Chicago community leaders push for Asian-majority neighborhood as city council considers new map – NBC Chicago


As the deadline approaches for Chicago City Council to approve a new neighborhood map, community leaders are pushing for an Asian-majority neighborhood to reflect the 2020 census.

“For the first time, we have enough residents of over 30,000 on the southwest side to be able to design a compact, contiguous neighborhood that includes at least 50% of Asian Americans in the neighborhood,” said Grace Chan McKibben.

McKibben, executive director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community, said having an Asian-majority constituency would be the first in Chicago’s history.

“What we are asking for is fair representation – both fair representation in terms of political representation in the city,” she said, “but also fair representation, fairly representing the current reality.”

The Latino Caucus discussed its coalition card at the board meeting on Monday. The map shows 35 majority minority neighborhoods, including a neighborhood that unifies the Asian community with an Asian representation of 49%. Right now, this is the only card offered on the table.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a say in city council,” said Chan McKibben. “There is no Asian American alderman, but the advocacy has not stopped.”

An independent group led by Chicagoans released their version of the neighborhood map after receiving feedback from the community. The Chicago Advisory Redistricting Commission’s People’s Map supports a predominantly Asian neighborhood with over 50% Asian representation.

“We have been widely approved for our transparency process and we are currently in the process of seeing if there are any alders who are ready to endorse our map and call this referendum,” said Commissioner Gracie Covarrubias.

Ten aldermen can push the process to a referendum, leaving voters to decide between two proposed cards. Otherwise, 26 aldermen voting yes will approve the card for the next 10 years. The deadline is December 1st.

McKibben said his group and other partners would contact and meet with city councilors in the coming weeks in the hope of securing sufficient support for the predominantly Asian neighborhood.

“We are the only growing Chinatown in North America and then along with so many other Chinatowns whose population is shrinking due to gentrification and other economic factors,” she said. “I think it will be a shining example for the rest of the country if we can do it.”

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