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Black Women and Census 2020

By Emerald Snipes


The 2020 Census is important to many Black and Brown communities. If we are not all counted accurately on the census, we will be left with limited financial resources and political representation. Communities of African descent are suffering the most during this time of need. We are currently dealing with a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and we’re being disproportionately impacted. We’re dying at a faster pace and suffering other poor health outcomes more than our White counterparts. We are among the most vulnerable populations and we have the least in terms of resources such as medical equipment, hospital beds, public services and even childcare.


Black women often stand at the epicenter of it all. A Black woman who is the head of the household is also the breadwinner, the doctor, the nurse and now the teacher. Since we have now moved over to remote learning, we are also our children’s primary instructors, another addition to the long list of things Black women must handle on a day to day basis. My sister was a single parent who developed heart problems after she had her son. Her experiences opened my eyes to the effects that stress has on Black women. She died of a massive heart attack at the age of 27. She was one of many who suffered with mental health challenges like depression without receiving proper treatment. She faced so many struggles alone. Like so many others.


When it comes to Black women and the census, many factors prevent our households from being counted. Often, there is only one parent at home. As a Black woman, I know first hand the difficulties women face when having to be the head of household. The struggle of maintaining the house, the bills and the children becomes a strain. In these situations, every responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders. Given the crushing burden of the many things we have to do, filling out the Census may not be at the top of list. On top of all of this, as a result of the coronavirus, we’ve been forced to shelter (or quarantine) at home. One silver lining, however, is that being home gives us an opportunity to take a few minutes to complete the census to help ensure our community needs are met.


Activity around the census can potentially mobilize our communities virtually to ensure that everyone is counted. For the first time, the 2020 Census can be filled out online (my20202census.gov) or on the phone (1-844-330-2020). Both of these methods serve as amazing resources for families who can not get out to mail the form. By now, most families should have also received the paper form. So even if you are not comfortable with completing the census online or over the phone, you can also submit the paper form if you have access to the mail.

Many organizations and elders are used to a census worker coming door to door to count the number of people in each household. It’s important that we all know that given the current environment, the old way is impossible.


Social distancing policies make door to door census outreach almost impossible. By adapting to the “new normal” and filling out the census at my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-20202 to fill out the census over the phone, the families in our community who tend to suffer the most, can be sure they are doing their part to get their communities full counted.


Ensuring that everyone is counted means more we will receive our fair share of the resources that Black and Brown communities need. An accurate count means that schools have the educational supplies and equipment needed to service our future leaders. It means medical supplies and equipment will be readily available for the staff at our hospitals. An accurate census count means our communities will have the population numbers to justify more investments in our health care centers and fewer hospital closures. Communities that are fully resourced have the means necessary to ensure less Black and Brown folk die from medical neglect.


The census counts, now more than ever. You can fill it out online at my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020. Please do it, for the sake of your family and mine, make sure you’re counted. It will hello ensure that we can do more than just survive; with the proper resources & political representation, we’ll be able to thrive.


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