NY State Rep defends comments about reclaiming congressional seat for her race

Does District 13 belong to Black people?

NY State Rep Inez Dickens, who represents Harlem, recently gave a speech complaining that a Dominican immigrants holds NY’s District 13 Congressional seat. She says the district was “carved out for a Black” and that Black people need to take it back.

District 13 was gerrymandered into an overwhelmingly Democrat district in 2012. Previously it had been a swing district that narrowly voted in favor of McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

It was only 27% Black at the time. It is about 25% Black today. However, a long-time Black incumbent, Charlie Rangel, found himself living in the new district. At one time, Charlie Rangel represented a district that was majority Black. Today, there are no longer any majority Black districts in New York City because of mass immigration into the city.

A Dominican immigrant, Adriano Espaillat, nearly beat Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic Party Primaries. Then Rangel retired in 2016 due to health problems and mounting ethics scandals. In the 2016 Primary, Espaillat beat Keith L. T. Wright, a high-profile Black politician in the area who hoped to replace Rangel.

After a video of Dickens’ speech was circulated, she issued a statement saying she supported Espaillat but hopes that the district will again have a Black congressman in the future. Dickens also repeats the false claim that District 13 was specifically created to be a Black-held district.

Currently, Blacks remain overrepresented in New York congressional seats. They make up about 14% of the population of the state, but 19% of the state’s congressional seats.

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