Ensuring a Fair and Equitable Democracy for All
As United Methodists, we can work for a fair and equitable democracy by ensuring all people are counted in the 2020 U.S. census.
The Public Good
Flying through a turbulent summer storm a few years ago, I struck up a conversation with the woman beside me. We talked about our respective work with all of our joys and curiosities. While gripping the arm rest, I listened to her share how she had grown up in a rural town in Texas and had been working for the U.S. Census Bureau for more than two decades.
I was inspired by her unassuming devotion, her insight, analysis and her global consciousness. This dedicated woman, having worked hard to put her daughter through college, is active in her AME Church and community, and is committed to the study and movement of populations in the United States and territories. She sees where population growth is happening; where congressional lines are and might be redrawn; where racial/ethnic communities live and where people move.
I had received a glimpse into her life and work as a devout Christian, a dedicated public servant committed to the commonweal and welfare of these United States. I found her quietly inspiring. I shall never forget her kindness to me and devotion to the public good.
U.S. Census: For a Fair and Equitable Future
The U.S. Constitution (Article I, section 2), mandates that the census count all people residing in the United States. Since 1790, the United States has had some form of a census with the decennial form codified under Title 13 in 1954.
Significantly, unlike other forms of census, the U.S. census is not a tool for taxation, but rather for political representation and distribution of federal government dollars.
In the past, however, the census has historically undercounted minority communities and vulnerable populations.
As recently as the 2010 census, children under 4 were undercounted by an estimated 4.6% nationwide, totaling over 1 million young children. Such a severe undercount impacts how government officials determine federal dollars for a wealth of services including health care, public education, housing, hospitals, and infrastructure.
In the last few years, there were concerns about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire. That question has since been struck down; there is not a citizenship question for the 2020 census. But the concern lingers.
This 2020 census depends upon every person and community reaching out and standing up to ensure a fair and equitable democracy can flourish in the future. For those of us who desire all of God’s people to flourish and be recognized with human dignity, it is imperative that we work together to make sure everyone is counted.
- Pledge to take the census and share on your social media. Join the conversation with the hashtags #faithfulcensus, #hagasecontar, #MakeBlackCount, and #2020Census.
- Organize a community event and invite a census partner to share information with your congregation.
- Offer space in your fellowship hall so that persons can take the census in a safe and accessible place via phone or internet. Census Sabbath Weekend is March 27-29!
- Host census parties and events for your friends, family, and neighbors to learn more about the census and fill out the form together.
Timeline and Other Important Information
In mid-March, households will begin receiving official U.S. Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 census.
U.S. Census responses can be made online or over the phone in 13 languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, and Tagalog.
The Census Bureau also provides support for 59 non-English languages in printed guides, including Braille.
You can also reach the U.S. Census Bureau on the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Line: 1-800-354-7271
By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 census. You will have three options for responding:
- By phone
- By email
For more information related to the 2020 census visit: 2020census.gov.
For support in Spanish, call the NALEO Educational Fund census hotline: toll-free national census bilingual hotline – 877-EL-CENSO (877-352-3676).
Together, we can raise our voices to ensure all people are counted.