Will We Truly Be Counted?

As political and social movements have expanded and caused global debates, thanks to social media, there’s now an urge to dig deeper into politics. There’s a push to understand and get involved in everything on a national level, as well as a push (and a need for sure) to get involved on a local level. In fact, I am a firm believer that in order for the world to get better, we have to get the community better. This seems like a hopeful goal, considering there are many people working on the ground level. However, with so many communities or leaders unwilling to change while witnessing an issue evolving first hand, how will these problems ever get resolved by those at the top?

For those who don’t know, the Census is a national survey used to determine where funding in this country goes towards; its often done every 10 years. I’ve heard a lot of millennials and those from younger generations say that this is the first time they’ve heard about the Census. Personally, I find this a bit surprising, as I’ve remembered seeing commercials for it and even being mentioned on TRL and 106 & Park one year (if you remember, you remember). After some thought, I remembered so much could happen in 10 years, it could be easy to forget. That notion was proven right when most of my friends forgot about the census and openly admitted that they never heard about it until now.

I’m glad to see a number of celebrities have spoken on the importance of the census and encouraging everyone to do it. However, I must admit, I often ask myself, “will anything come from this?”. As someone who was born and raised in Chicago, I can say I haven’t seen much change since the last census, in 2010.

From 2010 until now I haven’t seen much change for the better in the city. Taxes are still unreasonably high, unemployment rates are still rising, and the city is constantly being ranked top 5 in most move-outs. We’ve seen more schools and libraries closed than built. A lot of black and brown people, including myself, are constantly witnessing neighborhoods we grew up gentrified and pushing the original residents out. From my personal experience, many of my friends, and even some family members or friends of the family, have been pushed out of jobs and their communities due to ageism. On top of that, Chicago has consistently been the focal point for gun violence, police brutality, and racial injustice (and let’s not forget redlining).

I’ve seen this city change for those of privilege and wealth, but it’s evident that black and brown lives don’t matter. Just recently the city demolished the Crawford Coal Plant in Little Village, causing respiratory problems amongst the residents. Also, in Chicago alone, over 70% of the COVID-19 deaths are African American and many of them are essential workers and elders. For the city to continue to let this happen, knowing we’re in the middle of a pandemic, speak volumes. This is just Chicago, we haven’t even touched on other aspects of injustice around the country. As a Chicago native, I must say respectfully, that the census has been taken lightly, and if nothing changes after this pandemic moves over, it only shows how we are willfully ignorant of the issues in our own country. Taking a survey for 5 minutes doesn’t mean much in this country when the people on a local level don’t care about your well being. If local officials don’t care enough to equally fund neighborhoods, medical centers, education, or even transportation (cause we all know the city doesn’t thoroughly clean the CTA trains or buses), what would make someone believe this country will adequately fund predominately black and brown neighborhoods across this country? The census may have its perks on one aspect but I hope something more consistent and more in-depth comes along and helps those in the future.

(cover photo from Newsweek)


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