How the Census Impacts Black Women
By CLSJ Census Team Member Khadidiatou Beye
There are many issues that Black women and girls face in American society. This is largely due to the fact that we sit at the intersection of racism, sexism and classism. Many of those issues have largely gone ignored for decades. We are often disregarded by scholars, by policy makers, in research, and by society. This is the reason why many Black women fall behind in metrics related to health, wealth and access to resources.
But we can each take action to improve our quality of life by completing the 2020 census.
During this census cycle, we often hear that the central role women play is to ensure their families are adequately represented in the United States Census. But we need to start counting ourselves for our own benefit too.
For example, Medicaid is a federal-state insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals. Reports show that in 2012, there were 16 million African-American participants in Medicaid. It is one of the largest and most critical healthcare programs and it is critical to the health of Black women.
As far too many of us live in poverty (or adjacent to it) access to free healthcare, may be the deciding factor between living or dying. However, adequate funding for healthcare programs depends on Black communities achieving a full and accurate census count. Whether it is for medication, doctor’s visits, pediatricians for our children, or reproductive health, Black women should be getting access to these services and more.
If we could get every Black woman in America counted, more money can be allocated to programs like Medicaid program (and every other program Black women rely on) in order to continue receiving the health services we need.
In addition, the federal government relies on census data to monitor discrimination and enforce civil rights laws including voting rights and equal employment opportunities. By completing the census, we can ensure that the issues that directly affect us as Black women such as pay inequality, can be documented and addressed. Census related resources can also increase our access to educational opportunities and career advancements.
More than $700 billion in annual federal assistance is distributed every year based on the census count. This amount gets distributed to Special Education Grants, the Head Start program, The Child Care and Development Fund which covers SNAP and Medicaid. Across the board, federal funding provides a critical safety net for families and individuals when they need it. These programs can be the determining factor for whether you have a roof over your head or groceries in your fridge. Complete the census. It can help shape the future for yourself, your family, and your community for the next 10 years.