The California Citizen Redistricting Commission is coming to the Inland Empire on Sunday at two o’clock to hear from us on the newly drawn political district lines for congress, senate, and assembly. It is crucial for you to speak up about how you feel or see these lines because they will represent your voice when it comes to public policy on education, business development, transportation, jobs, and healthcare by the ones you elect.
Every ten years new district lines are drawn for us to elect representation in Sacramento and Washington, DC. For the past two or three decades, the Inland Empire has only had one democrat at a time; George Brown and now Joe Baca, representing the two counties of Riverside and San Bernardino in congress. In Sacramento, the same could be said and for the last ten years, Riverside County has had no democrat elected in the senate or assembly. In San Bernardino, it has been different where democrats have represented the citizens of San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto and Fontana in Sacramento holding office as a senator and assembly member. Six years ago, San Bernardino elected its first African American, Wilmer Amina Carter to the Assembly. All of that could change with new district lines to dilute your numbers as a group of people and Carter cannot run because of term limits. Because of the increased number of people in the Inland Empire, we will have some new districts in congress and in Sacramento. These new seats will not have incumbents so every candidate will start from scratch.
What has happened over the past ten years when it comes to African Americans in California? We have moved around internally by leaving the urban cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles and set up housekeeping in Riverside and San Bernardino County. Not only has Riverside County become the state’s fastest growing county for all people but it is the same for African Americans.
According to the U.S. Census these cities of the Inland Empire gained in real numbers for African Americans in: Moreno Valley 32,493, Riverside 20,266, Corona 9,154, Murrieta 4,958, Perris 6,238 and Temecula 3,542 and San Bernardino 32,374, Fontana 13,329, Rancho Cucamonga 13,369, Ontario 13,676, Chino 5,040 and even though Rialto 16,104 is still the third largest city for African Americans in San Bernardino County they lost Blacks for reasons unknown. They were at 20,464 at the start of 2000 census. The total number of Blacks in San Bernardino County stands at 172,125 up 8.9% and Riverside County at 124,960 up 6.1 percent.
It will be important for Blacks of Moreno Valley and Riverside to ban together as communities of interest. They share many things in common. It would be the same for San Bernardino, Rialto, Colton and Highland when it comes to a singular political voice. We have so many problems needing to be addressed when it comes to educating our children, seeking employment, improving access to healthcare, business loans, and yes electing people to office with our interest at heart.
For our people, this redistricting is the way the political game is played by political parties, business, and cities of interest. I know many of my people especially those who attend church, do not believe in this process but I wish to remind them that when Jesus was born it was all about the census, Luke 2:1. So to them I say re-engage in the game, this is another step in the process to say who will represent your voice and set policies on where to spend your hard earned tax dollars.
Some of the things this commission must take into consideration when drawing the lines is section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act regarding race, contiguous territory, respect for community interest and natural or manmade borders. For example, If district lines for assembly were drawn to split in half the African American voters in the City of Riverside, their vote would be diluted, which might be a violation of the voting rights act. The same would hold true for any city.
According to the commission calendar they will convene a hearing for the Inland Empire area at the San Bernardino County Government Building, 285 N. Arrowhead Ave. (downtown) on June 19, 2011 (Father’s Day) from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. They want to hear from you. For more information visit their website at www.wedrawthelnes.ca.gov. So come out and let your thoughts be heard and make your vote count.