October 28, 2021
To: Members of the House Redistricting Committee and Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee
Senators and Representatives,
This comment is on behalf of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT), the state’s first pan-Asian organization, established in 2016 specifically to ensure that Asian American communities’ voices are heard in all levels of government.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial demographic in the state and have played an important role in the growth, progress, and desirability of living in North Carolina. We are part of the fabric of this state, and yet, it has taken decades for the pan-Asian community in North Carolina to have the power to uplift the needs of our people. This power is only possible due to the significant growth of Asian Americans in North Carolina’s largest counties: Wake, Mecklenburg, and Guilford. Each of these counties is split into multiple congressional districts, as seen in the proposed maps (CMT-9, CBK-3, CST-2, and CBA-2), which means that Asian Americans will not have fair representation. Even if the Committees ignore racial data and county lines, these maps show no evidence of having taken communities of interest into consideration. One proposed map (CMT-9), for example, divides Wake county such that a subdivision in Cary is split down the middle, without any reasonable justification. The exponential growth in the diverse Asian American population over the last decade has already added value to the state, resulting in another Congressional seat this year. We must ensure that our communities have the power to elect leaders who understand and amplify our needs.
Unfortunately, so far, the legislative redistricting process has not made room for our communities’ voices. The limited number of public hearings in inconvenient locations at inconvenient times with no language access and minimal notice have made it evident that public input is not seen as a priority by the very people whose job it is to represent us.
However, the process is not yet over. We implore the members of these committees to take this last opportunity to be true representatives for their constituents and to reject any draft map that would result in inadequate representation for Asian American communities. This representation, however, must not come at the expense of other communities of color.
Redistricting, both historically and currently, impacts Black communities more than others. Our demand is for fair maps, which provide adequate representation for all of the communities of color in North Carolina. Indigenous and Latinx communities in North Carolina are also facing similar barriers as Asian American communities and equally deserve to be able to elect officials who listen to and represent their diverse and specific needs.
The impact of these maps are critical for communities across North Carolina. We hope you will take our concerns into consideration and enact maps that will reflect the needs of all your constituents.
Chavi Koneru, Executive Director
North Carolina Asian Americans Together