The 2020 Census is upon us and we want to make sure everyone is accounted for! You may have some questions about what the Census entails and why the heck you have to do it. We are here to break it down for you:
What even is the census? Put simply, it’s just a big head count of everyone in the country. The Constitution mandates this count happen every 10 years.
Who fills out the census? Do college students fill it out? If you live in a dorm at your school, no worries, your school will count you. If you live in an apartment or home by yourself, with roommates, or with your family, you fill it out with your household. You only need to fill out one census form per household.
How do we fill it out? There are three ways to respond to the 2020 Census, which is dope because it is more confidential than ever. Invitations to respond to the 2020 census should be delivered between March 12-20 (Check your mail for once, maybe send someone a postcard idk.) It will only take 10 minutes! Once you receive the invitation to respond you can: fill out the information and mail it back, call the number on the invitation, or follow the website on the invitation to respond. Respond ASAP to avoid a census taker showing up to your door.
Soooo what’s the point of counting us? Well it determines a lot of things. In technical terms, it ensures accurate representation determining how many representatives each state receives from the U.S. House of Representatives. It accounts for population shifts and determines how districting lines are drawn in your community. It also determines the distribution of $675 billion based on this data – that’s billion with a B.
How is this info used? It’s within the law that this information be confidential and only used to produce statistics. These statistics are used for community initiatives, legislature, and local folks like home builders. It also determines the funding each state receives for healthcare, housing, education and more. Dollars that are critical to take care of our community, especially the most vulnerable. It really does impact everyday life for the next 10 years. We gotta get that coin.
What happens when people are unaccounted for? You may think the census does not affect you, but these statistics determine a decade of policies and resources for your state, city, and inner communities. The people most often unaccounted for are POC, lower income, and young people. We can’t help our communities when we don’t know where they are.
Do you have to be a citizen to fill out the census? No! Not at all! The census is to account for EVERYONE living in the country, citizen or not.
Are undocumented people at risk if we respond? We understand why the undocumented community would fear responding to a government count. Your fears are valid, but it is illegal for this information to be used against you. And this year the 2020 Census can be done online, making your information even more confidential than mailing your answers back. No one should have to live in the shadows of society, the census helps know what immigrant communities look like, where they are, what they need and how we can help them through community organizing and policies. Efforts by the Trump administration to put a citizenship question on the census failed. But that’s right now. Knowing where and how to organize creates more community power to continue thwarting attempts like this.
Will any of this information be used against me? No ma’am! By law, census answers cannot be used against you. Not by the government, the courts, or any government entity. The Census Bureau is required to ONLY use this information to produce statistics.
How does this affect Texas? Texas is a big state that is becoming more young and diverse every day. Not responding to the census not only does a disservice to ourselves, but it’s a disservice to our neighbors and our surrounding communities. When the information is inadequate it hurts our most marginalized populations. Funding is off and Texas’ already pressing gerrymandering issue finds more reason to exist using it to redistrict in minoritized communities. Help each other out and respond to the census and urge your friends and family to do the same.