Amy Elkins
Tanya A. Christian
May, 17, 2018

As organizers across the nation fight tirelessly to effect change in a country led by a man who once asked the Black community, “What do you have to lose?” Alicia Garza, a cofounder of Black Lives Matter and the special projects director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, seeks to address that very question. She’s the principal of the advocacy group Black Futures Lab, which recently established the Black Census Project

By August 1, the initiative aims to receive input from 200,000 Black Americans on the issues that matter most to us and our communities. By collaborating with Color of Change and their partners, they hope the survey reaches Black people of all faiths, backgrounds, and socioeconomic standings. Questions touch on a range of topics from politics to housing to healthcare. The goal is to use the collected data to help form public policy that allows our people to prosper. 

According to the Black Census Project website, the last time Black Americans were surveyed in such large numbers was more than 150 years ago during Reconstruction. At that time the U.S. government’s aim was to get insight on how to best integrate former slaves into broader society. This new survey comes at a time where the country is gearing up for the 2018 midterm elections. 

Garza and partners believe that having empirical data on the thoughts, feelings, and needs of Black Americans, politicians—who in the past have largely ignored the issues facing our community—can better serve us.

In a statement launching the project, Garza said, “If we’ve learned anything from this past election, it’s that Black folks drive the progressive political power in this country but rarely benefit from the fruits of our labor,” adding on the official website, “Black people have always played a role in unlocking the promise of an America that has not yet been realized, and if there was ever a time to tap into that power—it’s now.”

For more information, and to participate in the census, visit blackcensus.org.

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