Editor’s note: We initially reported a group had partnered with the Soul District Business Association; however, the group is working with another organization and has not endorsed any particular proposed redistricting map. We regret the error.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in 40 years Oregon is receiving an additional congressional district. But not everyone agrees on how to redraw the maps.
Following the Oregon Legislature’s proposal of new district maps last week, some community leaders have submitted their own plans — citing those pitched by the legislature as an attempt to silence minority voices.
“It’s ludicrous for them to believe that they can just cut us up,” said John Washington, Executive Director of the Soul District Business Association. “Historically, we’ve been marginalized and disrespected through this process. We didn’t want to be fragmented and split up.”
In response to outrage expressed by BIPOC citizens, the Soul District Business Association proposed the Albina Soul District Statewide Congressional Map to be considered in Oregon’s redistricting hearings.
The We Draw Oregon Campaign has partnered with the United Way Columbia-Willamette to promote community-based organizations to engage with the state’s redistricting process; however, neither organization has endorsed any particular proposed map.
“These maps that they’ve got are dividing us and cutting us up. And we just wanted to see a BIPOC map that would have some representation,” Washington explained.
According to Washington, the maps outlined by the legislature trigger past trauma for the community, as they splinter and scatter minority voters statewide, diluting their impact.
“The real thrust of this effort is getting minorities to have an equal participation in all districts,” Washington stated. “And we have proposed a map that shows that.”
The Albina Soul District Statewide Congressional Map suggests minorities make up an average of 25.5 % of representation in all six districts, pushing back against proposed maps that fragment or lump BIPOC communities together.
Washington told KOIN 6 News this effort is critical because, “the money and politics follow these kinds of things. It dictates the allocation of resources.”
“They keep talking about elevating the BIPOC community and bridging the wealth gap,” Washington said. “It seems to be a good ‘community level’ conversation but when it gets to a political level the rhetoric changes.”
The Albina Soul District Plan has been gaining traction within the BIPOC community, with supporters advocating for the plans advancement at Oregon’s redistricting hearings.
Lawmakers have until September 27 to enact redistricting plans.
Washington urges those who support the map to submit testimony, reach out to their representatives, and get involved.