From Progress Virginia:
|Community Organizations Call Out Virginia Redistricting Commission for Ignoring Concerns of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Communities While Drawing Maps
A video of the press conference can be found here.
Richmond, Virginia—On Thursday morning, several organizations hosted a press conference to share their concerns that the Virginia Redistricting Commission is not prioritizing voters. The Commission’s focus so far has been on protecting incumbents, protecting a partisan balance, and not dividing locality lines. But community organizations are far more concerned about keeping communities together and ensuring the voting power of Black, Indigenous, and people of color is not diluted. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice, and the only way to do that is by keeping communities together.
“We’ve been paying attention to the Virginia Redistricting Commission, and we have grave concerns that they are focusing on the wrong priorities,” Ashleigh Crocker, Communications Director at Progress Virginia said. “So far, their conversations have centered around how to create districts that protect incumbent politicians, keep a partisan balance in the legislature, and avoid dividing localities. But what matters to us and our communities is keeping our communities together and ensuring that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have the same opportunity to pick a candidate of their choice as white communities do. There are lots of ways to create a map that keeps communities together and doesn’t dilute the voting power of communities of color. But in order to get there, you have to care. And it’s clear that some of the members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission aren’t prioritizing voters.”
“Redistricting by dividing communities that have a shared racial or ethnic background, common history, culture, religion, language, shared socio-economic status, economic ties, is erasing a history of fighting to build a common community and advance civic engagement that has contributed to the economic advancement of this area.” – Rosalia Fajardo, Executive Director/CEO of Multicultural Family and Education Center
“Our goal, and we believe the goal of any map making process, should be to ensure that all voters, including minority voters, have equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. So in developing these draft plans we absolutely took race into consideration in order to ensure that racial minorities have equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice. Race is just one of the many considerations that went into the development of our plans. Our maps also take into consideration other principles of fair representation including the careful protection of communities of interest in achieving fair and equal representation, for voters of all races that do not dilute voting strength on the basis of race, color, or or membership in a language minority group and furthermore do not lead to retrogression in the voting power of racial minorities, particularly African-Americans.” Tram Nguyen from New Virginia Majority
“We are asking the commission to please take a look at immigrant communities- not as pockets of different ideologies but rather as strong communities that are going to make Virginia better.” Andres Tobar, Executive Director of the Shirlington Employment & Education Center
“Asian American communities in Virginia have grown by 45% from 2010 to 2020 across nearly every locality in Virginia. Along with the steady increases in Asian American voter turnout year-after-year in Virginia, our communities have a lot at stake with redistricting. We can’t let our historic power building efforts be lost by splitting Asian American communities and communities of color across district lines,” said Sookyung Oh, Director of NAKASEC Virginia
“We need a representative that will represent us, that will speak for us now more than anytime before. We need to have our voices heard. We need to select our representatives. Now our voice is divided and not being heard. We stand against the current maps that don’t keep communities like ours together. When you draw our maps, you should prioritize keeping our communities together, and not drawing perfect shaped maps. Keep communities like ours together. In Alexandria, we feel like our voices are not being heard. We are trying to push for our voices to be heard.” Sami Bourma- community member
“We’ve seen an increasing disregard and disinterest in hearing the voices of the communities that our partners and that our coalition represents. We have to be the coalitions that hold the commission accountable, making sure they understand the impact they are having on these communities. We have to make sure they are hearing these voices and that we are doing everything we can to lift up these voices in the process.” Erin Corbett, Virginia Civic Engagement Table
At Progress Virginia, we drive powerful, values-based narratives to uplift and amplify grassroots voices through innovative digital communications and earned media strategies. We build progressive power alongside marginalized communities to tear down systems of white supremacy, advocate for equitable policies, and ensure leaders reflect the communities they serve.