CUNY TV: Redistricting — A Special Look

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On this special episode, protecting communities of color as district lines change. A battle for the soul of the Chinese community as they seek political power. CUNY clears up confusion about new districts. The twisted history of the science behind map manipulation. Then, what the average person knows about shifting political lines.

Skip to 3:09 to hear Jerry Vattamala, director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program, talk about our redistricting work in New York City.

Jerry Vattamala: So what the Voting Rights Act says is that if you can draw a district where there is a majority of one of these racial groups and that there’s political cohesion, where they are actually voting and supporting candidate, and the majority, which tends to usually be the white majority, has consistently voted as a block to defeat their preferred candidate, then you have the basic requirements of a Voting Rights Act district.

Shannon Ayala: Jerry Vattamala is an attorney with a civil rights organization called the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He says that though the Voting Rights Act grants protections to Black, Latino, Asian, and Indigenous populations in redistricting efforts, things can get very messy when redrawing these lines in a racially diverse city like New York.

Jerry Vattamala: Many times, communities of color will be pitted against each other, and will be advocating for their community, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but in certain circumstances it may be at the expense of other communities of color that are all protected under the federal Voting Rights Act.