As an advisor to the Coalition of Color (COC), which includes Oiste, NAACP, Chinese Progressive Association, MassVote and others, I take great exception to the creation of a perception of division where none exists (“Redistricting plans divide community” Bay State Banner, July 26, 2012).
A divided community goes against the grain of the intent of the coalition and serves to diminish the coalition’s goal of greater political empowerment for communities of color.
The fact is there have been no less than l0 to l5 different maps floating around the City Council starting with Councillor Linehan’s first map which Mayor Thomas Menino publicly panned as unfair.
So quotes attributed to the NAACP in Kevin Peterson’s article are responses to earlier maps. Pulling them out as responses to the current map embraced by the NAACP and other members of the COC hardly seems fair.
The map currently before Councillor Linehan’s committee is an amalgamated map that takes into consideration the wishes of most of the district city council incumbents.
The COC has drawn a map that takes into account community input and questions of legality in the drawing of the districts.
The Mayor will have the final signoff. The COC map shows how District 2 Councillor Linehan’s district (South Boston and Chinatown) can be drawn to diminish the age old “cracking” of that district that has allowed one neighborhood (South Boston) to dominate Chinatown and the South End.
The COC map also shows how District 4, Councillor Yancey’s (Dorchester - Mattapan) district, can be “unpacked” so that some of his population, which is 96 percent people of color, can be shared by District 3 and 5, which is showing greater growth of populations of color. Councilor Yancey’s rallying cry is to keep Mattapan whole. To do that and meet legal standards against “packing,” he must give up other areas of the district.
It is my hope that the council will work closer with the COC to develop a map that fairly represents the constituents they serve and avoids a potential lawsuit.
The back and forth about the “three-strike” law should include another discussion that seems to be ignored. We should become more vocal and demanding of our community leaders and elected officials to put more emphasis on early childhood development centers through grade 9.
It seems that there is a predisposition that our youth will go to prison and this projected outcome is research based. Early childhood development centers should be mandated to have mandatory time periods for parents to work with their children as opposed to just dropping them off. There is a dual benefit in that the parent learns to become a better parent and the child is better able to bond.
We must take the time and look at variables that we can change through the legislative process. The issue is more than just the proposed “three strike” law.
It is about understanding that we can do better in our strategy for social justice.