Ethnic Media Convene to Discuss Northern Virginia Redistricting Plan

Ethnic Media Convene to Discuss Northern Virginia Redistricting Plan

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 20 ethnic media representatives from the Washington, D.C., area came together Tuesday at a press briefing on a Northern Virginia redistricting plan that would divide Hispanic, Asian and African-American populations into multiple voting districts that dilute their political power despite their growing numbers.

Focusing on Prince William County—considered one of the hot spots for redistricting efforts around the United States—speakers urged ethnic media to inform the communities they serve about the new district map approved by the all-white Board of County Supervisors in April and the potential negative effects the map could have for people of color.



Tram Nguyen of Virginia New Majority, a statewide advocacy group that claims more than 60,000 members, said the county-drawn map is gerrymandered to dilute the voting strength of minority and
immigrant communities. "This will make us invisible—a violation of the Voting Rights Act," she said.

"We, as journalists, have the responsibility to educate our audiences...so that the annexing in Richmond, Virginia, in the '70s, which polarized the city along racial lines, will not happen again,"
said award-winning journalist Hazel Edney, editor-in-chief of the Trice Edney News Wire. As a result of the Richmond redistricting, she added, the city’s black majority was shredded into several districts, weakening the ability of black voters to elect their own representatives.

Other panelists included Donita Judge of the Advancement Project, a civil rights group working to increase voter participation among low-income ethnic communities, and Patricia Richie Folks, a Prince William resident. The briefing was sponsored by New America Media, in collaboration with Virginia New
Majority.

As a follow-up effort, a collective editorial that reflects the opinions of ethnic and immigrant communities in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia will be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ must OK any Prince William redistricting map before it goes into effect. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Prince William—which 10 years ago was two-thirds white—has become one of the nation’s most diverse counties. Of its 402,000 residents, more than half are people of color, according to new Census data, including 78,000 African Americans, 82,000 Hispanics and 30,000 Asians.

Over the past decade, the county’s Hispanic population surged by 204 percent and the Asian population soared by 172 percent, compared with a 43 percent increase in the county’s population as a whole.
 

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