“Regardless of place or profession, the Census affects everyone. It influences our country’s political landscape as the primary determinant for equal representation, the distribution of federal funding, and private and public community investments.” — Regan Gruber Moffitt, Chief Strategy Officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
However, when one thinks about the role that the Census plays in our country, racial equity is likely not the first thing that comes to mind.
This is why it is more important than ever to make sure all of our residents, especially our non-white neighbors are counted.
Understanding Race Data
In fact, the United States Census Bureau’s website states that “race data are used in planning and funding government programs that provide funds or services for specific groups.”
The Census Bureau website also mentions that they use race data to “evaluate government programs and policies to ensure that they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all racial groups.”
However, according to a recent report by Georgia Counts, as many as 177,000 Georgia residents may be undercounted in 2020 and Georgia’s self-response rate is currently 3.6 points behind its final 2010 rate.
Undercounted populations are also referred to as “hard to count” and traditionally include non-white residents. In Georgia, about 33% of our population identify as Black or Black mixed race, 9% identify as Hispanic, 5% as Asian, and 1% as Native American.
How Race Data Helps Communities
The Census Bureau’s main goal behind collecting race data is to ensure equal opportunity for communities of color by helping “governments and communities enforce anti-discrimination laws, regulations, and policies.”
For example, racial data is used to:
- Establish and evaluate the guidelines for federal affirmative action plans under the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program.
- Monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and enforce bilingual election requirements.
- Monitor and enforce equal employment opportunities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Identify segments of the population who may not be getting necessary medical services under the Public Health Service Act.
- Allocate funds to school districts for bilingual services under the Bilingual Education Act.
How Race Data Helps Promote Progress
The collection of race data helps researchers, advocacy groups, and policymakers to understand changes to our society over time.
This data helps them to understand whether or not “people of different races have the same opportunities in education, employment, voting, and homeownership.”
While the implementations of race data are endless, these are just a few examples of how race data helps promote societal progress:
- The National Science Foundation uses these data to provide information on people of different racial backgrounds in the science and engineering workforce.
- Several federal agencies use these data to investigate whether housing or transportation improvements have unintended consequences for specific race groups.
- Data on race are used along with age and language data to address language and cultural diversity needs in healthcare plans for the older population.
How To Do Your Part
But, in order to create the most racially equitable society, we ALL must do our part not only to take the Census ourselves but make sure our neighbors do too.
There are three ways to fill out the 2020 Census, each of which can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Recently, the deadline for the 2020 Census was MOVED UP to September 30 from October 31. It will be here before we know it.
Do your part. Fill out the Census. Let’s create a better, more equitable society for every one of us.