With 2020 in full swing, there are a lot of things that young people should be getting ready for. The presidential election is at the top of everybody’s list, but we cannot forget about the census. The majority of young people across the country do not remember the other censuses that were conducted throughout their lifetimes, because the census is held every 10 years. Many weren’t old enough to participate in the last one. For the first time in our lives, we will be filling them out for our own households and ensuring that we are counted in our communities.
You would think that this would be an easy ask for people to do, but many young people don't realize the importance and weight this census truly holds. The census impacts everything around you, even small things that you don’t consider. The Black community is most impacted by the counts reflected in the census. Funding given to our local governments, the lines drawn to determine our voting districts, and many other things are determined by the census. Communities of color specifically face so many layers of oppression daily, and the census is one of the ways we can help combat some of that oppression. We not only need to make sure we are counted, however, we need to try and ensure everyone in our communities is counted so we have direct control of our communities from a legal standpoint.
For far too long, others have controlled what resources we obtain based on the numbers that are recorded in the census. If we aren’t counted, there’s no way to prove that we exist or are within our communities, and that takes away needed resources from us. Communities of color, incarcerated people and the homeless community are the hardest populations to get an accurate count during the census. These communities are most likely to face hardship while being counted or be ignored completely. During the census, it is important that we do our due diligence to ensure our people are counted. We need to remember that when we fight, we win. Together we can fight against a portion of the oppression that we face by ensuring that we are all counted in 2020.
Kyra Mitchell is a member of the Eastern Michigan University NAACP