April 5, 2009

Will 2010 Census Count All People of Color?

Villagers, did you know that we are less than a year away from the 2010 Census? This decennial count, mandated by US Constitution, of every single person in America is never easy, but this census has several unique challenges:

  • The rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric, and heightened immigrant enforcement activities, have created real fear and distrust of the government;
  • The foreclosure crisis and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have displaced millions of people, making it hard to do an accurate count; and
  • As the first census after 9/11, the Census Bureau will have to deal with Americans’ privacy concerns about how their information is used

An undercount of the people of color who comprise a third of our society means a failed Census. As you know census data are used to determine representation in the House of Representatives and where district lines are drawn within each state. Census data is also used to decide how $400 billion in federal funds are distributed to state and local governments each year. This money builds roads, schools, and hospitals.

A number of Black bloggers participated on a conference call to discuss these challenges with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and census experts who represent some of the hardest communities to count.

Some of the pre-read material for the conference call included a transcript (here) and two PowerPoint presentations (here and here) from a recent event at The Brookings Institution.

Here is a list of the panelists that talked with our Black bloggers on the conference call earlier this week:

  • Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), leads a coalition of civil rights organizations that will be working on-the-ground in regions with some of the highest percentages of undercounted communities in an effort to boost response rates of communities of color in the 2010 Census.

  • Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, is a nationally recognized expert in Latino demographic trends and the census. Next week, NALEO will launch a campaign, ya es hora, to motivate Latinos to participate in the 2010 Census.

  • Terry Ao, director of the Census and Voting Programs for the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), is a noted Census expert, has testified before Congress on the issue, and sits on the U.S Department of Commerce’s 2010 Census Advisory Committee as a permanent substitute advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The US Census is hiring over 500,000 workers to deal with this process. I encourage villagers to apply for these positions if you are unemployed or underemployed.

Kevin Ross (3 Brothers and a Sister) and I encouraged the US Census officials to use bloggers to help market the census with paid advertising ... not just public service announcements.

Anyhow, it was an interesting conference call. It is nice to see that organizations like LCCR and NAACP are reaching out to Black bloggers. What are your thoughts on the upcoming 2010 Census?


msladyDeborah said...

Hotep Villager!

The data collected from the census will determine how and where our tax dollars are sent and spent. So it does matter that we are represented.

It is becoming more obvious that AA's are going to need to become more vocaland involved on the subject of immigration.

We have our folks coming to America from the Motherland and the Caribbean Islands. So it is not just soley a Latino v. American attitude problem.

The information on how to apply for a job for the census is available on line. There is a sample copy of the Civil Service Test. In my home town they are already hiring people to work in the offices located here. The gig also includes benefits! So this might be of major help to someone who is looking for a job.

Unknown said...

Lady D - I rec'd a message from a brother here in Cincinnati who wants to discuss business opportunity with US Census. I have no idea what the content of the discusson will be ... but, it is nice to see an online blog post lead to a 'real world' opportunity.

I provided some links for Census employment. 500k jobs is a lot of jobs!

Monica Roberts said...

My first summer job was as an enumerator for the 1980 census count.

We also need to advocate for the census counts taken in prisons to be added to the prisoners home cities, not the county the prison is in.

Since congressional, state legislative and state senate districts use population counts to determine who gets those districts, we need to be fighting hard for prison pop counts to be included in the prisoners home cities, not the county the happen to be doing time in.

There are counties with prisons that are getting political representation and funding in excess of their actual population they really should be getting.

Unknown said...

Monica - First time that I considered the impact of census on prisoners and the places where prisons are located. I wonder if this issue is being reviewed for 2010 Census?

Monica Roberts said...

I think the CBC is pushing that issue. They are also considering using statistical sampling to ensure an accurate count

Unknown said...

Monica - It will be nice to see the CBC doing something that is relevant...