The most important thing you can do at home

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by Colvin Grannum & Linda Johnson

Get Counted in the 2020 Census; help close the Racial Wealth Gap

As New Yorkers face another week at home, it can feel like our civic obligation ends at the front door. We’re here to remind you that you need to take one more, very important step to protect our community: complete the 2020 census.

Now, more than ever, we must do everything possible to be fully counted; the consequences of an undercount are dire and will negatively impact our communities for the next decade.

Thankfully, institutions across Brooklyn and NYC, including Bed Stuy Restoration Corporation and Brooklyn Public Library, are spearheading initiatives to increase participation and inclusion in the census.

This is particularly important in black and brown communities, which have historically been undercounted, under-resourced, and denied proper investment. Nearly 80 percent of Brooklynites live in neighborhoods deemed “hard to count”. In 2010, Brooklyn had the lowest mail return rate among counties with populations over 500,000. Only 49 percent of Bed Stuy residents mailed in their census forms.

Those who stand to benefit the most are most harshly impacted by undercounting: children under the age of five, older adults, and black men. Over the past three decades, blacks have been undercounted in the census by 2-4 percent, while whites were overcounted by over 1 percent.

The direct result of the undercount in the 2010 Census: New York State lost two Congressional seats, while Texas gained four. If we are to pass legislation delivering crucial benefits to our community, we must be appropriately represented in Congress. An accurate count would also mean an annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars into Brooklyn.

An accurate count can also help close the racial wealth gap. According to the George Washington Institute For Public Policy, a completed census form is worth $4,000 per person. Today, the average net worth of a white family is $171,000; nearly ten times greater than that of a black family at $17,150.

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