Posted by Tanu Henry | California Black Media

The African American leaders in California are closely monitoring the commission that produces the voting cards for conventions, state senates, state assemblies, and equality bodies. You are concerned about the outcome of the redistribution process.

On November 10, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission published the first draft cards of the newly drawn lines for the constituencies of the state. According to state law, the final versions of the new political districts must be ready by December 27th.

But proponents like James Woodson, the political director of the California Black Census and Redistricting Hub (CBCRH), are calling on the commission to pause and re-evaluate the maps it has drawn up so far.

The CBCRH, also “the black hub “ is a nationwide coalition focused on “racial justice” and “fairness” in the redistribution process.

“The Black Hub values ​​the hard work of the commission and their early release of the maps for public opinion. At the same time, the Black Hub is deeply concerned that the process of developing the cards was rushed, inconsistent and incomplete, ”said Woodson. “It has resulted in maps that have ignored the interests of many black communities and millions of residents in the most populous areas of the state.”

For example, draft maps released by the commission last month have the only two congressional districts in Los Angeles County represented by black US Congressmen Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) and Karen Bass (D-CA-37), amalgamated into one district. After advocates and activists complained about the loss of political power for African Americans, the commission split the single district it proposed back into two constituencies.

However, with California losing a seat in the US Congress due to a general population decline in the state, proponents fear, according to the 2020 US census figures, that this will create a ripple effect that will change the racial and political make-up of the counties in the US State.

Black Hub leaders and other advocates in the state are calling on black Californians to speak up and contribute to ensuring their communities do not lose representation or resources.

“It’s not just about losing political power. It’s also about losing assets, ”said Kellie Todd Griffin, a resident of Carson City, Los Angeles, where black people make up more than 25% of the city’s total population. Los Angeles County, where California is expected to lose a seat in Congress, is home to about 40% of the state’s African Americans.

Organizer and entrepreneur Griffin is known in California political circles for her outspoken advocacy for black Californians. She says with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles there will be a lot of development and revenue growth for Carson for government and business. She fears that redrawn political districts could economically harm her city and others nearby.

“If you look at the maps, you can see that our Carson Convention District is more connected to Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes, rather than being connected to cities like Long Beach and Compton and places like that,” Griffin said. “It is also believed that blacks and other minorities in the region will vote equally on issues. As we know, this is not always true. We have specific problems that affect us blacks differently. So we vote differently on them – on some criminal law reforms to the Crown Act. “

One of the realities driving concerns among leaders is the possibility that black voices will be watered down in five different regions of California.

“Rather than sticking to the priorities of the BIPOC communities, we are concerned that some commissioners, in an effort to prioritize all votes, have mistakenly and unknowingly raised votes from less diverse, affluent communities at the expense of the BIPOC communities . “Said Woodson.

According to the CBCRH, black political power in Los Angeles County, San Diego County, the Central Valley, the Bay Area, and the Inland Empire will be diluted as the proposed maps cut and subdivide districts where African Americans live. To address the problem, they have presented proposed cards to the Redistribution Commission that will protect black political power and representation.

Another important concern is the compressed timetable the Commission is working on, which limits the time for citizens to influence the process of drawing the line. This year, the census data on which the Map Redraw Commission relies has been delayed due to pandemic delays at the federal level. Instead of the usual March publication, the US Census Bureau did not publish this information until September 21st.

“The Black Hub is deeply concerned that the process of developing the cards was rushed, inconsistent and incomplete. It has resulted in maps that have ignored the interests of many black communities and millions of residents in the state’s most densely populated areas, ”said a statement released by CBCRH last week.

Every 10 years, according to the US census, California appoints a new redistribution commission. Its job is to map or redraw the state’s voting lines based on population shifts in the state’s population over the decade between censuses.

According to the 2020 census figures, California’s black population has decreased from about 2.5 million to nearly 2.2 million in the past decade. However, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Californians who identify as more than one race – from 4.9% in 2010 to 14.6% in 2020.

In 2008, California voters approved the Citizens Redistricting Commission through a constitutional amendment called The Voters First Act or Proposition 11. It gave citizens the job of drawing voting cards. The policy was created to avoid the political influence of government officials or interest groups on the redistribution process.

Before Prop 11 was passed, the state legislature was responsible for setting its own constituencies. The committee has five Democrats, five Republicans and four members who do not belong to any political party.

When redrawing maps, the number of voters must be the same in all counties in the country. That’s around 761,000 people in each convention district. For all state Senate districts, that number is 988,000 and 494,000 people in the assembly districts.

In California, blacks make up just over 5% of the state’s approximately 40 million residents. There are 52 congressional districts; 80 assembly districts; and 40 senate districts. There are four districts for the State Board of Equalization, which is responsible for representing taxpayers’ interests and “balancing” county tax assessments throughout California.

The Commission has to fulfill a number of constitutional mandates, including the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, according to which all minority groups must be able to elect a representative of their choice; a district must be whole or contiguous (geographically connected); under different rules.

From November 17th there is a Series of meetings in which the public can contribute to the commissioners. Another round of card drawing sessions will begin on November 30th.

“We need to raise our voices and make sure we’ve said something. That we don’t just sit around and let these lines be redrawn without fighting for our interests. We have to define what community means to us, ”said Griffin. “We need to make sure we provide written comments and let people know what works for us and what doesn’t.”

To make a public comment to the Commission, send an email [email protected] or complete the Community feedback form.

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