A Brooklyn Push to Fill Out the Census and ‘Check Black’

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams (center) with Lurie Daniel-Favors (far right), at the New York City Black Leadership Action Coalition for Census 2020 at Medgar Evers College, as they jointly launched the Brooklyn Complete Count Committee. (Photo by Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office via BK Reader)

Lurie Daniel-Favors, a community activist and general counsel at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, is in charge of the Brooklyn Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams created the group to make sure as many people as possible are counted in what is described as the “hardest to count county in all of New York State.”

BK Reader‘s C. Zawadi Morris speaks to Daniel-Favors to find out why filling out the Census matters, especially for the communities of color that “historically have viewed the Census with the same skepticism they view voting.”

The government needs to know the demographic make up of a community in order to properly distribute annual funding for health care, infrastructure, education, and other areas of the public sector, Daniel-Favors said. The money is distributed based on who responds to the Census, and if there is greater participation among a certain demographic, the distributed money would reflect their needs over those of a demographic that did not respond in strong numbers.

For the first time, the Census will distinguish race from ethnicity. BK Reader asks: “What do you feel is behind this sudden switch, particularly since the history of this country is to count anyone with African ancestry as Black?”

This change is a big deal. Let’s think about New York City alone: We have Black Americans, Black Haitians, Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans; we have black people from everywhere. However, people immigrating here from black communities don’t always want to affiliated with Black Americans, knowing the history of this country. If you grew up in an all-black country, it’s less about race. But this country deals with race differently. So, many times, people will avoid listing themselves as Black on the Census. This change is going to allow people to have a much more nuanced understanding of how race operates in this society, which is very important. What this change on the system means is that you can be from Trinidad and mark Trinidad, because for a lot of people nationality is more important than race.

Daniel-Favors goes on to discuss the “Check Black” campaign, which informs people that they can count themselves as under a particular nationality “but you need to also check Black.” Find out why, according to the activist, this is so important for the community, at BK Reader. And read more from her on the effects of underreporting, and how the impact of the Census goes far beyond the questions on the survey.

Meanwhile in Sunset Park, members of Community Board 7 held the first meeting of the new Census Committee, an initiative to motivate the area’s large number of Asian and Hispanic residents to fill out the Census. Go to Brooklyn Paper to find out what the group has in mind.

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