By Adrian Villanueva
“Shape your future. START HERE.” – Census 2020
Did you know that you count? Have you participated in a census before? Do you know what it means to be counted? Why is it so important to fill out the Census 2020?
A whole decade has passed since the last nationwide census, meaning that it’s time to fill it out again and make sure that you and your family are counted. The census serves to account for the people in the country and to allocate funds appropriately to education, medicaid, and different benefit programs in the country. This is especially important for low-income, struggling neighborhoods, where many of the residents rely on these programs to better provide for their families, this is an alert to the south and west sides of Chicago. As a city mostly made up of POC, at 67.2% (per a 2019 estimate by the Census Bureau), Chicago needs to better represent itself, only by having our people fill out the census can we have the proper funding for the city and all of its residents.
It is absolutely necessary, because by filling it out we are able to tell our government how much money needs to be set aside for our schools, our parks, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, Medicaid, and also allows for our state to have proper congressional representation. Have you asked yourself why there isn’t a clinic near you? Or why there’s very few parks in the area? Have you had a nearby school shut down? What about food desert areas? You may not think that it counts, but doing your civic duty can make a lot of difference in the quality of life within the neighborhood you live in. And who wouldn’t want to have a nice neighborhood to live in?
This year, due to the pandemic, the way that the census is done has changed. To begin, door to door census representatives were supposed to start in April, but because of the virus it couldn’t happen. Of course, there was a solution to this, allowing the people in this country to fill out the census online or via mail. Did you ever receive your form? This option was safer and quicker than having someone come to your door to have you complete the census. In fact, as of May 27, the Census Bureau saw an online response rate that was 9.2% higher than the projected numbers they had expected.
Although online responses have been better than the Bureau originally thought, there are still well over 56 million households that need to respond to the census to get an accurate read of the population within the country and its territories. Many adult or senior members of our latino communities may not be familiar with technology, and therefore have not been counted yet. What can we do?
In order to help reduce the number of unresponsive households, the Census Bureau has finally (as of August 11th) decided to dispatch their field employees to get the responses needed. In total, there are about 500,000 people all over the nation who are assisting people in responding to the 2020 Census.
In an effort to get as many responses as possible every decade, the Bureau always makes sure that all the information is available in various languages. At the moment the information about the census is available in 13 languages, which include: English, Spanish, French, and Chinese. By doing this the Census Bureau hopes that they can get more responses from people across the country and also help to eliminate any language barriers that people may face when they are going to fill out the census. In addition, the US Census form for 2020 will feature updated wording for the Native American race category and for the first time will include Aztec and Mayan under the tribes listed.
So, if you want the funds that your communities deserve, and the proper resources that would make everyone’s life better, fill out the Census. Again, it allows for the proper amount of funds to be allocated to your state, your city, your neighborhood, and by extension you. Although you may not believe it, your voice – regardless of race, sex, or legal status – matters because your very private information won’t be shared but you will definitely be affected by the census responses.
For any questions you may have, or to gain more information, visit: https://www.census.gov/
Also, listen to the following audios – in English and Español – reflecting on the importance of the Census 2020.
Adrian Villanueva is a young writer, audio-radio producer from Little Village. He has participated in Yollocalli’s radio-journalism program, Your Story, Your Way! since summer 2018. He will be attending the University of Saint Francis this upcoming Fall 2020 to pursue a Criminal Justice major with a minor in Spanish.
Adrian Villanueva worked on this piece as part of Yollocalli Arts Reach Journalism, Storytelling and Radio Internship Program.
The audio pieces were produced by Gloria Nina Valle, Emmanuel Ramirez, Cynthia Salgado, Karlos Ramirez and Cecilia Ruiz.