Getting counted in the 2020 Census was a critical democratic process. Census data not only affects whether our schools are overcrowded and our neighborhoods get their fair share of resources; it also determines how much representation we get in state legislatures, Congress, and the Electoral College, which is immensely important to our future.
So when news hit that the Supreme Court let the Trump administration shut down the Census prematurely, we were outraged and concerned with the implications of this undemocratic decision.
The Census is a necessary social, economic, and political tool for Black people, which is why it was important for us to do everything in our power to ensure that we are all counted. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the last count missed more than 1.5 million people, particularly people in Black and Latino communities. Just think about how much we missed out on.
Communities that are undercounted get underfunded, which is a huge problem when it comes to basic needs like housing, schools, and health care resources to help us fight COVID. Going uncounted also means our communities are cheated out of the full political representation we need to hold elected officials accountable for their complicity with killer cops and other threats to Black lives.
Real talk: Stopping the count early will exacerbate long standing issues impacting Black communities.
By ending the Census prematurely and shortchanging important data quality processes, marginalized groups are more likely to go undercounted, leaving us with only a fraction of the $1.5 trillion in annual federal funding, resources, and services that help us live. This decision is especially harmful to Black moms and families who need access to grocery stores and parks and recreation services to be as healthy as they can be. Also, many federal programs — like Head Start, SNAP, the Child Care and Development Fund, Special Education Grants, Section 8 Housing Program, Medicaid, and the National School Lunch Program — rely on Census data to determine how much money each community gets.
Being undercounted in this once-in-a-decade opportunity means that billions of dollars that should be spent in our communities would go to whiter and more privileged communities at our expense; this is unacceptable.
The Supreme Court’s ruling to cut our Census count short is a blow to all American communities, but especially to Black and brown people. Amid a global pandemic, this decision will almost ensure that necessary resources and vital assistance will not reach many of the people that need them the most — the same communities who have already been deprived of economic investment and services.
The administration’s insistence on rushing the 2020 Census is yet another attack on Black and brown people. This makes it all the more important that Congress step up and push back the data reporting deadlines to give Census Bureau officials — who’ve already said they cannot produce acceptably accurate census data by the end of December — enough time to perform key data processing and quality checks that will help remedy some of the problems caused by a rushed count.
While we are outraged by the Supreme court’s decision, Color Of Change remains committed to the fight for fair and equal representation. That’s why we’re continuing our efforts to make sure every Black vote counts this election cycle, and beyond. There’s still time to build power, protect our communities, and ensure our voices are heard in every other aspect of our democratic institutions.