(Photo: Patrick Pleul/Landov)
California’s 33rd Congressional District has for decades been represented by an African-American, first the late Rep. Julian Dixon, then Rep. Diane Watson, who retired last year, and now rising star Rep. Karen Bass. But if the California Redistricting Commission (CRC) has its way, “years of hard-won African-American voting power and multi-racial unity” will be lost, Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the African-American Redistricting Collaborative (AARC) told the Los Angeles Sentinel.
The AARC, whose members include several community and faith-based organizations, collaborated with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to create what they’re calling “unity maps” that consider each of the group’s interests. But according to Harris-Dawson, the CRC map not only uses undisclosed reports and data to redraw district lines and it also pits African-Americans against Latinos.
“We need to be clear with the CRC that African-American voting power is not easily swept under the rug. Despite all of the hard work and effort by these three groups to develop a map that addresses their interests in the most complex part of the state, the CRC’s maps selectively place African Americans at the back of the line in protecting voting rights,” said Jackie Dupont-Walker of Ward Economic Development Corporation told the Sentinel. “This is a clear case of packing, in violation of federal law. If the CRC decides to ignore the law and public input without due consideration of either, then AARC will pursue a fair district map using all available options.”
Critics of the CRC’s map also charge that it sets back African-American political gains in the state’s assembly and Senate.