There are very few specific items mandated in the U.S. Constitution. If you haven’t yet read the important document, I strongly suggest you do so. The framers of the Constitution and their unique version of democracy while practicing chattel slavery is definitely worth a read to understand the intent and the promise of this young nation.
One of the specific mandates explicitly stated in Article 1, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution is that we shall conduct an enumeration of the population every ten years. Essentially, the framers of American democracy wanted to be sure we counted all people living in the country. The information collected once the Census is conducted sets the stage for policy and economic decisions for the next ten years.
How district lines are drawn, which communities get money for schools and transportation, money allocated for police and fire departments, and how many representatives are allocated to each state depends on the distribution of the population and how many people are actually recorded living in each state, county, and town. Therefore, if people do not fill out the Census and are not counted, then they and their communities are not recorded and the allocation of resources are not distributed to them.
Currently, the president and his administration are attempting to cut the count of the Census short and conclude the count of the American people on September 30th, one month earlier than originally scheduled. Yes, we are in the middle of a pandemic, but the motives behind shortening the time states have to count their populations is much more sinister. The president and his administration want to end the count of people in America knowing that the harder to count populations are more likely to be people of color, immigrants, and poorer people.
As of last week, only 63% of Americans have filled out the Census and the numbers of New Yorkers and also people of color who have filled out the Census are considerably lower. It is imperative that we fill out the Census and convince members of our community to fill out the Census as well. It is now possible to fill the Census out online at www.2020census.gov.
I understand some people have concerns filling out the Census during this administration, and I don’t blame you. People who have been incarcerated or who live in mixed status households (that is, families who have both documented and undocumented people living in the home) are rightfully nervous to share any information with this administration that traffics in white nationalist and anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments and policies.
If possible, please fill out the Census and if you are unable to do so, please mobilize those around you to do so. We must be counted and our voices must be heard.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.