Where are the Latinos?

The participation of the Los Angeles Latino community in the process of redistricting has been extremely low. The absence of their voice either through private channels or public hearings will have long-term negative repercussions over the next 10 years.

The Redistricting Commission that is in charge of redrawing the political landscape of Los Angeles to reflect demographic changes that have taken place in the past decade has now released the borders of the map. It is now the public’s turn to make its opinions heard so that needed corrections will be made in the final map.

The danger is that the current draft doesn’t reflect the growth of the Latino community, which today is close to half of the city’s population, yet, only five of 15 districts are represented by Latino council members.

The new map holds the possibility of creating a sixth Latino-majority district. The problem is Latinos don’t seem to support the idea.

The absence of Latinos at previous commission public hearings was startling whereas the participation of other groups with interests in the new map – be they ethnic or geographic groups or especially neighborhood councils – was very active.

It is possible that this pattern of absence of Latinos could continue into the new round of public hearings. That would be completely inacceptable.

There are many Los Angeles-based organizations that advocate for the interests of Latinos, whether they are voters, documented or undocumented immigrants, business people, workers, the unemployed, or women and children. What they hold in common is that they all are residents of this city.

This is why we must ask, why aren’t the many pro-Latino organizations that thrive in Los Angeles participating in the redistricting process, giving voice to a geographic priority that should unite them across the broad range of important causes they fight for on a daily basis.

One of the most repeated comments made by our readers is about the disunity among the Latino community. In many cases, the idea of unity is more of an ideal than a reality given the very real differences that exist in such a diverse community. Other times, it is individual egos that get in the way.

Political power for Latinos is the way for the concerns of our community to be heard and solutions sought for these problems. It should be a goal in common for us all.

Start participating in the process by attending one of the hearings or use the Internet to make your opinions heard.