Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brown Out

With the Iraq War dominating the headlines, the unrecognized war over congressional seats, who will represent them and the demographic changes creating this conflict avoids the headlines.

A recent special congressional election was held in the 37th district to see who would replace the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. This district has been a “black” district comprising the cities of Long Beach (North Side), Carson, and Compton. These historically African American neighborhoods have undergone a transformation over the past decade losing their “blackness” and becoming increasingly “brown.”
1990 27%
2000 35%
1990 42%
2000 56%
Long Beach
1990 23%
2000 36%

1990 26%
2000 25%
1990 55%
2000 40%
Long Beach
1990 13%
2000 11%

These trends can be projected across the major urban centers of America where traditionally black districts are slowly evolving into brown districts. During the 37th district’s election, many black leaders vocalized their concerns of losing a seat to a Hispanic.

changes will dramatically alter the political landscape within local, state, and federal elections. Democrats will be faced with an internal battle royal between old-line black leaders who paid their dues in the 1960s and the upstart Hispanics who demand and deserve a seat at the political table of democracy.

This demographic shift will also impact the black voters themselves. As more districts lose their blackness, black voters will be faced with the reality of being represented in government by non-black officials. This situation could force blacks to move “beyond” race or it could lead a massive level of political disenfranchisement.

Another byproduct of this change could be an opportunity for the
Party to become the new party for black America. As improbable as this seems, the only other major voter block which consistently expresses strong support for anti-illegal immigration measures are blacks. This combined with a Democratic party which is focused on winning the brown vote could sway some black Americans towards the GOP.

The upcoming 5 to 10 years will witness an acceleration in the demographic tides of change. How communities respond to these changes, the inclusive or exclusive nature of their
leadership’s message will largely determine the success or failure of our political system and our nation’s cohesion or thereof.


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