©2019 by Women's Access to Empowerment Inc.

 

Count Me In, Literally

A few days ago, I was invited to attend an informative meeting on the importance of being counted in the 2020 census. I expected to find a group of people who were dressed in some sort of census uniform, armed with clipboards, pens and giveaways. WRONG!

I went to a bar in Brooklyn where I would engage with a sea of beautiful, brown people, predominately women, who shared one thing in common; the desire to share facts and debunk myths around the 2020 Census. It was the Count All Queens Event, and the goal was to inform, impact and incentivize all of the attendees to spread the word. As I sat attentive trying to consume all they had to offer, I felt an overwhelming sigh of relief knowing that more women were taking the 2020 Census seriously. A few weeks ago, I had this conversation with my sister-friend Justine,(names have been changed,) about how the lines of funding are greater or lesser based on the amount of people reporting that they actually exist in specific locations. In our discussion, we went on tangents that led us to gentrification, private school vs. public school education, community resources, and financial inequities across the Brooklyn area and what we could possibly do. It's as if  the universe heard the request and *poof, just like that, this event was added to my calendar.

Well, this collection of intellectual people, touched

on nearly the same stuff we were talking about but instead of debating, ladies were dropping gem after gem about how we can get involved in our communities, led with facts that debunk the myths surrounding the census, and presented new ways to understand how race matters. So here are a few things I learned from great speakers, Nicole Yearwood, from the United States Census Bureau-Senior Partnership Specialist; Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq, General Counsel at the Center for Law and Social Justice; Stefanie Zinerman, Brooklyn NAACP Chair, Civic Engagement and Political Action& Census 2020 Lead, and many more extraordinary women.


The 2020 Census


"Social service funding gets reduced when we aren’t counted."- Nicole Yearwood, United States Census Bureau

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community.

An example could be that communities of color may have 5 garbage cans, but newer gentrified communities may have 3x as many.


"Why is saying/checking we are black on the census important?

The census is all about numbers and data. It is not about declaring your identity. It’s about having the number to have resources dispensed.

When we check bi-racial it cuts you out of funding. It also makes it difficult to be counted for representation.


How can the electoral college be impacted if we come together by participating in the 2020 Census?


"The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens." (www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college)



Uggh... more and more questions right. So how do we get more (New York) representatives.?


Well here it is . It always comes back to this Census thingy, that our community unwaveringly, avoids. Members of Congress in both houses are elected by direct popular vote. Senators are elected via a statewide vote and representatives by voters in each congressional district. Congressional districts are apportioned to the states, once every ten years, based on population figures from the most recent Nationwide CENSUS. Ah hah! <-------- There is your answer.


Your representation in each state, is dependent on how you show up in a counted census. Luckily for us, now that you are informed, you can choose to participate in the 2020 Census.


Each decade, the census reveals where populations have risen or fallen. We cannot afford to have our population numbers fall. How then will we acquire the funding needed to improve our communities? Just think of the amount of city blocks in your community that should have those pedestrian cross ramps, so that we don't have to pop up our strollers to cross the streets with our babies. Or perhaps take into consideration the funding for speed bumps to be added in places where multiple accidents have occurred, or streets where our loved ones may have to cross just to get to the park. Our goals should be to reduce or replace environmental inequities that impede our success or make it more difficult for us to live.


How can I participate in the 2020 Census?


This upcoming April 2020, you will be able to\ participate in the 2020 Census in 3 ways, but you do have an extra opportunity to be counted a 4th way.


  • You will now be able to complete the census questionnaire on line, for the 1st time ever. You can even do it from your phone or tablets.

  • You can also do it by phone.

  • You can do it by mail

  • And.. if all of those things don't get an answer, believe that there will be a census-tracker knocking your door and ringing your bell to get you to participate.


"I'm not even a citizen.", "My house has an illegal set-up" , "I'm only here temporarily." "This is not my permanent residence." ......the list always goes on...


Again, it's all about the numbers. Bodies need to be counted. It has nothing to do with your citizenship, your work status, your religion, your sexual orientation, your political party, or your nationality. The number of people that report that they exist(by numbers) the more opportunities we have to acquire more representation for our communities; for our state. Currently we (NY) have 27 representatives. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could increase the number of representatives we have, which would ultimately increase the number of electoral votes we would have as a part of the electoral college?


We need to be aware that the Electoral College has failed to represent the American public five times throughout United States history. In the elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and yes, 2016, a presidential candidate has won the election, despite losing the popular vote. (Catherine, 2019)


It's really not a game. We have the ability to pass along knowledge and teach our newly aged-in 18 year olds that they have the power to finish what we have started. It doesn't take much. I attended an event a few days ago, and was incentivized to pass on the knowledge.


Please help Brooklyn WATE and countless others to get everyone to the point that they are willing and able to be counted. Count Me In! Ask Questions. Seek understanding always, and know that with a commitment to be counted, we can change our current under-representation to letting them know that We Care & We Exist.


For more information on the 2020 census. Please visit www.2020census.gov



(2019). Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html.


Catherine. (2019, September 11). The Electoral College fails to represent the will of the people. Retrieved from https://thedailyaztec.com/95343/opinion/the-electoral-college-fails-to-represent-the-will-of-the-people/.