It is important for Black people to complete the census “because of how much in the way of resources we have to fight for,” says Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Director of California Policy & Research Initiative (CALPRI).
The 2020 Census will ensure there is an accurate count of California residents. A complete count would determine the number of U.S. House of Representatives seats California will receive. The Census is also used to distribute federal financial resources to local communities. According to the CA Census 2020 website, there are 70 CA federally-funded programs in the areas of education, health, and human services that will benefit from a complete count.
The Fall California African American Policy Priorities Survey (CAAAPPS) suggest that 90 percent of Black voters plan to participate in completing a Census form. Additionally, the poll suggested that 71 percent were more likely to participate in the Census now that it can be completed and submitted online.
Jacqueline Robinson-Baisley, Director of Civic Engagement & Public Policy at the California Community Foundation(CCF) says, “count from the census will dictate federal investment dollars that inevitably will come to Los Angeles county and the state as a whole…the poll tells us that we as the African American community…are aware of the census.”
Some of California’s African American communities are considered hard-to-reach. These factors include but are not limited to “housing conditions, low-income status, citizen and non-citizen status, reliance on languages other than English, mobility, and displacement by disasters. Of particular note are communities of color, children, rural residents, immigrants (including those who are undocumented), LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities” as stated by Counting all Californians in the 2020 Census.
“In terms of outreach…CCF is engaged and invested in the root causes of California’s most vulnerable populations…[including]…African American communities,” says Robinson-Baisley. Despite the challenge of hard-to-reach communities, the CAAAPPS tells us “people want to believe and know they can bring in the resources by virtue of filling out their form,” says Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. The poll suggests that 73 percent of Black voters feel confident that census participation will impact the amount of resources available to the African American community.
Due to California’s diverse population and size, along with the President of the United States adding the citizenship question, there are known barriers to individuals completing the census. As a solution, Governor Jerry Brown has formed the California Complete Count Committee including 25 volunteer community leaders representative of the diversity of CA.
“When you look at a President who actually lost the popular vote but won throughout the electoral college, we can follow the bouncing ball and see how important the connection between census and elections really is,” says Dominique DiPrima, host of the Front Page on Los Angeles radio station KJLH 102.3 FM.
California Policy & Research Initiative (CALPRI) is an African American-focused think tank, polling, voter research, civic engagement, and policy analysis organization. We seek to provide critical input on how pressing state and local public policy considerations impact African American Californians. CALPRI convenes thought leaders and media to inform civic, economic, and cultural dialogues. Our policy areas of greatest focus are equal rights, employment, business development, community safety, criminal justice reform, homelessness, healthcare, education, and the social safety net.