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Color Conscious Or Colorblind: A Factor in Political Representation

Handout 2: Discussion Texts

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1. "One of the great debates of the near future will be individual versus group rights. It is a debate that must end decisively in favor of the individual. ...The very concept of group rights contradicts the nature of America. America is about the future, about ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ while group rights are about the past. America asks who you want to be. Group rights ask who your grandparents were."

2. "If it is permissible to draw boundaries to provide adequate representation for rural voters, for union members, for Hasidic Jews, for Polish Americans, or for Republicans, it necessarily follows that it is permissible to do the same thing for members of the very minority group whose history in the United states gave birth to the Equal Protection Clause. A contrary conclusion could only be described as perverse."

3. "Put differently, we believe that reapportionment is one area in which appearances do matter. A reapportionment plan that includes in one district individuals who belong to the same race, but who are otherwise widely separated by geographical and political boundaries, and who may have little in common with one another but the color of their skin, bears an uncomfortable resemblance to political apartheid. It reinforces the perception that members of the same racial group—regardless of their age, education, economic status, or the community in which they live—think alike, share the same political interests, and will prefer the same candidates at the polls. ... By perpetuating such notions, a racial gerrymander may exacerbate the very patterns of racial bloc voting that majority-minority districting is sometimes said to counteract. ... This is altogether antithetical to our system of representative democracy."

4. "When Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) ... was a U.S. representative, his district stretched all the way up to Dallas and all the way down to Houston, conveniently offering Gramm two major media markets in which to publicize himself. ... Some of today’s deep thinkers argue that any form of ethnic gerrymandering is wrong. Even if that were true (although it seems to have worked well up until now) I wonder suspiciously why that challenge is being heard now that finally, after years of hard-won victories, it is beginning to benefit people of color? Could it be R-A-C-I-S-M?"

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