Blacks in California have just won a major political victory by preserving the congressional districts that give voice to African-American communities in the state. The existence of districts that reflect the reality of black areas is what enables them to choose representatives that serve each district’s best interests. In a recent battle during a major redistricting process, members of the media and GOP in California attempted to dilute black political power in the state by redrawing political maps to divide black communities and annex them to other districts. Claims were made that these steps were necessary due to changes in populations, but black leaders in the areas in question knew the real motivation at work: the desire of the GOP to reduce the numbers of African-Americans holding seats in Congress and on the state government level.
Through hard work and meticulous planning, opponents to this grasp for power formed the African American Redistricting Collaborative (AARC) and successfully prevented any political losses. That’s right. This amazing coalition was able to preserve every traditionally black district, ensuring that potent leaders like Rep. Maxine Waters did not lose her position due to devious means. Newamericamedia.org describes the political maneuvers unleashed in an attempt to destroy black representation:
…[S]henanigans persisted. For example, the Mayor of Hawthorne appeared midway through the process to declare, much to the surprise of anyone who has ever looked at a map, that landlocked Hawthorne is a “beach-city” and should be grouped with its more affluent neighbors to the west.
The results of such a shift would have been drastic and disturbed the delicate balance of the African American population in Southeast Los Angeles County. Grouping Hawthorne with the western coastal communities would have led to a decline in African American representation. The move was a direct attack again on Rep. Waters’ district.
Not surprisingly, conservative members of the commission picked up this strange claim and ran with the “Hawthorne is a beach city” mantra until they were defeated when the final maps were approved.
Fortunately, a coalition of African American leaders and community organizations came together early in the process to form the African American Redistricting Collaborative (AARC).
AARC was able to anticipate these attacks, prepare and mobilize black communities, engage attorneys to provide a legal basis for our position, and ultimately preserve all of the current black districts in California.