NASHVILLE, TN — America’s racial and ethnic diversity increased — more people identify as multi-racial and the White majority shrunk — the Census Bureau says as Black leaders focus on political redistricting.
The Census Bureau’s “initial analysis of the first local level results” from the 2020 Census was released Aug. 12. The U.S. Constitution requires equality of representation and a national population count every 10 years to adjust political district lines.
“The controlling party rigged the political maps a decade ago and we’re still dealing with the consequences,” says state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, chair of Tennessee’s Senate Democratic Caucus. “We don’t know what they’ll do, but … we need to be ready for anything.”
State Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, the House Democratic Caucus chair, says “My focus will be on the House district. We’ve got to make sure that we have a transparent process and that everyone is included” as lines are drawn.
While considering who will redraw political district lines, Tennessee House and Senate speakers pledge allegiance to fairness.
State Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, says “We will see changes in all House and Senate districts” statewide “And it’s the prerogative of the majority party to do that.” As vice chair of the House Minority Caucus, Freeman called for “a transparent process that includes the communities wishes in creating these new seats.”
“It’s a 99-piece puzzle” to make House districts equal with “close to 70,000 people per seat,” Freeman said.
Increased diversity is “exciting and a positive trend,” he said, adding it’s “disappointing to see a declining number in African Americans in Davidson County.”
The bureau’s early local numbers show that on Census Day last year, 173,092 Nashvillians said they’re Black. That’s 637 fewer than the 173,729 who reported they’re Black in 2010. It’s a reduction of four tenths of one percent. Nationally, the percentage of Blacks in America was about 0.2% lower in 2020 compared to 2010. Back then, 34% of Americans were people of color. Now they’re 43%.
Census figures show that Nashvillians identifying themselves as biracial, or with a more diverse heritage in 2020, numbered 53,775 which is nearly 244% more than the 15,643 who described themselves as having a racially, or ethically diverse heritage.
“To make matters more complicated,” National Public Radio reports, “research by the Census Bureau has shown that how some people self-report their racial and ethnic identity can change from census to census.”
Davidson County’s population was 715,884, according to the 2020 census; up by 14.2% from 626,662 in 2010. Non-Hispanic Whites are now 57% of Metro’s population; down six percentage points in 10 years.
America’s White population, the bureau reports, remained the majority population group with 204.3 million people identifying as White alone. Overall, 235.4 million people reported White alone or in combination with another group. However, the White alone population decreased by 8.6% since 2010.
America’s multiracial population was measured at 9 million people in 2010 and was 33.8 million people in 2020, a 276% increase.
“Expectations of what it means for a population to be racially and ethnically diverse may differ,” the bureau states. “The concept of ‘diversity’ we use refers to the representation and relative size of different racial and ethnic groups within a population…
“The chance that two people chosen at random are of different race or ethnicity groups has increased since 2010,” the bureau reports.
On the evening of Aug. 14, the U.S. population was 332,632,360 adding one person every 22 seconds, according to a the Population Clock at census.gov.
The 2020 census counted 6.9 million Tennesseans, up nearly 600,000 since 2010.
In 2010, Tennessee’s congressional redistricting plan stopped short of splitting traditionally Democratic Nashville into several districts, the Associated Press reports. “It’s unknown if that will still happen this time around.”
The Equity Alliance in Nashville says “The state’s Republican leadership is considering adding another Republican seat to Congress.”
Bloomberg news reported, “Republicans in Tennessee are looking to expedite the extinction of Blue Dog Democrats by unseating Rep. Jim Cooper.”
The Blue Dog Coalition consists of fiscally responsible pragmatists for mainstream values.
Tennessee has nine members of Congress. Two are Democrats; Steve Cohen in Memphis; and Cooper in Nashville.
To get another Republican in Congress, the GOP “will need to redraw the Nashville district, which impacts the Democratic-leaning area currently represented by … Cooper,” the alliance said in its analysis of census data and the state’s political climate. “And yes, it will impact Black voters who traditionally vote blue.”
The AP reports, the focus is on how the Volunteer State’s GOP-dominated General Assembly will draw new state legislative and congressional district lines across the state.
It’s not just here.
“They’re going to gerrymander the hell out of the map,” says Alek Skarlatos, a Republican running for Congress complaining about Oregon’s Democrat-controlled legislature.