Some minority groups in New Mexico are so small that they feel left out of the process Legislator | Legislative session in New Mexico


Alexandria Taylor does not believe that New Mexico’s myth of tricultural harmony is good for all residents of the state.

That’s because New Mexico has more than three cultures, even if those groups make up only a fraction of the state’s roughly 2.1 million people, she said.

And sometimes these other cultures are left out.

“If you pass the myth on, you are really wiping out all of us who don’t fit into these groups,” said the co-founder of the New Mexico Black Central organizing committee in Albuquerque.

Case in point: the legislative redistribution process taking place in the legislature. While those involved in the process push for compliance with the 1965 Suffrage Act – which aims to remove barriers preventing blacks and other minorities from voting – the main ethnic groups are priority during the special session at the Roundhouse who have favourited Native American and Hispanics.

Native American groups have come out on top to ensure they maintain at least six House districts with Native American majority voters. And there has been a lot of discussion about maintaining Hispanic majority constituencies.

But there was little or no public discussion of the other races and ethnic groups in the state.

“Our number is as small as it is – including for the Asian-American community – we are often overlooked and openly excluded from many discussions and decisions here in the state,” said Mason Graham of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council in Albuquerque.

“We live in this progressive state that cares about its ethnic groups and ensures that minority groups are represented, but we continue to see groups with smaller populations being excluded,” said Graham, who is black.

Nationwide there have been reports of gerrymandering efforts diluting black voting rights, often by dividing areas with strong black electoral numbers into different counties and counties – a process known in the redistribution world as “cracking”.

Another option – one that can sometimes be put in small bags to the benefit of a minority group – is known as “packing”. This happens when lawmakers change boundaries to move all voters of a particular race to one district, diluting their influence on several others.

Based on U.S. census data – which lawmakers use every 10 years to draw new boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, state parliaments, and, in the case of New Mexico, the Public Education Commission – blacks make up 2.6 percent of the roughly 2.1 Million residents of the state.

Asian Americans make up 1.8 percent.

By comparison, Hispanics make up 49.3 percent of the state and locals 11 percent.

None of these smaller groups have enough residents to keep the majority in a district, but they want to be included in the redistribution discussions to make a difference in 10 years’ time.

“We want our voices to be heard,” said Sachi Watase, executive director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center in Albuquerque. “And because the Asian population is so often underestimated and underrepresented in civil processes, it is important that our communities have equal voting rights and that we are fairly represented in the legislative process.”

On this agenda is the suggestion of your own card concepts. Graham and other black activists proposed a proposal in early October for a house card that would hold the 1,700 or so black residents of Albuquerque’s International District together, and the same for the 2,000 black residents of Clovis.

Although the map didn’t gain any prominence with the committee, it speaks for the commitment of New Mexican Blacks to making sure they aren’t overlooked, he said.

“We want to be housed in a district in order to increase our power as much as possible,” he said.

But these activists admit that they need to do more to become part of this process before the next round of redistribution takes place in a decade.

It was a challenge to involve their own community members, they said.

Sometimes, Watase said, something as simple as a language difference can prevent people from attending public gatherings, such as those held over several months this year, to present and discuss various redistribution plans.

Her organization has interpreters who can translate nine Asian languages, but there are many more languages ​​to consider and it can be difficult to schedule translators to match those who need them, she said.

Graham said the challenge is to convince black voters to join the process, since they have long been “historically ignored”. Regarding the tricultural myth, he said, “A lot of people may think, ‘This is not for me,’ because they’re not Hispanic or Native American or White.”

“They say, ‘I’m black and it doesn’t matter because they don’t listen to me,’ and that’s a shame.”

Your communities joined forces late this summer to attend the Citizens Redistribution Committee hearings that formed the final cards that the committee recommended for lawmakers to consider. They also joined a coalition that supported a card of Congress called “the people’s card”.

To some extent, this map, which has met with Republican criticism, has turned into Senate Draft 1 that would move parts of Albuquerque into southern 2. The southern halves of Zuni and Isleta pueblos would also be part of the district. The 1st Congressional District would continue to encompass most of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho and the surrounding communities, but would also encompass all of Lincoln County in southern New Mexico.

Alexandria Taylor, who is Black, said joining forces with other cultural community organizations, including Native American and Hispanic units, increases the influence of Black and Asian voters in the state and helps raise awareness of some of the smaller population groups.

It is unclear what role other minority groups with lower voter numbers play in this. Spokesman Tahir Gauba of the New Mexico Islamic Center in Albuquerque said that while his group has not reached out to lawmakers about redistribution, “it looks like they are paying no attention to smaller minority groups. I can say that we are not part of the discussion. “

Even so, Taylor said blacks will continue to push to be part of the conversation.

“We are here,” she said. “You can’t say you haven’t heard from black people. We want to be there. “

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