African American groups educating communities about census

March 09 2020

By KIMBERLY K. FU | | Vacaville Reporter

PUBLISHED: March 7, 2020 at 7:16 p.m. | UPDATED: March 7, 2020 at 7:17 p.m.

You matter.

So much so that your participation in the upcoming U.S. Census will help to shape funding and resources for necessities like healthcare, affordable housing, school lunch programs, jobs and more.

Which is why all manner of groups, like Solano-based Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), are getting into the groove to ensure you’re counted.

The census, done every 10 years, is a way for you to have a voice, emphasized Latressa Alford with BWOPA and census lead and

Don’t be afraid to participate, Alford encouraged, as there’s nothing on the census to hurt you or your loved ones. It’s all about being counted and letting your concerns be heard.

“The whole idea is to reach the underserved communities in California,” she said. “We’re doing outreach.”

Studies have shown that the African American community has been undercounted, she continued, so organizations like BWOPA are doing all they can to raise awareness.

“There are 30 Black-led organizations at the forefront of information,” Alford pointed out. “We’re trying to reach Generation Xers, Generation Ys, Millennials, Boomers, everyone.”

The undercount could be because people move, become homeless or are incarcerated, she said. Many are just scared.

“They think the information is going to be used against them in some way and it’s not,” she said.

But the low numbers, she added, hurt everyone.

“We lose millions of dollars that can help our communities,” Alford advised.

So starting last year, she started putting feelers out. Her group even visited hundreds of homes in Vallejo.

“When we told them about the census they were excited,” she remembered. “We got some really positive responses.”

The aim is to explain the importance of the census and how it can impact our daily lives.

“If these people aren’t counted, the government won’t understand that these people need money,” she said.

As well, the census has historical significance.

Back in the 1920s, Alford explained, the census takers didn’t count Black people. Because they do know, Black people have a duty to stand and be counted, she said.

“I encourage people to count every person in their household, kids, grandma, anyone who’s staying with you for any period of time,” she said. “You don’t have to count your dog, but you do have to count.”

Other organizations involved in the local count include the California Black Census Redistricting Club, the African Americal Alliance, African American Womens Organization, Tri City NAACP, the faith-based community and more.

The census kickoff is March 12.

For updates on events, text “count” to 97779.

For more information, visit

Article from The Reporter