A Changing Landscape: Why Your Count Matters for the 2020 Census
Census 2020 is coming up, and we need your participation in getting an accurate count!
Before I began working on census research at Reviving Sisterhood, I was not aware of what it is and how it’s used. Granted, when the last census was issued 10 years ago I was a clueless middle schooler with no idea of most things I know now — but nonetheless, I am glad to have learned more about the Census and how it can offer communities proper resource allocation and representation.
If you search for top news about Census 2020, you see discussion of concerns such as citizenship and confidentiality. Although the question asking whether an individual is a citizen of the United States has long been left out of the Census, there were talks by the Trump Administration of trying to add it back. However, according to a recent 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, the citizenship question is to be left out of the 2020 Census.
I was very relieved to hear the news, and so were many of my family and friends who are part of communities that did not know much about the census in general. The more I learned about the census, the more I learned that this is a tool of representation.
As a visibly Black Muslim, I am often sticking out like a sore thumb, and I feel that being represented via statistics is powerful in numerous ways.
First, it ensures that people like me are represented as part of the American identity, and that for me is a win in regards to visibility. The landscape of what it means to be American is changing, and this census can be the one to validate that truth.
There is a lot that goes on with the census, and it all dwindles down and affects our communities. Every 10 years, the Census Bureau sends out letters asking for each household to answer a set of questions pertaining to age, demographic, language, etc. This data ensures that resources are allocated correctly and that Americans, from all walks of life, are fairly represented. Much of these resources include billions in federal funding that is allocated to schools, programs, and public services. For example, educational and governmental programs are dependent on an accurate count in order to provide adequate resources for our communities. The Census is also key in politics as it helps control how many seats each state has in the House of Representatives and is important to defining electoral power.
Now that I have learned about why a fair count is important, I have realized why the census is important to me. As a Black Muslim woman, I see the power in being represented on a national level. There is power in numbers, meaning our voices combined create power. This census allows us to direct federal funding so that those in our communities get the funding that they need for school, for transportation, and for housing and food.
Although the census does not take ask about religious affiliation, it is important in showcasing that Americans from any racial, socioeconomic, or geographic background can also be Muslim. In the state of Minnesota, it is estimated that there are about 150,000 Muslims—and growing.
Especially since many Muslims come from underrepresented groups that are already undercounted in the census, our participation is essential in ensuring that our many communities remain visible.
This census can change the outlook of what America looks like. Muslim Americans are part of this community, so it is long past due that we become visible in statistics.
Not only is participating in the census our civic duty, but it’s also our responsibility as American Muslims. Islam promotes civic engagement and participating within our communities, and our Islamic values align with our civic responsibility in this upcoming census. The Qur'an states, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you” (49:13). This is a reminder that we need to recognize the diversity of faces within our Muslim community and engage in promoting that diversity. The census is a powerful tool that will allow us to assist in building our communities. It is our goal to make sure our communities are counted, therefore fulfilling both religious and civic values.
You may be wondering: “How can I be counted for?” The answer is simple. Most residents can reply via the letter sent out early March of 2020, via the phone, or through the newest addition to this year's census — the internet. Since the census is written in our constitution, it is a must to fill out the forms and to present factual information. So, be on the lookout in March and make sure you are part of our next population count!
Since news about the census is constantly coming, follow Reviving Sisterhood for updates regarding possible changes to census questions and ideas about how you can share the message.
I’ve told you why the census matters to me — now I want to hear your thoughts! Tell us what you already know about Census 2020, what you’re concerned about, and how the Sisterhood can best support you.