by Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP has informed the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) that it is “prepared to take legal action” should the current iterations of maps stay the way they are currently drafted.
Rick Callendar, president of the California-Hawaii NAACP, said the Assembly and Senate maps the commission is proposing for Los Angeles County and areas of the East Bay will weaken Black political power. Los Angeles County and the East Bay are regions in the state where the highest numbers of African Americans live.
“We believe that maintaining the integrity of Black community boundaries is integral to electoral representation of Black residents in California and urge the commission to consider the long-term implications of weakening historically Black-led coalition legislative districts,” Callendar wrote. “The iteration of the latest maps erases the culture of diversity that is ingrained in the fabric of California.”
The California-Hawaii NAACP pointed out that while maps may seem to represent fair and equitable representation for communities of color, they will actually have unintended consequences in three areas of concern: minimizing Black representation, a loss of seats that will end Black political power and eliminating African American voter influence.
“Due to rising housing costs, Black residents throughout the state of California are experiencing homelessness in record numbers and aren’t being counted in the census. This means we lose much-needed political representation,” Callendar said in the statement released on Dec. 3.
Every 10 years, California must redraw the boundaries of its electoral districts so that the state’s population is evenly allocated among the new districts. In 2008 California voters passed the Voters First Act, authorizing the creation of the CRC to draw new district lines.
“This . . . is a violation of the African-American community’s equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
On Nov. 10, the CRC released draft maps for the state’s Congressional, Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization districts ahead of the California Supreme Court mandated Nov. 15 deadline.
“These are not intended to be final maps and we strongly encourage Californians to continue weighing in until we get it right,” stated CRC chairperson Trena Turner. “A global pandemic and delayed census data would not stop this commission from delivering on its promise to create maps that encourage fair representation. We will have final maps completed and certified by the Dec. 27, 2021, deadline.”
“This is not equitable and is a violation of the African-American community’s equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Callendar wrote to CRC’s executive director Alvaro E. Hernandez. “It is also completely unnecessary and avoidable to dilute Black representation in Los Angeles.”
Callendar warned the CRC that if the maps are not equitable, the next step would be litigation.
“The California-Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP will not stand by and watch our communities suffer due to maps which will disenfranchise Black voters and representation,” Callendar stated. “We are prepared to take legal action to ensure that our communities are protected, remain whole and strong and our political power is preserved.”
California Black Media, serving California’s Black press, boasts a record of ensuring that the Black viewpoint remains central to all the debates that shape life in California. Antonio Ray Harvey and other members of the CBM staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.