It's been awhile since we talked about black folks ain't what they used to be. It feels like it's about that time. Here's the Times on congressional redistricting in Harlem. As it happens, the neighborhood has been carved up in such a way that black politicians will have to actually, like, compete:
In the decades since, the so-called Harlem seat has been held by only two men, Mr. Powell and the man who unseated him in 1970, Representative Charles B. Rangel, each of whom became among the most influential African-American voices in the nation's capital, representing a neighborhood known as a center of black arts and culture, scholarship and struggle."Their lore was that they spoke for black America, they spoke for Harlem, and they spoke for the Harlems all over this country," said David A. Paterson, the former New York governor and a Harlem native.But as demographic change has altered the makeup of Upper Manhattan -- Harlem has become less black and neighborhoods around it more Hispanic -- black politicians are concerned that they might lose this prized pulpit. Under new boundaries imposed by a federal court as part of the reapportionment process every 10 years, the district has been extended into the Bronx, and more than half of its population is now Hispanic. In the Democratic primary,Mr. Rangel faces challenges from a Dominican-born state legislator, Senator Adriano Espaillat, who argues that it is time for his community to be represented in Congress, as well as from two African-American candidates: Clyde Williams, the former national political director for the Democratic National Committee, and Joyce Johnson, a former local Democratic district leader.Mr. Rangel, 81, is well known and has organizational and fund-raising advantages heading into what is expected to be a low-turnout June 26 primary -- and the primary will probably be decisive in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. But the race is likely to be tough, not only because of changing demographics and boundaries, but also because Mr. Rangel has faced ethics charges and health problems. And, whoever wins this year, some black civic leaders worry that a black candidate would not be a lock to win the seat whenever Mr. Rangel leaves office.