It wouldn’t be 2020 if the census went according to plan.
The census may seem like a boring, bureaucratic topic, but its impact on our daily lives is huge and the results have the potential to reinforce or redress racial and economic disparities.
The number of changes and controversies that have dogged the 2020 census could make your head spin.
One of the reasons Washington’s census has been as successful as it has is the work of community-based coalitions like the Washington Census Alliance, which brought together dozens of organizations led by or working with communities of color to ensure a complete count.
But Kamau Chege, the manager of the Washington Census Alliance, said that the numbers should not give us a sense of complacency.
The undercount of people of color in the constitutionally mandated count, Chege said, is part of the U.S. legacy of racial hierarchy. “When there’s an undercount, it’s not a surprise, because originally the census didn’t mean to count everybody in,” Chege said. “The census counted African Americans as three-fifths of people and it excluded ‘Indians, not taxed.’ It’s the only place in the Constitution that actually acknowledges the presence of slavery and alludes to the way that it was used to hoard resources and political power among certain communities and prevent it from being shared with everyone today,” he said.