By Isi Frank Ativie
The 2020 U.S. Census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau is underway, and we need to participate! By answering the census questions accurately, African-Americans can help government authorities address social and economic issues that are occurring in our communities.
The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for communities across the United States.
Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.The results of the census are also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. These results also determine how much federal funding goes to a state.
Gathering information particularly from the African-American community will help the Bureau determine how much money in federal funds should be appropriated and distributed during a 10-year period for the above public services in the Black community.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has always used strong efforts to gain economic and constitutional power. And given that the census determines congressional districts, members of the CBC are claiming that the Bureau is undercounting African-Americans.
There are myriad reasons why African-Americans have been undercounted by the Census since the late 1700’s. However, in modern society, the lack of participation from Black communities is one of the main reasons why both adults and children have been undercounted.Some think that this underrepresentation is due to the fact that many African-Americans have various home addresses and multiple family structures, making these numbers hard to capture.
This dilemma is affecting Black communities, as they haven’t been receiving the accurate amount of federal funding allocated to the resources mentioned above. To set these numbers right so that they are beneficial to the Black community, we strongly encourage our local communities to participate in this serious undertaking.
The CBC and another outreach organization, Data for Black Lives, both provide leadership to African-Americans to help them build resources financially. Data for Black Lives seeks to mobilize a coalition around racial justice issues, by building a network of more than 4,000 scientists and activists who are committed to using data to create measurable change in the lives of Black people and to encourage census completion.
Community leaders like Pastor Olivia Johnson of Generational Blessings Family Worship Center knows the importance of the census. “African-American participation in the census is paramount in ensuring that desperately needed resources are maximally allocated to our communities,” Johnson said. “Failure to participate is not only a disservice to our forefathers who sacrificed their lives for our right to be counted, but also broadens the socio-economic gap, contributing to the poverty crises in our communities, as a result of unnecessary loss of funding simply due to the lack of African-American interest in participating in the census.”
The U.S. Census Bureau recently launched a new online map as part of its 2020 Census Response Rate Challenge — where state, local and community leaders work together to promote a complete and accurate count by increasing the self-response rate in their community.
The preview map currently displays 2010 Census self-response rates as a reference point for states, counties, cities and census tracts around the country. Users will be able to use the map to track their community’s progress in responding to the 2020 Census. To view the map, visit https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html.
This year’s census should generate every African-American’s interest about demographic adjustments in the nation. It may seem like a lot of work, but the few minutes required to fill out the form will greatly help Black communities.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all participants should receive the Census questionnaire in their mailbox. They should complete and mail them back to the U.S. Census Bureau’s address. For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/v9jx3bl.
Crusader reporter Elaine Hegwood Bowen contributed to this article.