Local group encourages black participation in 2020 census

The 2020 US Census is now underway.

Data collected in the census is used to determine congressional representation as well as how much federal funding an area receives.

My Black Counts is a California-based group seeking to encourage the African-American community to participate.

Eric Payne, a local spokesperson for the group, said the stakes in this census are exceptionally high for the black community.

"Those that are closest to the pain have the most to lose," he said. "We know that African Americans, specifically, face a significant number of barriers here in the Central Valley: Neighborhoods with high levels of concentrated poverty, insufficient resources to address early childhood education, huge gaps in access to higher education and housing affordability opportunities."

Kaya Herron, Chair of the Fresno County Complete Count Committee, said the census is a way to ensure that these needs are made known.

"(In California) we make up about seven percent of the population," she said. "We make up almost 40 percent of the homeless population and 25 percent of our children in foster care. Because the census allocates resources, if we're not counted in the census, our needs will go unmet."

Organizers with My Black Counts hope to use the census as an opportunity to build unity.

"My experience as a black woman here in Fresno is a story that's similar all over the black diaspora," Herron said. "Black people all over the world are black people. I think it's really important that we see this as an opportunity to build unity and to build a community together."

The census can be completed online, by mail, or over the phone.

To participate online, visit the 2020 census website.
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