“Unity” Redistricting Map for New York City is Fair and Necessary
AALDEF, CLSJ, and LatinoJustice of the Unity Map Coalition Propose Redistricting Plan
NEW YORK — The UNITY MAP COALITION, a coalition of the leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations representing people of color in New York City, unveiled its proposed redistricting plan for New York City earlier today. In contrast to the maps proposed by the Independent Redistricting Commission, the Unity Map demonstrates that fair and equitable districts for all New Yorkers are possible, ensuring that all communities, particularly those most vulnerable, have full and fair political power and representation.
“Redistricting is often encumbered in practices that tactically cancel out the collective voting strength of marginalized communities. Our Unity Map once again is a reflection of not only the population growth among communities of color in New York City, but also an example of a non-partisan equitable and fair map that does not dilute or diminish the vote of Latino, Black or Asian New Yorkers. The Unity Map is a prime example that redistricting can be accomplished in a manner that protects racial and language minorities and is guided by the principles of the Voting Rights Act,” said Lourdes Rosado, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
“New Yorkers need and deserve a fair and equitable redistricting process that provides Black, Asian, Latino, and other vulnerable communities with their rightful political power for the next decade. The Unity Map is a powerful non-partisan guide that offers protected voters the chance to elect candidates that represent their interests and amplify their collective voices. We urge the Independent Redistricting Commission to adopt the Unity Map and encourage communities to actively participate in the process so that the value of their votes is fully realized,” said Lurie Daniel-Favors, Esq, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College (CLSJ).
“Despite a painful history of exclusion and continued xenophobic violence exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have persisted to become the fastest growing racial group in the country, as clearly demonstrated by the latest census data. The Unity Map reflects these changing demographics to ensure that diverse Asian American communities have the political power they deserve and their voting rights protected, as is promised by the Voting Rights Act,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
Among the key distinctions between the IRC maps and the Unity Map are the Senate district designations. The Coalition bolstered New York State’s current Senate districts by expanding the number of New York City Senate districts from 26 to 28, correcting the historic dilution of New York City’s voting strength. The Unity Map also accurately reflects the exponential growth of Asians in New York City by drawing an additional majority Asian Senate district in Brooklyn and correcting the historic splintering of Richmond Hill. Coalition members listened to community stakeholders; its deep understanding of communities guided the district drawing process.
Census data drove the creation of Unity Map districts, which were also informed by the city’s communities of interest. The existing districts and many of the IRC’s proposed districts divide communities of interest and diminish the electoral power of Asian, Latino, and Black communities. Communities of color fueled New York City’s growth over the past decade and this increase must be reflected in the city’s new electoral districts. The Coalition’s map provides an accurate reflection of the areas where NYC’s communities of color reside and removes any partisan political calculation from the redistricting process. Through thoughtful discussion and analysis, Unity Map Coalition partners worked collaboratively to create a map that reflects the strength of its growing populations while navigating areas of difference, ensuring that all communities are equitably represented.
The Coalition was formed three decades ago to address a redistricting process that produced electoral districts that egregiously diminished the strength of Black, Asian, and Latino communities and voters. This historic disenfranchisement of communities of color drives the Coalition’s work and informs its approach to redistricting.
The Coalition’s mapping process is guided by a commitment to create districts that accurately reflect demographic changes in the population while preserving communities of color in districts that enhance their ability to maintain political power and advance the issues and candidates that reflect their interests and impact their residents. Its mapping principles keep communities of interest together and ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act while making certain that the voting power of marginalized communities is not diluted.
About the UNITY MAP COALITION The Coalition has been at the forefront of nonpartisan redistricting to protect communities of color for the last three decades. During the last Redistricting cycle in 2010-11, the Coalition successfully advocated for the adoption of its historic Unity Map for the 2010 Redistricting Congressional districts in NYC, the State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council. This Coalition rewrote redistricting history in NYS and serves as a model for the nation of collective advocacy and power sharing by diverse racial and cultural communities within a jurisdiction.
About LatinoJustice LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org
About AALDEF The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence.
About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College CLSJ’s mission is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.