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We applaud Court decision in overturning
N.C.'s biased redisricting plans
Bob Hall the U.S.
Guest ?ourt ?led
_ , . that maps
Columnist drawn by
requirements of the Voting Rights Act by
packing African-Americans into a small
number of districts.
On Monday, April 20, the Court point
id to that decision and ordered the N.C.
Supreme Court to reconsider a challenge to
the maps drawn by the Republican-con
trolled General Assembly for congression
al and state legislative districts.
Democracy North Carolina is one of
the plaintiffs challenging these maps.
We applaud this decision as an impor
tant step in overturning the biased redis
tricting plans that aggressively promote
segregation in order to help a partisan
j political agenda.
Our research shows that mapmakers
used zigzagging district boundary lines to
divide precincts and counties with the goal
of creating racially segregated political
districts. The lines were purposely drawn
to isolate and concentrate African
American voters into a set number of
majority-black districts, while concentrat
ing white voters in other districts.
?Overall, 563 of the
state's 2,692 precincts
were divided into more
than 1,400 sections by
the new plans, More than
one fourth (27.2 percent)
of North Carolina's vot
ing-age population live
in these split precincts, where neighbors
will get different ballots and have less abil
ity to work together for common political
ends. Importantly, black voters are twice
as likely as whites to live in one of these
?Republican mapmakers said they had
to segregate voters in this manner to create
majority-black districts that would satisfy
the Voting Rights Act's
have a fair chance to
elect representatives of
their choice. But 15 of
the 25 African-American
legislators in the 2010
General Assembly were elected in districts
where black voters were a minority. They
were elected by a "fusion coalition" of
people of color and white voters. The U.S.
Supreme Court is right: Packing blacks
into arbitrarily fixed super-majority dis
tricts is no longer required for them to elect
candidates of their choice. _
?Republican mapmakers admit their
goal in splitting many precincts and draw
ing weirdly shaped districts was to
increase the chances that their party's rep
resentatives would win elections, and they
adamantly deny that race was a deciding
factor in how the splits were made.
However, it turns out that the GOP map
makers only had the racial identity of vot
ers below the precinct level, not the party
affiliation. They could not zigzag a line
through a precinct based on where voters
from one party or another lived; instead,
they were using race as a surrogate for who
was likely a Democrat or a Republican.
The divisive strategy used in drawing
these maps undermines the development
of multiracial fusion coalitions in North
Carolina. White Democrats used similar
strategies 120 years ago to fight a fusion
coalition of black Lincoln Republicans and
white Populists - and now white
Republicans are doing the same thing.
Democracy North Carolina recognizes
that some partisan advantage and precinct
splitting is inevitable in how new maps are
But the plans developed in 2011 divid
ed far more precincts than ever before and
went well beyond the limits of acceptable
political greed. North Carolina can and
must do better.
Bob Hall is the Executive Director of
Democracy North Carolina.
5 One view of succeeding while black:
ways to avoid altercations with the police
During the past few
l w . months, there have been
| Matthew numerous incidents ? some
Drayton tragic ?where police offi
cers were accused of brutali
Guest ty ancl abuse of power
against African- Americans,
Columnist including Ferguson. Missori;
North Charleston, Sbuth
Carolina; and New York
being the most well-known.
Some of the incidents were caught on video. There are
nearly 780,000 sworn officers in the United States protect
ing and serving 319 million Americans. Police officers
have a very difficult and stressful job, but that is no excuse
to use excessive force. However, we must take into
account what these officers go through and understand
that all police officers aren't bad.
I have been in situations where I could have easily got
ten into confrontations with police officers. Years ago, I
regularly worked with local and state police officers in
major cities throughout the U.S. I can tell you firsthand
that there are some police officers that are prejudiced or
egotistical, and some that have their own agendas.
I remember arriving in Texas to meet and work with
local police there. When 1 reached out to shake one of the
officer's hands, he refused! Later during that same trip, I
was almost arrested because the same police officer who
wouldn't shake my hand failed to tell a group of his fellow
officers who I was as I approached them.
On another trip to California, a police officer stood 2
feet in front of me and stared me down while I waited to
meet with the deputy police chief. I had never met this
officer before, nor did I do anything to him to warrant the
stare he was giving me.
In both Texas and California, 1 was the only African
American in the group; my co-workers were not subjected
to the same treatment. In both cases, 1 had no choice but
to work through whatever issues those police officers had
with me. I did not respond to their behavior toward me,
and worked more closely with the officers who reached
out to me than the ones who didn't. In the end, we success
fully finished our work in both cities, and I made some
new friends in law enforcement.
My experiences with the police were not all bad; in
fact there were more positive experiences with them than
negative ones. I realize some of my circumstances and
encounters with the police were of a different nature than
being pulled over for a routine traffic stop, but the two sit
uations I mentioned above were intense and could have
easily become confrontational.
I have been stopped and pulled over by the police
numerous times over the years, and I can honestly say, I
have never been mistreated by a police officer. The fol
lowing tips have worked for me when I have had encoun
ters with police officers in the past. Hopefully they can
help vou too.
