We All Count! Count Us All!

By Reverend Damita Davis-Howard, Political Director

With the 2020 Census less than two years away, California is at serious risk of an undercount and losing billions of dollars in Medicaid, SNAP, and Medicare resources as well as a congressional seat.  An accurate count of the U.S. population is used for many important but often overlooked political, economic, and social decisions that will disproportionately affect the daily lives of both immigrant and Black communities as well as the lives of all Californians. 

We live in a society where too frequently one group is pitted against another, often to drive a divide between races in order to continue class privileges. We now see this dynamic influencing the 2020 census with the current racist federal administration intent on adding a question about citizenship.

WE NEED EVERYONE TO ACT to ensure that we all count!

On June 8, the Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau) invited the public to comment on the paperwork associated with the 2020 Census including the question of citizenship. You have until Tuesday, August 7, 2018, to submit comments through this online form or send a direct email to PRAcomments@doc.gov.

The 2020 Census is already expected to be the most challenging census in recent history as the Census Bureau acknowledges that it is particularly difficult to collect data for communities of color, low-income people, unhoused populations, and children. The current climate of fear cultivated by the federal administration along with their proposed citizenship question is a recipe for disaster. These factors will make it more difficult than ever to ensure a complete and accurate count, particularly among the state’s immigrant communities and communities of color.

Many think a question of citizenship is about whether or not you are an immigrant. But the underlying effects of this question go well beyond one’s citizenship status and pounces on those of us who have been historically undercounted since the revolutionary war – namely Black people. Remember we were constitutionally counted as 3/5th of a person primarily for representation in Congress -- but undercounted nevertheless.

This is one of the few opportunities for the public to make its case that the citizenship question should be removed from the census questionnaire. Regardless of whether public comments will move the federal administration to reverse its decision, we need to make our voices heard! Your comments will also establish an important record for the public, Congress and the courts to consider.

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