by Andre Carson
Despite our many different opinions, I believe every reader of this paper can agree on one thing: 2020 has been an extremely challenging year. We are battling a once-in-a-century pandemic that is especially deadly for African Americans and highlights the need for a better-funded and more equal health care system. The pandemic has also created an economic crisis that exposes our community’s need for resources to help those who are out of work, underemployed or lack affordable child care. We are also engaged in a struggle for racial justice and reforms to policing that ensure law enforcement better reflects and protects the diverse communities it serves.
The common thread among these different, ongoing struggles is people’s desire to stand up and be counted. We all want to be recognized, acknowledged and understood by our leaders, so they are better able to help us and our loved ones thrive. Thankfully, every Hoosier and every American has the opportunity to do that this year by completing the U.S. census.
Every 10 years, our country undertakes this massive count of its residents. The census isn’t only conducted to determine where Americans live; it also helps give our leaders a better understanding of who we are, what we look like and what resources our communities need. In a year that has further revealed America’s deep divisions, filling out the census is an important and powerful step we must all take to help reduce these inequalities.
The census helps determine the level of federal funding that states, counties and cities receive — for education, health care, public safety, economic development and much more. It is also the basis for the redrawing of legislative districts, which is the hallmark of representative democracy.
As Black people, we are painfully aware that governments have a long history of neglecting and silencing our communities and ignoring our most basic needs. However, if we all take the time to fill out our census forms, we can create a greater visibility and a stronger voice that cannot be ignored.
We have work to do! This year, our congressional district’s response rate has been among the lowest in the state. Thankfully, there is still time to reverse this troubling trend. Americans have until Sept. 30 of this year to submit their census forms, which can also be done online at https://www.2020Census.gov.
I encourage everyone who hasn’t done so to fill out the census form before time runs out. You can complete this process online, by mail or over the phone. For many, it will take just minutes. This small task can make a big difference in shaping the future of our communities. Perhaps most importantly, it is a powerful way we can challenge the long history of inequality in America. It is easy for those who want to maintain this inequality to discount us individually. But when we join together, through actions such as completing the census and making it as accurate as possible, we are stronger than ever.
Don’t miss this opportunity — and duty — to make your voice heard. Fill out your census form today. Visit 2020Census.gov for more information.
Rep. Andre Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.
Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder