Updated: Dec 21, 2021
The Senate Floor Session on December 16 gave us an opportunity to watch change happen. The matter under consideration was the proposed Senate district map. Resistance was predictable, but not pretty.
New Mexico has a history of racial discrimination in voting and redistricting (Fair Districts for NM). ) This year, with the parallel efforts of the Citizens’ Redistricting Committee and Tribal Leaders, we heard from communities that have historically been left out of the redistricting process. These communities have also been historically underrepresented.
After working for eight months, the Tribal Leaders came to consensus on redistricting. However, the Senate map was amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee without the input of Tribal Leaders. In response, the Tribal Leaders walked out of the Senate committee meeting and publicly expressed their outrage. Proceedings in the Senate stalled for two days while Tribal Leaders met with Senate Leadership. The result was a Senate floor amendment that mostly restored the original map, and was agreed to by Tribal Leadership.
On Thursday evening, Senator Pope commented with wisdom. “When it comes to equality and inclusiveness, there’s not a limit on that.” Senator Pope.
The statement that strikes at the heart of the matter was spoken by Senator Pinto, “See me now, hear me now, I am here.”
We all want to be seen and heard, to have our humanity acknowledged. As Senator Pope suggested, recognition and inclusion of one person or group does not require the exclusion of another.
In the case of the Senate map, we are not just talking about recognition, but also power. The power to have one’s vote matter and the power to be represented.
At the end of the day, the Senate passed an amended bill that had the agreement of the Tribal Leaders. New Mexico made a step toward more inclusive representation.
The questions for each of us to ponder are, when we are confronted with challenges to our position or power, will we have the grace to share willingly? Will we remember that to include others is an expansion of our own humanity? Will we remember that power shared is power multiplied?