By Tabitha D. James
Responding to the census is not only your civic duty; it also affects the amount of funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and your representation in government. I am very passionate about two groups of people completing the census, both being populations hard to connect with. One group is African-Americans and the other is young adults (late Generation Y and early Generation Z). The 2010 Census undercounted the African-American population by more than 800,000. Today, more than one in three African- Americans live in hard-to-count census tracts. It is important for those who understand the importance of completing the census to reach out to their friends, families, colleagues and others to ensure they are doing their part also by completing it.
In reference to the “young and mobile” population that is made up of the youngest Millennials born at the tail end of their generation but it primarily includes the oldest members of Generation Z born after 1996, many are living on their own or with roommates, and tend to be unmarried and renters. Depending on the frequency of their moves, the mailings from the Census Bureau may never reach them. That said, it is critical for organizations and entities to look at other ways of spreading the message. Social media campaigns and ads have the ability to be a game changer for connecting with this demographic if used properly.
While it is critical for all citizens to to be counted during this year’s census, it is highly critical that leaders work together to ensure audiences that have typically been undercounted are accounted for.
Though I spoke much to the two demographics that are vitally important to me, as a rural citizen I realize the challenges with getting all groups to participate despite racial, age or socioeconomic status. It is my hope that the outreach being coordinated by our local leaders and concerned citizens will help to improve the numbers across Dillon County for all.
By Tabitha D. James