Jr., then Charles Rangel—have represented Harlem in Congress, symbolizing the New York City neighborhood’s status as the de facto capital of black America.

Now, redistricting under way by the state legislature combined with a fast-rising Hispanic population are threatening to overturn that history. There are more Hispanics than blacks in Mr. Rangel’s district, raising the prospect that Harlem’s roughly 200,000 African-Americans will lose their dominant role in choosing the district’s member of Congress.

Similar issues are emerging in several areas around the country, including Southern California, where the growing Hispanic population poses a challenge to three black-held seats.

“It’s definitely becoming harder across the country to create as many majority African-American districts as were created in the 1990s and 2000s, and if you really can’t create a majority African-American district based on Harlem anymore, that’s pretty dramatic,” said Richard Pildes, a New York University professor whose writing on district lines has been cited by the Supreme Court.

Sharpening the reversal of fortunes is the role of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Originally designed to end antiblack discrimination at the polls, the law now could help Hispanics gain control of the Harlem seat. That’s because the law protects minority groups’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.

The 81-year-old Mr. Rangel has represented Harlem since 1971 and, thanks to the power of incumbency, is given a good shot of winning in 2012 even after he was censured by Congress for ethics violations. The redistricting is more likely to affect elections after Mr. Rangel retires.


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Herman

    I guess Hispanics in Harlem are the lesser of two evils.

    • Anonymous

      Well, it’s the FAR lesser of two evils.  Leaving aside the political issues for a moment – the fact that Hispanics are as easily hoodwinked as whites are by their politicians – the fact remains that Hispanics have an actual culture they came from.  This cannot be overlooked.  These people built ancient cities and cathedrals.  What did, I’m sorry to say, the blacks build other than grass huts?  There is a difference between a jungle culture and a culture that was strongly influenced by benign European forces (despite the anti-Spanish propaganda to the contrary).

  • Sincerely Concerned

    It bothers me that it can be said that majority African-American (or any minority OR majority) districts can be “created”.  Sure, it’s a fact, but it’s not exactly color-blind and we can’t get anywhere toward healing this country unless we stop dwelling on levelling the playing field.  Trillions of dollars have been wasted and yet minorities are no better off, especially according to them.  Money is one thing but messing with voting is another. 

    Assuming that a minority will elect only another minority or at least a person that will only hold their best interests at hand is pandering.  But, I digress.  It’s proven they do just that and isn’t that really why districts are drawn the way they are?  All of that said, I’d just as soon see Rangel GONE.  He’s a race-monger supreme.  It’s just that it’s likely he will simply be replaced with someone exactly like him.

    • OTOH, gerrymandered black districts usually result in better representation in the surrounding white district.  Now, this being New York City, that won’t be the case in that particular location.

    • Every other Congressman that was censured by his colleagues, wound up resigning, except Rangel. He has no shame or humility, whatsoever.

  • Bill

    I believe that Rep Rangel was born in Panama and that his first name is/was Carlos so that he might find it easier to get re-elected.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, the irony…
     That which is historically black must remain black. That which is historically white must be destroyed. sbn


  • Anonymous

    It’s sounds rough and it is rough. But we have to aggressively push to have Black political seats switch over to Hispanic seats.

    Blacks will never work for immigration control until they see it taking away their political power – their places.

    Yeah – that would be great when Harlem is no longer Black.

  • Dom

    You can’t push for anything. You are not in a position for this. And you don’t have to. This is way much better. Not interfering. Let them fight each other. But stupidity of black leaders escapes me. Are they so deluded that they think that adding “persons of color” helps them and harm only whites? Black are in the first line. Hispanics go into their neighborhoods, invade their part of city, compete for the same jobs, lower their wages or take their jobs and so on. From perspective of blacks they should be fighting against immigration as hard as they can. This will open ther eyes. What stupid phrase “person of color”. Like they are all one big happy family. Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans are all people of color and yet hate blacks more than whites do.  Democrat aliance looks quite extraordinary, white liberals with black, brown or yellow minorites all fighting to get as much as possible for their own. No, you wont have any problems.

    • Dom, how can this be? Isn’t this supposed to be the beauty, splendor and majesty of multiculturalism? That’s what the white Trotskyites keep saying, over and over.

      Maybe we should all join hands and sing “Kumbaya” in Tagalog or Creole. Think that’ll work?

