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A Roadmap for Counting More African Americans in California During the 2020 Census




California Black Media (CBM) has released their updated and comprehensive, “Counting Black California-Counting the Hard to Count” study, identifying areas in the state where African Americans are least likely to be counted by the 2020 Census. The study examined 16 socio-economic variables among Black residents of census tracts throughout the state considered the “least likely to participate” and “less likely to participate”—classifications that are used by the Census.

The study concluded that the most effective way to get a complete count of African Americans in California would be to focus first on 41 distinct areas across the state—some, towns with only hundreds of Black residents; others, cities with Black populations approaching 100,000. These areas capture the vast majority of African Americans in California, and if focused on, would deliver efficient and effective results.

With the 2020 Census effort officially launching yesterday—especially given the significant challenges presented by the Coronavirus—the study is intended to help hit the target areas that will more than likely not respond to the states’ first push to reach residents to respond.

CBM’s executive director Regina Wilson stated, “We risk being undercounted because the Census is overshadowed by today’s crisis, but being undercounted means having fewer resources to battle tomorrow’s crisis as well. I support all of the hard-working Community organizations and ethnic media rising to these challenges to ensure our most vulnerable residents are counted. We hope this report will allow outreach organization’s to better pinpoint where our most vulnerable Black people live.”

The study was commissioned by CBM and authored by Walter Scott Hawkins, who spent 30 years in the California State University System, including serving as Director of Research & Policy Analysis at CSUSB. Hawkins said, “What makes this study unique is that we carefully selected variables that allow us to look solely at Blacks in California. We didn’t compare them to other groups, which so many other studies do. I believe we’ve created a road map for any organization educating the public to target historically vulnerable residents on the importance of self-response to the Census. I also believe the data will drive targeted results for our community during the 2020 Census and Non-Response Follow-up period.”

“The beauty of this report,” Hawkins continued, “is that it can be used by a range of city, county and state leaders to measure education results, deliver social services, track and advocate for affordable housing, etc. Black communities in California can’t afford another undercount,” Hawkins went on to say. “We know that the 2010 Census undercounted African Americans across the nation by more than 800,000, and approximately seven percent of young African American children were overlooked by that census.

Every policymaker and informed community leader understands the significant negative impact that an undercount of that magnitude can have on a community. We launched this study to avoid repeating that mistake; to provide a very detailed roadmap for counting Blacks in California. And importantly, we believe that the methodology can be replicated across the U.S.”

Download the study here:



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