The decennial Census is a crucial facet of our Republic because its result serves as the basis for redistricting the enforcement of voting rights laws and allocating congressional seats to each state. Census population data is also used by the federal government to distribute billions of dollars to local, state, and tribal governments.
The Census is especially critical to communities of color as they are most susceptible to an undercount in a constitutional mandate. African Americans have had to fight to receive fair and accurate representation. Dating back to 1787, the Three-fifths compromise was established by lawmakers as a way to count the Black population. Essentially, it required states to only count three-fifths of its slaves.
Many years later, while the Three-fifths compromise is a thing of the past, African Americans and other populations of color still suffer from gross undercounts. What exactly does an undercount mean for these communities? It means that they will not be allocated the proper funding for schools, community centers, social services, public roads, transportation, physical and mental health and other necessary services.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration continues to underfund and mismanage the Census process. Their strategy is to lay the ground work for a dramatic undercount that would dilute the political power of racial and ethnic minorities and deprive our communities of critical federal funds to which we are entitled.
None of us can afford to just stand by and allow the Trump Administration to use yet another tool to rip away funding and diminish the political power of communities of color.
Join the NAACP by volunteering to get the word out about the Census in your community. Every American should be counted.
Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, President
NAACP Kansas City, MO Branch