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The Race Politics of LA Redistricting

URBAN PERSPECTIVE - It’s not hard to be at a loss for words regarding the LA Redistricting process. It is has been nothing more than a soap opera. You can almost guess what is going to happen next with each new scene from start to finish. At the close of each episode, you are left wondering what is next and what new dramatics are on the horizon in the drawing of the lines battle.
The politicians in each district are striving for gold in this Olympic race. Some are on the 100 meter dash to gain allies, economic, and future political capital to change their sphere of influence. Others are on the 10K using their resilience and stamina to vie for equal representation.

Are LA Councilmembers Wesson and Huizar the gold medal winners? No one really knows. The speculations of insider dealing and pre-decision making are conspiracies at best. Finger pointing and accusations only bring more controversy to a race where this is no photo finish.

The City Council’s review and adoption of the redistricting boundaries has taken on a 200 meter sprint. The shortened timeframe seems unanticipated since the City Charter directs the City Council to deliberate and adopt new boundaries by June 30th. What’s the rush? Will communities affected by the maps have enough time to develop a strategy to contest the competition for a monumental victory? Let’s wait and see.

To flip the script, LA Districting isn’t exhibiting the City as a melting pot. It’s a salad bowl that is picking what additions, garnishes, and dressing will best suit a savory experience. And, race is the center of attention.

Who knew there was a “Black Westchester”; and that they would be an appropriate fit for CD 8 as a consolation prize? More than likely, they are insulted by the revelation and new found designation.
Who can forget James Becks’ comments, a member of Koreatown, in reference to keeping the Korean community whole and political power? “Our community will no longer sit idly and be pimped out like a two-dollar whore.”

The race cliff hanger doesn’t stop there. It continues with race and class rearing its head. “Economic apartheid” is not a fashionable statement, but a strong belief that have constituents in Councilman Bernard Parks’ and Councilwoman Jan Perry’s districts crying foul. Now, these proposed districts are labeled as predominantly minority and poor with no economic engine to balance some of its stressed communities. The association with apartheid resonates as mental picture of what’s to come and who will benefit more by the new lines.

The arena is full of spectators figuring out what meaning of race fits LA Redistricting. Is it the black and white checkered flag at the finish line or voter representation? No matter what race it is, it’s all politics.

(Janet Denise Kelly is a CityWatch featured contributor. She offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at and can be reached at: -cw

Vol 10 Issue 19
Pub: Mar 6, 2012