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Pryor: Partisan gerrymandering could push Hoosiers of color further into the shadows

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS - Every 10 years, following the census, states are required to redraw congressional and legislative district lines. In the coming weeks, members of the Indiana General Assembly will convene to decide on maps setting the precedent for the next decade of elections. Rep. Pryor's unique positions as Indiana House Democratic Caucus Floor Leader, and member of the Indiana House Elections Committee and Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) give a unique perspective on upcoming events.

What follows is an op-ed written by Pryor, discussing her thoughts:

 

Systemic issues built into our society's social, economic and political systems have left communities of color behind for far too long.

We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity coming next month to finally give Black and Brown Hoosiers and their viewpoints proportional and fair representation in Congress and the Statehouse.

Achieving this will require the state legislature to reimagine our redistricting processes to eliminate gerrymandering once and for all. Let's be clear: partisan redistricting using political data will only push communities of color – which are already dramatically underrepresented – further into the shadows.

It is already well-publicized that both Indiana's state legislative and congressional districts are among the most gerrymandered in the country. A study suggests that the maps last drawn by the Republican supermajority skew towards the electoral favor of a single party – the Republican Party – more so than 95% of maps found across the United States. Most gerrymandered is not a category we should be proud to lead. It flips the sacredness of democracy on its head and puts power in the hands of politicians and not The People.

In a practice where disproportionate representation and diluted electoral power reign supreme, communities of color suffer the most.

Indiana minority communities are heavily concentrated in districts represented traditionally by Democratic lawmakers. While not a monolith, Hoosiers belonging to these typically underrepresented and underserved groups often identify disproportionately with one party, leaving them the most impacted by partisan redistricting. Black and Brown Hoosiers are often “packed, stacked and cracked” to amplify certain voices and silence others.

The current culture of our political systems should no longer stand. Hoosiers deserve better, which is why I join the advocates and organizers calling for a fair and independent redistricting system. The elimination of biases in the way we draw maps with an independent redistricting commission is the way forward.

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