Echoes of Resegregation: Redistricting Southern States

Pasos is deRedistricting takes center stagedicated to the proliferation of “positive peace.” One of the principles of this concept is the shared democratic use of power. Based on the 2010 census figures, districts across the United States are now being redrawn. This raises the question of how this potentially affects our cherished sharing of power.

The Nation reports, “Throughout the South, Republicans are taking advantage of the state legislative control they gained in 2010 to redraw districts in a way that dilutes the power of the Democratic vote. But what’s most disturbing about this redistricting push is the fact that districts are being redrawn along racial lines, threatening to undo a decades-long integration process in a region with a long and brutal history of racial segregation.”

North Carolina State Senator Eric Mansfield states that, “We’re having the same conversations we had forty years ago in the South, that black people can only represent black people and white people can only represent white people. I’d hope that in 2012 we’d have grown better than that.”

Writing for The Nation, Ari Berman puts it this way, “It’s not just happening in North Carolina. In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats.”

“What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.” The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels.”

There is nothing new about gerrymandering. Both Democrats and Republicans have a long history of using this strategy to bolster successful election results for their respective party. Yet, the longevity of this history must not distract us from the corrupting effect it has on our right to a shared democratic use of power. Using politics to strip an individual or group of equal participation in this process is antithetical to positive peace. Using political maneuvering to enshrine segregation by race for the next decade is tantamount to an open act of aggression.

For more on this topic, read “How the GOP is Resegregating the South” by Ari Berman in The Nation:

by William Repicci

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