“I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.”Shirley Chisholm
Art by: Kristin Reed
Every 10 years, the constitution of the United States of America requires that every single person living in this country be counted, everyone. It is not merely a head count, it is the basis of our democracy and it informs and influences our lives. As a cultural community we can play a special role to make sure that the communities that we care about are counted in the 2020 census.
Why is this important? The census determines how funding resources and political power are distributed across every corner of this country, including New York City. It helps determine how congressional seats are allotted to each state as well as how state and federal funds are distributed to health programs, social security benefits, mass transit, and schools, including arts education and after school programs. In short, the census affects our lives in more ways than we may realize. In order to do all of these things equitably, the census needs to be accurate.
Nevertheless, in 2010, the self-response rate in New York was 62%, while the national average was 76%. In some neighborhoods, self-response rates were as low as 35%. Typically, immigrants, people of color, small children, renters, low income people, the undocumented, and people who move around a lot have been hard to count. When we are undercounted, it means less funding and less representation for all of us for the next 10 years. This is why we need to make sure that every single New Yorker is counted for the 2020 census.
Our organizations work in all five boroughs and have authentic and sustained relationships with many community members that are “hard to count.” As artists and cultural organizations, we can make a positive difference by encouraging all of our community members to fill out the 2020 census and be counted. There are many ways you can easily get involved.
What can you do?
- Share this link to the 2020 Census online.
- Sign up as a NY Counts 2020 partner to receive resources and information about census trainings and events.
- Sign up for “Text Out the Count,” a peer-to-peer texting tool you can use to encourage your fellow New Yorkers to fill out the census.
- Acknowledge and then help dispel fears. Here is a resource to respond to false rumors about the census.
- Amplify the message on your social media and website. ABNY has several resources and We Count LA has a toolkit that can be adapted.
- Consider embedding the census day countdown on your website.
- April 1st is Census Day, hold an event to encourage your community to fill out the census. Census Day toolkit from State Voices.
- Announce the census at all of your March – June events.
- Create and distribute artwork that draws attention to the census.
- Distribute census literature at your community events. You can find information in multiple languages at New York Counts 2020.
- Collaborate with groups doing work in historically under counted communities, such as those supported by the Complete Count Fund and NY Counts 2020 partners.
- Join your Neighborhood Organizing Census Committee
- Follow @uscensusbureau and spread the word about how the census is easy, safe and important by sharing news, data products, fact sheets, and infographics.
- Add a “Counted!” filter to your social media profile here!
- General Census Information for NY
- Official Census Webpage
- Official Census Logos and Images
- Resources for Black Communities
- Resources for Spanish Speaking Communities
- Resources for Immigrant Communities
- Resources for Arab American Communities
- Resources for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities
- NY Resources About the Census
- Official Videos About the Census
- Important dates about the census (official Census website)
This is the first piece in a series of original writings, videos, and interviews on the themes of mapping, understanding place, and celebrating the value of our localities. In this new time of public health and economic crisis, we hope that this series will help you feel connected to and in solidarity with your local community. Over the course of the next several weeks, the series will explore how both data and interpersonal relationships form the basis of how a place is understood, by those who live there and those who do not, and how art and creativity can impact that understanding. Follow the series on our blog.