What You Need To Know:
Although people of color accounted for over 95% of the population growth over the last decade in Texas that resulted in two new seats in the U.S. Congress, Texas state Republicans have used their majority to firm up their political dominance through the redrawing of all political maps. The redrawn congressional districts will force the two Black Democratic members of Congress to compete against each other. Republican redistricting will put Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green in the same south Texas district.
Political analysts point out the Texas Senate approved map is designed to protect most well-established members of Congress, while slashing the number of districts where Black and Hispanic residents make up the majority of eligible voters.
In a recent hearing before a Texas Senate committee, Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston cut to the heart of the redistricting matter.
“You have surgically undone what we have worked to create for many, many years.”
Congressman Al Green, also representing Houston, asked lawmakers to change the congressional map that puts them in the same district.
“It doesn’t look right for the only two persons in the state of Texas to be running against each other in a congressional district from the same party to be of African ancestry.”
Why You Need to Know:
Once upon a time, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 protected voters of color from this kind of discrimination. The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision removed those protections. Today, states like Texas with long histories of discrimination, are no longer required to get federal government approval before changing election laws or political maps. Black Democratic Representatives Jackson Lee and Green are at the mercy of Texas Republicans.
The proposed congressional map released by Texas Republicans includes two new districts, one in Austin and the other in Houston. Instead, GOP gerrymandering will diminish minority voting power by “double-bunking” the Houston representatives. This refers to putting two incumbents in the same district. In this case, it will lead to a primary contest between Representatives Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee.
While census data shows that minorities in Texas made up 95% of the state’s new population growth over the last decade, the Republican majority has managed to take away the representation that minorities rightly deserve.
In breaking down the current congressional map, political experts point to the 22 districts with White majorities, eight with Hispanic majorities, and one with a Black majority. If approved, the new map will increase the White majority district to 23, decrease the Hispanic majority districts to seven and eliminate the only Black-majority district.