Census 2020 Community Blog

by Kourtney Woodbury | Resource Development Director of KC, CIS of Mid-America

You matter! 

This sentiment has been the calling card for the recent decennial Census. You are more than a headcount. You are considered “allocated dollars” that address social needs. Your participation in the Census apportions legislators for state and federal offices. It also puts money in public infrastructure, emergency preparedness and response resources, schools, safety net clinics, and so much more.  

Your participation in the Census accounts for more than $675 billion that flood into communities across the country. The Census is a tool that every person, citizen, and non-citizen can wield to help shape a decade of investments in depressed rural areas and urban centers.  

Why does this matter?  

Because appropriations are interconnected to the Census count, it is essential for the federal government to fully support and supply the Census Bureau with every available tool for all residents to be counted. For example, if there is not a full count of all residents in 2020 (like in the 2010 Census), it could result in the loss of $20,555,355 for 16 federal programs in Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, MO, an urban area served by Communities In Schools of Mid-America.

Intersectionality of Race and the Census?

The intersection of race and the Census is vital to understand. Historically, the Census has undercounted, misrepresented, and or falsified people of color. In the case of the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, which allowed blacks (slaves) to be counted as three-fifths of a person, America has fallen short of its intended purpose set forth by the Constitution to count all people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or servitude. In the 1940 Census more than one million Black residents were undercounted, while white non-Hispanic children were over-counted (Hale, 2020).  In the last Census, 9% of Black people in the U.S. were missed, a rate higher than any other racial or ethnic group (Hale, 2020)., Those missing data points equate to missing dollars.

There are various reasons why this occurs. Some people are hard to locate. Others distrust the government. Questions about race and ethnicity are often misunderstood. If left unmarked, the Census default response to the race (and gender) question is “white” and “male” – the Census Bureau disputes this claim, however. Though race is not real and exists only as a social construct, it’s part of our reality and often determines how we engage with the world and how the world engages with us.

Is it too late? 

If you’re reading this post, it’s not too late. On April 13, 2020, the Census Bureau asked Congress for four months of statutory relief to safely extend self-response deadlines and provide census results for apportionment and redistricting. With their request for extensions, the 2020 Census field operations will begin June 1, 2020 and the self-response deadline will extend to October 31, 2020; apportionment counts will be delivered by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data will be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021.

You can complete the questionnaire by phone, online, or by mail. A modest time commitment of 15 minutes or less will significantly increase funding for services that promote the highest good for the most considerable number of people.

Concluding Thought

Albeit, the Census is innately flawed, it is a transformative exercise with great promise to disrupt negative trends in American society and her territories.

Citations

Hale, Kori, “Being Undercounted in the U.S. Census Costs Minority Communities Millions of Dollars”, Forbes, March 24, 2020.

Salazar, Cristian, et. al., “Black Undercount Found in 1940 Census Records”, The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 20, 2012.