Even if you never liked math, the Census is one place where math can be the BFF for all Latinxs. It is the 10-year mark when everyone in the country is counted. Many have a general understanding of its relevance to Latinxs, but lots more don’t realize that this 2020 Census represents a make-or-break moment for a significant percentage of our community. Here’s why:
Government funding: Federal funding is allocated to states to support hospitals, school lunch and SNAP programs, programs for children, seniors, housing, transportation, community health, and Medicaid. Literally dozens of programs that support the basic needs of low-income people are funded at levels determined by the Census. The more people who participate in the Census, the more funding the residents of California is eligible for. It is in our community’s best interest for all of us to be counted.
Business decisions: Businesses often make decisions based on population demographics. Whether or not a store advertises in Spanish or not will be based on our numbers. Whether stores will opt to sell items that Latinxs need or want will be measured by how large our Census population is. Whether or not businesses determine there is a need to hire bilingual employees will be informed by the number of Latinxs counted in the Census. It is in our own interest to participate in the Census.
Political implications: A whole new level of hurt can result from not being counted when it comes to the 10-year implications of redistricting. The Census is used to redraw state electoral districts. While we in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area are luckier than most in terms of diversity and support for communities of color, displacement and gentrification has resulted in greater uncertainty of who comprises our local electorate. In turn, this leaves us vulnerable to candidates who may not reflect our best interests. If, however, prospective candidates see a large Latinx Census number, they will be far more likely to be responsive to our concerns. Once again, we support our own self-preservation by participating in the Census.
In short, we count on the Census to support some of the health and welfare needs of our communities.
The above three areas work together like a jigsaw puzzle. If we have higher census numbers, businesses listen, Latinx political power is strengthened, and elected officials will be more responsive to funding needs in ways that support our communities. Of course, it doesn't always fit nicely together. However, it doesn't happen at all if our numbers aren't sufficiently reflected. The ball is in our courts.
Recognizing the mighty power that Latinxs can leverage in the Census, federal officials have tried to scare immigrants and DACA members so that they won’t participate.
PLEASE DO NOT FEAR THE CENSUS!
First, the Census is bound to maintain confidentiality by law. It cannot even share data with other agencies, including law enforcement agencies such as ICE.
Second, the Census does not ask about immigration status. This is intended to encourage households to list everyone in your home to get an accurate count.
Third, this cumulative data is essential for organizations like IFR to understand the size of our community, the number of individuals in each household, the number of children in our families, our diverse ethnic backgrounds, etc. It is one of the ways we determine how to be more responsive to your needs.
Are you convinced yet? There is no downside to completing the Census and lots of important reasons to participate in it. If we are not counted, our needs will stay in the shadows.
Nevertheless, communicating directly with one of our federal institutions makes many feel fearful. In one of our next blogs, we will walk you through the various questions to demystify this process.
Until next time, iPa’delante!