Throwing around blame for the loss of New York’s congressional seat due to the Census undercount would be missing the mark. We should be more concerned about the billions of federal dollars each year for the next 10 years that New York won’t get because the federal government “doesn’t” know those people are here to be served in schools.

On my Facebook page I shared a video from 2016 about a campaign I helped lead called #CountAfricans2020, not to gloat and say “I told you so.” I get no satisfaction from that or very little. But, we need to ask questions about why it was only last year that New York State and New York City started meaningfully funding local groups to get people counted. We better learn from it so we don’t ever allow a situation where our state is denied the billions we are shorted by each year for the next 10 years! Back when I took this video in 2016, our coalition of representatives including Ramatu Ahmed, Ambassador Sidique Wai, and Bakary Tandia were directly asking the Commerce Committee and U.S. Census leadership to set funding aside to better count immigrant groups like Africans who are regularly undercounted. By 2017 all the massive contracts to do outreach and marketing for Census 2020 were distributed with no plan to do the outreach we were asking for. And as we now know, the significant efforts that New York State put in to supplement the U.S. Census outreach was too little too late.

Importantly, our collective New York State government witnessed four years of Trump doing everything possible to promote undercounts in immigrant-rich states like ours by trying to force a citizenship question, reducing time for the counting during the pandemic and other tricks we may never know about. Our folks across offices knew all this was happening and would have effects and didn’t see fit to meaningfully ensure proper counts which now will affect their budgets and effectiveness each year for the next 10 years. That’s where the real story lies, fellow members of New York. This is a major disaster for New York State and if your government official friends aren’t saying much, know that it’s in their collective interests to let this pass quietly.

Some of us have been telling them for five years or so. #CountAfricans2030!