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Sunday, September 24, 2023

How racial tactics are used to dilute the Black vote and strengthen the white vote

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My last series aimed to increased awareness of how we collectively participate in our political process via our vote, and also to challenge our thinking in this area. This next series brings focus to the often unspoken, and under the radar, racially based strategies used by our political parties and politicians, left and right, Black and white.

This series is based on my work as a racial deconstructionist, addressing the connection between our mental health and the social construct of race ideology. The effectiveness of our vote is directly correlated to our mental health outcomes. Race and politics are tied at the hip, which is responsible for the racial disparities in our systems of service outcomes.

Please note the following established racial tactics and definitions that cross the span of the political process used in our country:

Racial Priming

Employing indirect references to racial minorities by highlighting issues associated with these groups, such as crime or welfare (Gilens 1999Gilliam & Iyengar 2000Mendelberg 20012008Valentino 1999).

Cracking

According to one glossary of redistricting terms, this tactic “splits a community into multiple districts to ensure it doesn’t have significant sway with a candidate. In the ugly racial history of redistricting, cracking was often used to ensure that African-Americans could not elect African-American politicians.”

Bleaching

When residents of color are moved through redistributing to reduce diversity to favor a white incumbent.

Packing

The practice of drawing electoral districts to consolidate the population of a community or constituency into a small number of districts. It is often used in conjunction with cracking to minimize the influence of a particular voting bloc to benefit another, a practice referred to as gerrymandering, of which there exist two types: partisan and racial.

Racial Gerrymandering

The practice of drawing electoral district lines to dilute the voting power of racial minority groups.

Racial distancing

The phenomenon whereby politicians convey to racially moderate and to racially conservative whites that they will not disrupt the racial status quo.

In view of these documented, well-known political practices, it is puzzling human behavior on the part of those who aggressively deny the importance, involvement and impact of race as it pertains to our political system and all other systems. Note the following list of just a few of the current legal actions challenging redistricting maps taking place across the country:

  1. Robinson v. Ardoin 
  2. ON APPEAL — Federal court action challenging congressional redistricting plan on racial vote dilution grounds.
  3. Black Voters Matter v. Lee 
    PENDING — State court challenge to congressional map as a partisan and racial gerrymander in violation of the state constitution.
  4. Alonzo v. Schwab 
    State court challenge to congressional districts as partisan and racial gerrymander in violation of state constitution.
  5. Thomas v. Merrill 
    PENDING — Federal court challenge to state legislative districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymander.
  6. NC League of Conservation Voters / Harper / Moore v. Hall 
    PENDING — State court action challenging legislative and congressional maps on partisan gerrymandering and racial vote dilution grounds.

Are we as a racial voting bloc aware of the impact of the redistricting practices here in our city? A September 2021 article written on this issue written by prominent Indianapolis attorney Alan Mills, a member of the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation board of directors, asserts the following:

“The 2011 redistricting resulted in a decade of single-party control, increasing supermajorities and a legislature more conservative and more rural than the public it represents, passing laws that have run counter to the wishes of an increasingly metropolitan and diverse population.”

In addition he further states, “Without fair maps creating truly competitive contests that elect legislators who look more like our state, legislation promoting racial justice policies cannot advance and legislation frustrating progress toward racial justice cannot be stopped.”

Have the past and current practices of redistricting disrupted the racial status quo to the benefit of our community?

Isn’t it time to adjust our racial tactics? Think about it.

George Middleton is a therapist and author promoting a series of works addressing race and mental health. For more information contact him at gmmusique@cs.com.

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