The Census is the Most Important Thing in 2020

... and, it seems, we're not doing a damn thing about it

Publisher’s Riff

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The three most important actions every American resident should take in 2020 are the following:

  • file taxes

  • vote

  • take the Census

Arguably, the most important of those three activities is full participation in the Census. This task is one of the most crucial, if not the most crucial, life-and-death or existential imperatives for Black people in the United States.

And, yet, there’s little noise being made about it. Collectively, Black communities are talking more about Colin Kaepernick’s beef with the NFL and Byron Allen’s lawsuit against Comcast than they are the Census - the latter which they have much more direct control over than the first two issues.

It’s easy for a topic as wonkish and technical as the Census to lost in the issue mix. After all, there’s so much else to talk about. But, it’s tragic and telling that the only time it has been a big deal is on the question of a “citizenship” question in the Census questionnaire. That question was settled - but, it had little to do with the much more egregious and dangerous possibility of yet another massive undercounting of the U.S. Black population. The Urban Institute projects an undercount of the national Black population as high as nearly 4 percent.

This is serious. The Constitution - Article 1, Section 2 - mandates a full count of all residents in the United States. Yet, since it’s start in 1790, the federal government has looked for every opportunity it could find to make the Black population in the U.S. as invisible and as powerless as possible through the decennial (every 10 year count). It’s done this through a variety of sinister methods over the centuries. Fighting back against this systematic effort simply requires a massive effort to ensure every last Black resident in the United States takes the Census - a very free (no-charge, no-fee), 10-question activity that shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes out of a person’s day. Where’s the outrage and where’s the movement?