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Multi-racial advocates demand redistricting fairness: State History of North Carolina

“Over the last decade, there have been many, many challenges to the maps drawn by the legislature,” Brazile said. “Courts have ruled in North Carolina in the past that not only were maps racially gerrymandered, but they were done with ‘surgical precision.’”

Since 2010 the North Carolina’s population surge and is documented in the 2020 census driven by the communities of color, earns the state its fourteenth seat in congress. Dr. Rebecca Tippett, Director, Carolina Demography urged to draw new maps for all districts in order to meet federal law that districts are proportionate in population.

Those communities which are included and the shape of the districts will be determined by the state legislature, in all probability with input from public hearings.

North Carolina’s coalition of ethnic and minority relocating advocates fear the probable outcome, given the Republican-dominated legislature’s map-drawing practices of the past.

All the advocate’s charge and their practices have given an unfair allocation of resources to its expats residence across every measure in their daily life- be it in education, transportation, housing, or health care.

According to Kyle Hamilton Brazile, Hamilton Brazile, Director of Civic Engagement, NC Counts Coalition, who was a part of the online news briefing organized by Ethnic Media Services beliefs that the dynamics of the power of his state rests with the legislature.

There is no independent commission that has authority here, and the governor [by law, regardless of party has no veto power. “North Carolina gives full authority to the legislature to draw congressional lines and draw state legislative lines.

Gerrymandering refers to distorting the shape of a district to limit the voting power of a rival bloc. Though the term referred to the salamander-like shape of a district drawn by Massachusetts Gov. Gerry in 1812, North Carolina has been the Massachusetts incarnate of modern times.

Brazile said the path to force a reconsideration of the legislature’s maps “often requires court action to challenge an illegal, racially gerrymandered district.” He also mentioned, “Over the last decade, there have been many, many challenges to the maps drawn by the legislature,” Brazile said. “Courts have ruled in North Carolina in the past that not only were maps racially gerrymandered, but they were done with ‘surgical precision.’”

Brazile has quoted the drawing of the 12th district, “which stretched all the way from Mecklenburg County to near Durham. The district was allocated 64 percent African-American majority in population and it was so narrow at some points that it was no wider than a highway lane.”
Robert Dawkins, a Charlotte-based community organizer and political director of Action NC, describes the intent of North Carolina’s legislature as “oppression and suppression.” Dawkins is incensed that the legislature exercises preemption over changes that counties and cities desire to implement on behalf of their constituents.

“What preemption means is that if powers are not included in your county or your city charter, you have to ask the general assembly permission to change it, or the general assembly can just deny you the right to do it. And that’s something that we’re really worried about here in Mecklenburg County.”
The 2020 census shows a rapidly changing state through the growth of other ethnic groups — but ones no less susceptible to legislative fiat. While North Carolina has historically used redistricting to limit the voting power of African Americans.

North Carolina’s population increase is not uniformly distributed. Some areas have lost population and 74 of the state’s 100 counties have experienced a decline in child populations. “As of today, we’re 60% White, 20% Black, 11% Latinx, 3% Asian and 6% all other race groups, including American Indian, other race, and multiracial.” With the exception of the Native American population, “virtually all racial-ethnic groups grew over the decade,” Tippett said, “but the largest numeric increase is Hispanic which grew by almost 320,000.”

The state has added 900,000 residents, up 9.5% from its 2010 census count. With its current population over 10.4 million, each of the now 14 congressional districts should contain approximately 745, 671 residents, according to Tippett’s calculations. “But we don’t know where the 14th district is going to go,” she added, “and we also don’t know the specific boundaries of those districts that will need to be redrawn.

According to Almonte’s view, the state the current state legislature’s attitude toward the Latinx community as hostile, pointing to the scheduling of public redistricting hearings at hours inconvenient for the employed or at places virtually inaccessible by public transportation.

Brazile concurred. “Under the current plan, there will only be 13 hearing sites throughout the state, a state with 100 counties. By comparison, in 2011 the North Carolina legislature held public hearings at 63 sites across the state.”
Another barrier for participation in redistricting forums is insufficient language access to information, especially for the fastest-growing racial group in the state, Asian Americans.
“Language access has been an issue not just in terms of voting but in terms of accessing any other resources in North Carolina.” Stated by Chavi Khanna Koneru, Executive Director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT), a pan-Asian social justice organization based in Raleigh.

This community is not a monolith,” Koneru said, noting that the pandemic has hit certain groups more significantly than others. “The Philippines Community has experienced a higher number of Covid deaths, Bangladeshis have lost more jobs, and Southeast Asian refugee communities… have experienced high rates of food insecurity.

And we all know that the East Asian community has been particularly hard hit by Covid-related hate and discrimination incidents.” Koneru also pushed for the need for the legislators tasked with redistricting to listen and understand the needs of North Carolinians of all backgrounds and across socio-economic status, a sentiment shared by Keisha Dobie, a CROWD fellow with the Pasquotank branch of the NAACP.

Dobie, who is a teacher for over 20 years, described a predominantly African American community in the northeast region near Virginia, referred to as North Carolina’s Black Belt, where a declining, aging populace has become the norm. “We are just bereft of resources that other areas might have in abundance…Ride through streets and neighborhoods and see the number of homes that are for sale; see the number of businesses that are trying to hire; look at the decrease in just the population as a whole.” Dobie also mentioned, because of the lack of broadband access in the region, students could not participate in remote learning for over a year.

“It really makes you concerned when the next redistricting process comes up because you’re wondering, will our northeast region be reflected as far as the needs? Will we receive resources that are necessary to help those that are still here?”

The coalition’s aim is to get maps drawn that can deliver a fair share, for example, of the $44 billion — based on the 2010 census — that was delivered to North Carolina in 2017. “Racial gerrymandering is illegal for a reason,” said Brazile. “It hurts the voters, the people, the institutions of the state.”

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