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NAACP Says Lack of Staff Diversity Will Present Future Problems

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Ethnic Diversity should be a top priority In the Selection of Commission Staff

The California State NAACP issued the following statement regarding this weeks selection of the staff for the Redistricting Commission:

With the January 28, 2011 meeting of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, six of the seven staff positions have been hired and the staff does not reflect the same pursuit of diversity that was reflected in the selection process of the Commission. “I am concerned that when the Commissioner’s were applicants for the Commission, practically every one of them said diversity was important.

However, in their very first opportunity to act on their commitment to diversity, they choose to ignore the minority community,” said Alice Huffman, President of California State NAACP.

The credibility of any redistricting map will hinge upon whether the entire community believes that the efforts of the Commission reflect balance and consideration for every community. The people who are charged with carrying out the wishes of the Commission will make a general statement about what one can expect as an outcome. The staff, not the Commission, will be responsible for the details upon which the maps will be drawn and if the staff does not reflect the State’s diversity, it is very possible that the maps will reflect the socio-cultural biases held by every individual.

The Commission must be very aggressive in conducting outreach to encourage people from all over the state and every ethnic group to apply for every vacant position. This did not happen as the Commission sought to fill the past six positions. Not one notice was sent to the minority press or community based organization.

The selection process and list of applicants was limited to closed sessions.

The Commission must be careful not to reflect the same kind of secret conduct that prompted the passage of Propositions 11 and 20.

The Commission also replaced Commission Elane Kuo, an Asian member, who resigned from the Commission. This gave them an opportunity to correct an ethnic imbalance that was caused by the random selection process. In the discussion, some of the Commissioners stated that they “were not concerned with diversity.”

Therefore, although they had an opportunity to correct an ethnic imbalance, they deliberately decided to continue the same imbalance. “When you put the above two issues together, the NAACP is very disappointed with these early critical actions by the Commission,” said Alice Huffman.

We call upon the Commission to reevaluate their current plan and develop a staffing configuration that makes it clear that all decisions will be fair and balanced and that all communities are included at every level.

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