Why is the Census important to you?

 In Community, Social Justice

Any day you should receive notice in the mail about the 2010 Census. The official questionnaire will follow the initial announcement one week later in mid-March.

The federal government distributes more than $400 billion a year to state, tribal and local governments based on the decennial Census count. And every ten years some states gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and some lose, depending on what the Census numbers say about the relative sizes of their populations. The changing numbers require states to redraw Congressional District boundaries.

Yet to the despair of social justice advocates, populations that are most in need of community services, resources and civil rights enforcement have also been the hardest to count. In the Bay Area a number of foundations have helped to mobilize outreach in historically undercounted populations by awarding grants to grassroots organizations with extensive reach in their communities.

When it comes to filling out box #9 with regards to race, advocacy organizations will also play a critical educational role to show how individuals can “self-select” by choosing more than one race or “some other race” to identify as multi-racial or by national origin. For example, some might choose to enter Afghan, Sikh, Maya or Haitian. This widely-syndicated article by the Associated Press describes how some Caribbean-American leaders are urging their communities to write their nationalities on the line under “some other race” on the forms, along with checking the racial categories they feel identify them best.

While the way race is counted is an important evolution in the Census, it remains to be seen how the Census Bureau will tabulate the write-in selections in 2011.

Articles and Resources on Census 2010

Grantmaker Initiatives

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