By Danielle Hyams
Filling out the census is crucial to democracy. In fact, it’s mandated by the constitution. Before this latest ruling, we spoke with Ahsia Badi, New York State census director at Emgage USA, which builds political awareness in the American Muslim community, to explain why it’s important. She itemized how New Yorkers can do their part.
Everybody matters. Regardless of your citizenship or housing status, you need to be counted by the census, and doing so will not put you at risk. This year the census has increased the languages it can be responded in to 12, not including English. Additionally the census bureau provides video and print guides in more than 50 languages.
New York City and New York State give more than they get. This is one of Badi’s main points. We can only get the maximum amount we deserve if everybody fills out the census. Want more funding for subways, bridges, tunnels and roads? Fill out the census!
What if you left the city due to coronavirus? It doesn’t matter, Badi said. Whether you are staying with your parents right now or spending time at a second home, if, in a coronavirus-free world you planned to be living in New York City in April, that’s the place you should list as your home.
How to help. Name-drop the census — everywhere. On Zoom calls with friends or colleagues. As you chitchat in line at the store (keep safe distance!). Ask your neighbors if they need help. Encourage your building to post information about the census. Get out and speak to people in your community: what a great excuse to start conversation.
Track progress. CUNY created a fabulous mapping tool that allows you to input your address and see what percentage of your neighborhood has completed the census. As far as New York City goes, all five boroughs have pretty dismal response rates.
It’s not so different from voting. “Voting matters and elections have consequences and participating in the census matters,” Badi said, “and just like your vote matters, being counted in the census has an impact on your community for far longer than an election period.”
This content is run in collaboration with the Epicenter-NYC, a newsletter launched at the height of Covid-19 to surface and meet the needs, expand networks