?Obey the law: If you are breaking the law in any
way; it's only a matter of time before you have to deal
with the police. Turn on your flashers, drive slowly and
pull over to a well-lit busy area if you are pulled over.
Cooperate if yoti are being questioned or arrested to avoid
any physical confrontation.
?Be polite and show respect: Greeting and treating a
police officer with respect immediately de-escalates the
situation. Regardless of how you feel about being pulled
over or questioned, the police are authorized to do so.
Mouthing off and becoming aggressive toward the police
will make the situation worse.
?Obey police officer orders: When a policeman asks
you to do something reasonable, do it. Remember, these
men and women are trying to do a job, and sometimes
need to gather facts to do their job. Disobeying the police
officer's orders will again only make the situation worse.
?Make lifestyle changes: Most of the things that hap
pen to us are a result of our decisions. Alcohol, outdated
license plates, and erratic driving are a few contributors to
police stops. If you are hanging out late at night with
known offenders, or in places where there is a high prob
ability of a crime, there will likely be a heavy police pres
?Educate your children: Teach your children at an
early age about police brutality, and to be respectful when
dealing with the police, and all adults for that matter.
Explain current events to them in an unbiased way, and
make them aware of the dangers they face if they break the
law, and what can happen to them at the hands of some
It is not my intent to downplay police brutality inci
dents or to be insensitive to anyone who has suffered or
died at the hands of the police. My purpose is to help
African-Americans understand that engaging an officer
properly can de-escalate the situation, and possibly avoid
a deadly altercation.
I am a middle-aged, African-American male who
regrettably has had too many encounters with the police
during my lifetime. I have never been arrested or- beaten
by a police officer, nor have I ever been disrespectful or
mouthed off to one.
I do realize that if a police officer wants to use vio
lence against you, he is going to do it, but I truly believe
it's harder to beat up a person who is polite and compliant.
Try these tips the next time you have an encounter
with the police. It cannot hurt and it may just save you.
Remember, we cannot control a police officer's behavior,
but we can control our own.
Retired Army Sergeant Major Matthew R. Drayton is a
corporate speaker, life coach, consultant, leadership
expert and author of "Succeeding While Black. " He has
also been mentoring youth for over a decade and is cur
rently the Executive Director of Great Oak Youth
Development Center, a NC-based non-profit organization
that mentors at risk youth. For more information, visit
State of Black America: The big eruption
I just fin
ished my read
of the "State
the National Urban League. I read it along
side an article in Science magazine by two
geoscientists at the University of Utah who
have now completely imaged the plumbing
system beneath the bubbling geysers and hot
springs of Yellowstone National Park in
The Urban League described - to
nobody's surprise -- "that black Americans
fares worse than their white peers across a
variety of indicators, including economics,
social justice and overall equality." For near
ly 40 years now, the League's report gives a
high resolution picture of the modest gains
blacks have made In some areas as well as a
very detailed image of the speed things are
moving, how far we yet have to go.
Side-by-side, the Urban League Report
and the study by the U.S. Geological Survey
of Yellowstone's volcanic activity make for
a great allegory. It was 640j000 years ago
when Yellowstone erupted the last time. The
scientists noted that there is now enough
built-up magma in a new reservoir that they
discovered to fill the Grand Canyon if it
were to burst forth today.
An explosion in the neighborhood of the
Old Faithfirl Geyser today would eject 1XXX)
times as much material into the atmosphere
as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, "a
disaster that would be felt on a global scale."
Were the riots of Detroit in 1967 or was
it the eruption of blacks' hot anger in Los
Angeles in April of 1992 when a jury acquit
ted LAPD officers of
beating Rodney G. King, or was the wrath
exhibited in Ferguson, Missouri last fall - or
is it the seething discord following the death
of Freddie Grey in Baltimore this month -
that should inform us of the deeper chamber
of hot, molten despair that is deep within
America's social mantle?
Just as geoscientists have developed, lit
erally, a complete diagram of the plumbing
system of the world's largest volcano, one
that is capable of erupting with catastrophic
violence on a scale never before witnessed,
we also have complete pictures and evi
dence of the crisis in Black America - in
America, period - that has the potential to go
"Bang!" This'month, under the title "1.5
million black men missing," the New York
Times reported that "in New York, almost
120,000 black men between the ages of 25
and 54 are missing from everyday life. In
Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30j000
are missing in Philadelphia. Across the
South ? from North Charleston, S.C.,
through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi
and up into Ferguson, Mo. ? hundreds of
thousands more are missing. They are miss
ing, largely because of early deaths or
because they are behind bars."
If indeed the tectonic plate below
Yellowstone Park is creeping at the rate of
roughly an inch a year, the status of far too
many Black Americas is deteriorating into a
bottomless abyss, a hell on earth. One does
n't have to be scientist to see what is happen
ing and what is likely to happen.
To view the New York Times story
about the missing black men, go to
Dr. Bill Turner is a noted educator,
writer and thinker who called Winston
Salem home for many years. Reach him at
bill-turner? comcast net.