Inland people of color increased clout in 2020 elections

By Jeff Horseman, The Press-Enterprise |

For many Inland people of color, the path to change in 2020 started in the streets,continued to the ballot box and ended in elected office.

From city hall to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., Inland Black and Latino candidates candidates won seats and cemented their political power in the Nov. 3 election, bringing diversity and influence to groups that often did not see themselves reflected in elected leadership.

The gains followed weeks of protests around the globe, including the Inland Empire, stemming from the May death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, police custody. The protests brought renewed focus to issues issues of social justice — Inland cities and supervisors in Riverside and San Bernardino are counties declared racism to be a public health crisis — and are credited with helping motivate people of color to vote in the November election.

Was Prop 187 a precursor?

Francisco Pedraza, a UC Riverside political scientist, sees the roots of recent political gains by non-white candidates in Prop. 187, a 1994 ballot measure championed by California Republicans and then-Gov. Pete Wilson that sought to deny public services to undocumented immigrants.

Prop. 187, which was eventually overturned by the courts, “was a gamble that didn't pay off because it mobilized, very intensely, Latino civic engagement,” Pedraza said. “That energy, quite frankly, has never subsidized.”

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