It’s 2020––another new decade and already the time for another Census count. The 2020 Census comes on the heels of newly released Census Bureau estimates that the U.S. recorded its lowest annual growth rate since 1918, growing by a mere 0.48%. This caps off a decade that showed the slowest 10-year population growth since the first census was taken in 1790.
It’s not surprising to me, given that since 2008 I have personally seen the problems associated with counting immigrants especially, as I led a Carib ID movement to get Caribbean nationals to secure a way to accurately self-identify on Census forms.
Across the broader immigrant communities, the fear, especially for undocumented immigrants, is very real, and many simply determine not to count themselves as ‘present’ on U.S. Census forms because of that anxiety.
Worse, the largely white-owned advertising agencies which receive the multi-million dollar media-buying contracts from the U.S. government––funded by taxpayers dollars––have no real knowledge of the immigrant communities and the media that serve them, and they have no real impetus to ensure these hard-to-reach immigrants actually count.
Why should they? As long as the so-called ‘mainstream’ population counts and the dollars keep flowing to their agencies, there is no reason to bother their pretty little heads, right?
Undoubtedly, this has led to estimates such as those revealed by the Census Bureau late last year and the loss of congressional districts. And the problem is likely to get worse in 2020 when this Census is complete, unless, of course, Democratic congressional leaders in major immigrant populated cities and districts step in and raise their voices, especially since they may end up the biggest losers yet to redistricting.
Pressure must be put on the ad agencies and the administration for more advertising dollars to flow to the immigrant media and toward events that are the trusted messengers of immigrants. It’s one of the only ways to truly count the hard to count in this country.
As is, many immigrant media and those in the Caribbean and Black communities that reach the hard-to-reach and hard-to-count populations of the countries are at risk of being ignored and left out of media buys from Team Y&R and its so-called partnering agencies, who themselves lack the knowledge of these communities and the media that serve them.
That added to the xenophobic actions and the anti-immigrant atmosphere of the Donald Trump administration over the past three plus years is making it hard enough for immigrants to trust counting in the 2020 Census and its starting to look already like a disaster.
There has to be immediate pressure to save this Census and ensure immigrants and people of color count in 2020. The loyal messengers of the immigrant community must be accurately engaged by the advertising agencies with the multi-million-dollar budgets and Democratic congressional leaders––including in New York City and South Florida––must immediately raise their voices for more Census promotional dollars for the Black and Brown media in these United States because your own political future is at risk.
Let’s Stand Up And Be Counted!
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.