Census outcome vital to the Black community
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
by Wendell Huston
If you’re not counted in the 2010 Census, it
could come back to hurt you.
Historically, Blacks have been under reported
by the Census so Black communities are hurt by
the shortage, said Arnold Jackson, chief operating
officer for the U.S. Census, which is scheduled
for April 1, 2010.
“We estimate that 600,000 Blacks were not
counted in the 2000 Census,” Jackson told the
Defender. “However, the 2000 Census did
record 33.5 million Blacks.”
Local leaders are already calling on people to
be counted in the Census.
“It is our goal that each one of the 5.4 million
residents of Cook County accept this call to
action and be counted by filling out the Census
questionnaire,” Cook County Board President
Todd Stroger said at a May 27 press conference
where he kicked off Cook County Complete
Count. The campaign encourages county residents
to participate in the census.
Jackson cites cultural reasons for some
Blacks not participating in the census.
“When you look at how Blacks historically
have struggled, you begin to understand why
participating in the census every 10 years iS not
a priority for them,” Jackson explained.
Another reason for the low count of Blacks is
due to how some Blacks identify themselves .
“You have some Blacks who do not consider
themselves African-American so they do not
check that box on the census form,” Jackson
The target this year is the same as last year
and that’s to reach everyone, especially those
who go unaccounted, Jackson explained.
To achieve this goal, Jackson said the census
plans to spend $85 million in ethnic advertising
and to establish partnerships with religious
groups and organizations to reach more Black
“Historically Blacks have not had a good
relationship with the federal government and
therefore do not trust them so they keep to
themselves,” said Harold Lucus, president of
Black Metropolis Tourism Center, a non-profit
community organization in Bronzeville.
Next year’s Census determines a wide range
of community services, especially for poor
areas, which often depend on government services.
At least $300 million in federal dollars will
be disbursed to the Black community based
upon census results.
Additionally, Lucus added that some Blacks
are involved in underground economies and do
not want their assets known.
Some do not report all household income for
fear that government services such as welfare,
disability or even unemployment benefits may
be reduced or discontinued.
“I am currently receiving disability, but my
boyfriend recently moved in with me after he
lost his job. He is working temporary jobs for
the time being but if the Social Security office
knew I had another household income, they
might try to reduce my check,” said Tracey, 31,
who asked that her last name not be used to protect
But Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Cook
County Circuit Court, disagrees with Blacks
who do not participate in the census for fear of
losing government assistance they may be collecting