(click for the first and second installments)
3. Please describe your appreciation for California's diverse demographics and geography, as discussed in Regulation 60805. You may include with this description any occupational, academic, volunteer, or other life experiences you have had that demonstrate this appreciation.
California, at least as much as any state in this Union, was built on a variety of peoples. A long coast and an international border means we've a long history of welcoming those from climes other than the rest of the US. That said, I'm using a pretty liberal definition of the word "welcome" --- it seems a bit overstated to describe our history of welcoming as welcoming.
Days of separate school are passed. At the school I know teach at, the State of California records American Indians (0.3%), Asians (17.8%), Pacific Islanders (0.6%), Filipinos (2.3%), Hispanics (21%), African Americans (36.3%), Whites (18.4%) and the ever-mysterious Others (2.9%). Of course these categories themselves can mislead us into simplified the cultural diversity of the state. For a Chinese-American whose great-great-great-grandparents arrived in San Francisco in the 1860s to have the same categorization as a child just arrived from Laos is to miss the true diversity our state proudly exhibits.
Integrated schools were not a panacea though; human society is as subject to entropy as any other system and it requires a constant input of energy to maintain the openness and equality we have --- to say nothing of improving upon prior successes.
Which is why this redistricting project is so important. Having representation reflect the people represented mattereth much.
From when I lived in large cities of Korea to when I kayaked the Kern river --- from when as a child I saw my grandfather's rural Idaho ranch destroyed to when I went with my mother to purchase unguarded grapes from a farmer's garage refrigerator in Clovis --- from riding BART under the Bay to picking up a hitchhiker heading to Lake Isabella --- inside California and out, I have tried to be open to others' stories.
As a reporter, I interviewed my town's Sacramento representation. At the time, I was already writing columns about the need for districting reform. But my state senator told me I was nuts. That the rancor of the current system only seemed dysfunctional. That he and his fellow hyperpartisans must necessarily represent the people of California better than those who had to listen to their constituents in order to get elected. Madness.
Politicians must listen to those they represent.
But first the redistricters must listen so that the people will be fairly represented.