Money, Power, and the 2020 Census

The 2020 Census is almost here. And while it may be just a humble survey, its impact on our individual and collective quality of life is anything but. The Constitution requires the federal government to count everyone living in the United States every ten years, and the results of that count determine a lot about how money and power are distributed in our society. If you’ve ever wondered how certain communities always seem to have what they need to thrive while others — namely ours — don’t, the results of the census have a lot to do with that. There’s a long history of Black folks being undercounted in the census, from being originally counted as only 3/5ths human, to governments spending inadequate resources on counting our communities.

Color Of Change staff stand on the steps of the Supreme Court during an ultimately successful campaign to block the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.

This year, we’ll have three different ways (online, by phone, and on paper) to be counted in the census, giving us the power to reverse these trends and get the resources and representation we deserve. Of course, that’s why many of the same forces that try to stop us from voting and organizing against systemic injustice are also trying to confuse and even scare our communities out of being fully counted. But just like we successfully defeated Trump’s racist and unconstitutional citizenship question, we’re fighting against disinformation and other attempts to count Black communities out. It’s time for everyone to learn what’s at stake in the 2020 Census so we can get out the count beginning this March. 

Every year, our federal government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on important programs our communities need to thrive, including SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Head Start, CHIP (health insurance for kids), special education, and more. Information from the census is used to decide how to divide that money amongst states and communities. And that’s not the only way census data affects our money:

And speaking of power, let’s talk about some of the ways the census impacts our collective power: 

With all this and more at stake, we simply can’t afford to not be counted. Please share this information with your family and friends so they can learn what’s at stake in the 2020 Census too, and so we can all get ready to rise up and be counted starting in March. Together, we can ensure that our communities get the money and power we deserve.