By Kirk Samuels, OpEd We Count Los Angeles
An accurate census count is vital to all of us, but in the current moment it is even more critical for our Black communities across Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County region has reached a 50% response rate to the census. While we’ve crossed the halfway mark, which is a point of celebration given the global coronavirus pandemic that is gripping our community — we still have a long road ahead. We need every Black resident of Los Angeles County to join this journey now more than ever. But why does the census matter?
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts every person living in the United States —regardless of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, or age. Data from the census helps determine where billions of dollars go to for federal resources that are directed to our communities such as hospitals, parks, schools, and affordable housing programs across Los Angeles. More than 60% of census funding goes to public health programs that receive federal funding like WIC, SNAP, Medicaid/Medicare and community health centers. These are the programs and services that are serving as a lifeline during this unprecedented moment of crisis.
As the coronavirus is impacting our Black brothers and sisters at a disproportionate rate, responding to the census is one small, yet important action that each and every one of us can
take in the recovery process by ensuring adequate public health and social services go to our
communities for the next 10 years.
Historically, Black people in America are accused of being a “hard-to-count” population. We rarely consider the multitude of systemic barriers and obstacles the Black community has to
face in order to participate in civic practices, particularly the census. During the inception of the census in 1790, Black people were only counted as 3/5 of a human in order to preserve political power for Southern White plantation owners. After 230 years of systemic oppression, Black people continue to experience despair that causes major inequities for the entire community. Unstable living conditions, along with the lack of access to high- speed broadband Internet, and a host of other issues facilitate disproportionate obstacles for the Black community to be accurately counted.
Our community is aware of these discrepancies, but this year presents a unique opportunity for us to do something different. We have a chance to collectively advocate for full political
representation and equitable funding for our communities.
A Stronger Los Angeles Depends on an Accurate Black Census Count — Page Two The “Shelter at Home” order enables us to contact high numbers of people in the Black community because most people are available due the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s more important than ever that we engage the Black community to assure we have the resources we need not only to survive, but to thrive and live whole lives.
Making up over 9% of the total population of Los Angeles County, spanning every corner of
4,000 square miles and 88 cities, the Black communities of Los Angeles can and deserve to be counted accurately on the 2020 census.
As we grapple with how we move past the current coronavirus crisis, our communities will be
changed in the aftermath of it all. It is up to us to empower one another in playing a role, no
matter how small, in shaping what our communities will look like for the next 10 years. Play your role now: complete your 2020 Census form today.
Completing your form is simple. It’s fast. It’s safe. Complete your census online at my2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail if you received a paper form. Your
responses are protected by the law and cannot be shared with other government agencies and organizations. For example, your landlord cannot get access to your responses. Count everyone living in your household and don’t forget young children. Help spread the word on why the census is so important. Tell your neighbors, your family, your relatives and your friends. Even as we remain sheltered in place and continue to live our lives in this new
environment, we have an important opportunity to work together to create flourishing communities for every Black Angeleno.
An accurate census count of our community will build a future that is stronger, healthier and more representative for all of us.