Across California, grassroots groups looking to amp up census participation among historically hard-to-count communities have hit a snag: how to reach people at a time when many are self-quarantining to stem the spread of the pandemic.
The 2020 US Census is now underway. Data collected in the census is used to determine congressional representation as well as how much federal funding an area receives. My Black Counts is a California-based group seeking to encourage the African-American community to participate.
Throughout the history of the United States, the Black community’s consistent fight for recognition has been an unfortunate and inescapable reality. History is not a precise science, nor an impartial one. Take a glance at a history textbook from past decades, and you will quickly understand that American history was written from the viewpoint of white men.
So much so that your participation in the upcoming U.S. Census will help to shape funding and resources for necessities like healthcare, affordable housing, school lunch programs, jobs and more. Which is why all manner of groups, like Solano-based Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), are getting into the groove to ensure you’re counted.
Black women have good reason to pay close attention to their physical and mental health. Writer and activist Audre Lorde is famous for the quote, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
On Saturday, Feb. 8, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) in partnership with the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA hosted a daylong series of panel discussions titled the “State of Black California” in Los Angeles.
The California Census has joined efforts with these partners in recognition of the need for more effective engagement with the Black population about the 2020 Census count. The Black population has historically been undercounted in past Census enumerations and the state is committed to changing that trend.
Arthur Gailes, an economist and data scientist with UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, sat down with Berkeley News to talk about the census, which is currently under way, and what it means for the future of black voice, black community and black power in California.