By Rev. Eddie Anderson

OpEd

The census is important because it says, “You matter. Who you are matters. Where you live matters.” Speaking from my faith, Scripture reminds us by way of the Gospels that proclaiming “I matter” is one of the most powerful acts a human can take.

As the senior pastor of my church in South Los Angeles, I lend my voice for the members of my congregation and remind each of them that they matter. In addition to my ministry, one of the meaningful ways I accomplish this is by serving as a census campaign partner with LA Voice, an interfaith grassroots organization uniting over 55 congregations and over 40,000 community members to encourage our brothers and sisters to be counted on the 2020 census.

Through countless phone calls, virtual town halls, telethons and digital roundtables, our faith-based community is united and working hard to make sure all of our church members are counted.

Why is the census so important for us?

When we participate in the census, we are marking ourselves as “present.” We say,  “I matter. I count. My community matters.” When we are counted, we see better schools andenrichment programs for our children; we see better roads and more funding for our hospitals; we see SNAP and CalFresh funded so people are able to eat especially in times of crisis like today.

We see not only equality, but equity.

For African Americans, many of us can affirm and attribute the increase in resources to us by being counted. Being counted is both a spiritual and political affirmation of our agency and being, even when oppression is rampant. 

We must be counted. We must be counted in a time of crisis.The region of Los Angeles County just surpassed the 50% response rate milestone, but there’s still a long road ahead. Our region, and particularly our African American communities, are expected to be undercounted in the 2020 census. This means millions of dollars can potentially be taken from our communities.

I give you the challenge my mother gave me every day growing up: “show up.” It is up to us to show up for our families, for our church, and for our community. I urge you to tell your neighbors. Tell your church members. Tell your friends. Tell your community members to take on the pledge to fill out the census and say “I matter. I count. My community matters.”

Everyone must be included. We all have to come together. Combining resources and partnerships between organizations and people are of utmost importance. Our nonprofit organizations, local businesses and our faith community must all work collectively to spread this message far and wide, especially among our African American communities.

All throughout the Bible, God recounted the importance of being counted. Moses counted the people so he could help them and distribute resources equally and equitably. It is our turn to follow in these footsteps and make sure funding and resources for our communities are distributed equally and equitably.

The only way we can do that right now is by taking the time to fill out the census.

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.

Help spread the word on why the census is so important. Tell your neighbors, your family, your relatives and your church members. Even as we remain sheltered in place and continue to live our lives in this new environment, we have an important opportunity to work through our faith together for an accurate count.

Complete your census today and proclaim “I matter” powerfully and with joy.