  • No mention of our open border policy with mexico and refusal to enforce immigration law as a possible cause I see. Blacks would rather go down with the ship than align with White America to protest illegal immigration and the absolute devastation this invasion is having on this country, specifically their race. Blacks foolishly believe an alliance with hispanics will reserve a spot at the table for them once reconquista is satisfied.
    How wrong they are.

    • Carol692

      You are absolutely correct. As a matter of fact once Hispanics are the majority they’ll ignore blacks and whites and fight for their own. Black Americans are old fashioned, and have old fashioned ideas. They still think that “anyone of color in the US is on their side.” They need to grow intellectually and realize that if anyone has been on their side, even though it has been difficult are the Whites, but many don’t want to admit it…

    • Anonymous

      Quite so!  Most Hispanics I know of have a far lower opinion of Blacks than most any White person in America today. In fact, many legitimately do HATE Blacks, and without a hint of reservation of guilt, I might add!  In the intersest of sticking it to mean ‘ol Whitey, Blacks have undermined their own cause rather flamboyantly by supporting the brown invasion and all it entails!  

      • Anonymous

        At work, I was privy to a conversation between two black men who were discussing their experiences on the Hispanic west-side of Buffalo.

         They described how they were called names and threatened. One of them speaks Spanish so he had special insight into what Hispanics said about blacks when they spoke Spanish.

        A black woman at work also talked about her attraction to a Dominican in her neighborhood but he wanted noting to do with her. She said, ‘I don’t know why but Dominicans don’t want anything to do with blacks’.

        While black and Hispanic leaders talk about the mythical black-brown coalition, Hispanics on the front line are none too keen about blacks. 

  • Anonymous

    No need to fret. We’ve all been to college, and thus know that “people of color” tend to get along. Fill Harlem with Hispanics and it won’t affect anything. Just ensure that Bill Clinton remains the only caucasian in Harlem and you will have peace in the valley.

    • People of color don’t get along. AMREN has had lots of stories of the ethnic cleansing of Blacks in LA by Hispanics. There have been stories of riots in the LA jail and segregation of prisoner there by race.  There is Liberty City riots.  And most Hispanic come from a very racist country, Mexico.

      • Anonymous

        Sarcasm apparently doesn’t translate too well when written

        From: Disqus
        To: [email protected]
        Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 3:34 AM
        Subject: [americanrenaissance] Re: Harlem Faces a Historic Shift

        Disqus generic email template

        Southern Hoosier wrote, in response to Hirschibold:
        People of color don’t get along. AMREN has had lots of stories of the ethnic cleansing of Blacks in LA by Hispanics. There have been stories of riots in the LA jail and segregation of prisoner there by race.  There is Liberty City riots.  And most Hispanic come from a very racist country, Mexico. Link to comment

  • It’s not the color, it’s the culture. 

  • Ss

    Sadly, the Blacks will fail to see the irony let alone the lesson.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    There are more Hispanics than blacks in Mr. Rangel’s district

    Well, Mr. Rangel, what did you expect?  While you were busy looking for White racists, wearing flashy large gold cufflinks on your flashy shirts, evading taxes and fighting corruption charges that should have expelled you from The House of Representatives, Hispanics were replacing blacks in your district.

     You have a lifetime rating of F- from numbers USA which means you have spent your political life promoting and advocating for open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic.

    Your record includes:

    Voting against an amendment to end the visa lottery and to continue chain migration. Voting for the 2010 Dream/Amnesty Act. 

    Last year, as in 2009,  you cosponsored bills to reward illegal aliens with amnesty.  You also cosponsored bills to repeal the Real ID Act.

    You have no one to blame but yourself for your and blacks’ coming loss of political power — but then, as always, you’ll blame racist White Republicans.

    Cry me a river, the East River!!


  • What difference does it make? The Hispanic still vote Democrat. Charlie will soon be replaced by Gonzales and Gonzales will be another racist Democrat. The color may be a little lighter, but the politics are still the same.

  • NAVY

    The corporations ultimate goal is to replace traditional America using illegal immigration.
    Within this blueprint blacks will be the first to be relegated to diminutive status as a minority within a Spanish speaking majority.

  • hhhh

  • Anonymous

    Before blacks took over, Harlem was white.