I have skepticism. As a Black man in America, I have over 500 years of evidence to affirm and legitimize my skepticism, particularly as it relates to the federal government. From a constitution that considers me “three-fifths of all other persons” to the 2000 election — my first time participating as voter registered in Florida — I know all too well what it means to not be counted.
But, something happened recently that changed my perspective on the Census.
I learned that my family has been in Bradenton, FL — Mama’s Hometown — for over 100 years. My Great-Grandmother, Georgia Lee Hunter, arrived there as a child in the early 1900s. Her parents relocated to Bradenton from Newberry, FL — a move that likely saved their lives given the climate. I was able to connect these dots and trace this branch of my lineage back to the 1800s using data from the Census.
This experience made me think about the Census in a context beyond myself. I think about descendants digging up my story 200 years from now. I am doing everything in my power to ensure that they live a life that feels like it counts.
And yet, I still have mixed feelings about the Census.
I have seen so much that confirms the aforementioned: undercounted, uncounted, and even more recently, weaponized through the attempted use of citizenship questions. It would be what my Grandma called a “bold-faced lie” if I said I had no concerns about sharing information with the government, but I did it anyway.
As I mentioned earlier, the election and census of 2000 still affects me to this day. Though legitimately skeptical, I am clear about what this country owes me. It owes me reparations. It owes me, as Lonnie Lynn said, “to be amended five-fifths.” It owes me an accurate count. It owes you an accurate count. We count. Therefore, we must be counted.
Our community deserves a fair, accurate, and complete count. Join me and complete the 2020 Census today.
Director of Policy & Partnerships, ACCFB