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Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery at Night

Source: Susanne Neumann / Getty

Right now, the most popular Republican talking point declares that systemic racism is a lie. Yet, GOP legislators and elected officials keep demonstrating exactly what structural racism is and how it operates. For example, if a legislative body redistricts its state’s congressional map in a way that intentionally dilutes Black voting power, they are engaging in systemic/structural racism. This is not something that can be done by the racist store clerk who refuses to stop following around his Black customers, or the Karen who calls 911 the second she sees a Black person she thinks doesn’t belong. We’re talking about people in positions of power applying racism to the way they yield said power. We’re talking about a legally sanctioned electoral system that works against Black people and benefits white people by design. That’s exactly what critical race theory is meant to examine, and that’s exactly why it’s so important for white conservatives in power to make white civilians afraid of CRT, despite the fact that the academic study has nothing to do with white people on the individual level. (I mean, perhaps outside of the fact that white individuals elect the white officials who directly contribute to systemic racism—but that’s another story for another day.)

According to the Associated Press, on Tuesday, federal judges said they will draft new congressional lines for Alabama after its chair-worthy legislators refused to create a congressional map that included at least two majority-Black voting districts, which the judges only needed to do after Alabama Republicans revealed their newly-drawn map that conveniently only included one Black district in a state that is nearly 30% Black.

From AP:

The three-judge panel blocked use of the state’s newly drawn congressional map in next year’s elections. A special master will be tapped to draw new districts for the state, the judges said. Alabama is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a significant step toward equal representation for Black Alabamians,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which backed one of the court challenges that led to the decision.

The Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature hastily drew new lines this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the panel’s finding that the map — that had one majority-Black district out of seven in a state where 27% of residents are Black — likely violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

The three-judge panel, in striking down Alabama’s map in 2022, said the state should have two districts where Black voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. Because of racially polarized voting in the state, that map would need to include a second district where Black voters are the majority or “something quite close,” the judges wrote.

The instruction the panel of judges gave Alabama legislators was simple: Create a second Black congressional district “or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.” Instead, Republicans in Alabama, which has seven congressional districts in all, maintained the Black district it already had and increased the number of Black voters in another district from 30% to 40%. This is like if your parents demanded you clean your room so you made up your bed and considered the job done.

“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature—faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district—responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” the judges wrote. “The law requires the creation of an additional district that affords Black Alabamians, like everyone else, a fair and reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The 2023 Plan plainly fails to do so.”

Meanwhile, in the next state over, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is hearing a similar case in Georgia where GOP legislators are also accused of drawing congressional maps that intentionally break up Black voting blocs so that white votes decide the Peach State’s elections. According to AP, the decision could shape 2024’s congressional elections in several states accused of the same redistricting practices including Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas and Florida. Speaking of Florida…

This is the perfect time to remind you all that when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to break up the majority Black voting districts on his state’s congressional map, he literally called it an attempt to create “race-neutral” districts. Conveniently enough, Florida officials did not appear to take the same approach to any of the state’s majority white districts. But no worries—it’s only the GOP’s leading anti-CRT advocate explicitly demonstrating systemic racism. 

But then, that’s just the American way.


Alabama Redistricting Case: We Must Be Clear-Eyed About Where We Are And Where We Go From Here

OP-ED: Let’s Not Get Distracted, Redistricting Is Important

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