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New Census Data Shows Changing Complexion of California; Political Power Shifts

Those numbers also determine how – and how much — state and federal funding will be allocated to counties and cities in the state.

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Population map of the United States for the 2020 census

The U.S. Census Bureau announced its first local level findings from the 2020 data collection cycle on August 12.

The new numbers — which drill down to provide demographic information at the county, city and block levels — reveal that California is more multiracial, more urban and facing population shifts that will likely lead to redrawing the boundaries of the state’s congressional and legislative districts.

Based on estimates the Census Bureau released in April, California is already losing a seat in the United States House of Representatives for the first time in the state’s 171-year history, bringing the state’s congressional delegation down to 52 members. That loss of one seat will also equate to a decline in the amount of federal funding California receives every year.

Since August of 2020, the 14 members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission have been working on the once-in-a-decade project of redrawing the lines of the congressional, state Senate and Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts. There are five Democrats, five Republicans and four people who are not members of either party serving on the commission.

“The redistricting data provides population counts as well as demographic characteristics of ethnicity, race and voting age at all levels of geography,” said James Whitehorne, chief of the Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office, U.S. Census Bureau. “While the primary purpose of these data is for states to redraw their districts, these statistics will also tell us how many people live in each city, each county and each block.”

Those numbers also determine how – and how much — state and federal funding will be allocated to counties and cities in the state.

Based on the numbers, most of the changes coming to the state’s legislative districts are expected to happen where there has been population increases, slow growth or a loss of residents – areas in the rural northernmost regions of the state and in Southern California counties around or below Los Angeles.  Growth across the Los Angeles area, for example, over the last 10 years has been slow, but some cities like Irvine in Orange County are now among the fastest-growing in the country.

Over the last 10 years, the complexion of California has changed significantly. Driven mostly by population growth among Hispanics, the state joined Hawaii, the District of Columbia and New Mexico as places in the United States where whites are no longer the majority. The state’s Hispanic population grew from 37.6% in 2010 to 39.4 % in 2020 while the white population dropped from 40.1% to 34.7%.

The state’s Black population has also seen a decrease of 2.7% from a little over 6 % to 5.7%. The current total Black population is now 2,237,044.

California is also the second-most diverse state after Hawaii, according to the Census Bureau.

“As the country has grown, we have continued to evolve in how we measure the race and ethnicity of the people who live here,” said Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor of Race and Ethnic Research and Outreach, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau implemented a significant change to the 2020 census data collection. It used two separate questions to gather an additional layer of ethnic information besides the usual inquiries on race and Hispanic origin. For example, if a participant identified as Black or African American, there was also an option to specify nationalities like Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian Somali, etc.

“The improvements we made to the 2020 census yield a more accurate portrait of how people self-identify in response to two separate questions on Hispanic origin and race. Our analysis of the 2020 census results show that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past.”

Across the U.S., the results showed that the white population remained the largest in the country at 204.3 million with an additional 31.1 million identifying as mixed in combination with White. The multiracial population comprised the second-highest population for the first time at 49.9 million alone or combined, surpassing the Black or African American population at 46.9 million.

The U.S. population is now 57.8% white, 18.7% Hispanic, 12.4% Black and 6% Asian.

There were several other notable findings shared by the bureau during the presentation. The U.S. population is currently 331.4 million people, an increase of 22.7 million over the past 10 years. The 7.4% increase is the second-lowest growth rate in history.

Overall, national population growth was centered around urban areas over the last 10 years. California is home to three of the top 10 largest cities in the country. San Jose stands at No. 10 with a population of 1.01 million (a 7.1% increase), San Diego is at No. 8 with 1.4 million people (a 6.1% increase), and No. 2 on the list is Los Angeles with 3.8 million residents (a 2.8% increase).

For the first time ever, all cities in the top 10 (with the highest populations) have over 1 million people.

According to the Census Bureau this first release of local redistricting data is in a legacy format that will be easier for experienced data analysts to navigate.

“In September, we will release the exact same data in a far more user-friendly format that people are familiar with and will allow for easier searching,” said Jones.

Visit census.gov for more detailed information, charts, and analysis.

Activism

California Awards Ceremony Celebrates the Best of Ethnic Journalism

“Ethnic media has quickly become an increasingly indispensable bridge for communicating with diverse populations within our state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the opening ceremony.

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AbsolutVision; Business Paper

Some 30 ethnic media journalists were honored for their coverage of the epic events of 2020 at a virtual California Ethnic Media Awards ceremony, which took place June 3.

Selected from 235 submissions from reporters working in print, digital, TV and radio (in eight languages), the winners were chosen by judges with language and cultural fluency who know the challenges of working in the sector.

“Ethnic media has quickly become an increasingly indispensable bridge for communicating with diverse populations within our state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at the opening ceremony.

“You have worked against enormous odds to make sure our communities were informed about historic news events of the year. You are key to sustaining an inclusive communications infrastructure that knits our communities together when so many forces, as you know well, threaten to drive us apart,” the governor added.

The multilingual awards were sponsored by Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media. Each winner received $1,000 in cash. Entries were submitted in nine categories:

  • The 2020 census,
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on ethnic communities,
  • The economic crisis that exacerbated racial and economic fault lines in California, the rights of immigrants,
  • The movement for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd, exceptional reporting on the impact of climate change, the 2020 elections, commentary that serves as a call to action for ethnic audiences, and community media innovation and resilience to survive the pandemic.

“Thank you to all the journalists, reporters, editors, photographers and publishers who work long hours without recognition every day. You are committed to telling stories and covering underreported stories that we would otherwise never hear,” said Regina Brown Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media.

In their acceptance speeches, the awardees recognized the support of their editors, publishers and families, as well as the challenges of covering ethnic communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, racist policies, and hate crimes.

“Words can be deadly, or they can be life affirming. While the idle intellectual elite strive to cancel culture, we are tasked with removing the knee out of the throat of truth and reaffirming and defining journalism in our own image,” said Rose Davis of Indian Voices, awarded for her landmark essay: “The Census and the Fourth Estate,” which advocates for the participation of Native Americans in the census despite centuries of being excluded.

Danny Morrison, winner in the category of English language broadcast TV for his analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement in Bakersfield said that “as an African American man in central California, I’ve always known that we have a lot of work to do regarding the inequities within our ethnicity. That is the reason why my team and I went to prisons, schools, churches, youth groups and more to speak to the underserved and the forgotten because we understand the struggle that in most cases we have lived through.”

Jorge Macias, awarded for his digital coverage of climate change for Univision, recalled how in the last four years, “we all suffered from the denial of climate change, and even in moments of terror in California with these devastating fires, the former president (Donald) Trump said that science didn’t know. This prize means a lot because as human beings we have to battle with that absurd view denying climate change.”

Hosts for the evening were Odette Alcazaren-Keeley and Pilar Marrero, both distinguished veterans of the ethnic media industry. Some 20 elected officials, community leaders, scholars and writers paid tribute to the sector in videotaped remarks.

Sandip Roy, once a software engineer in Silicon Valley, now an award-winning author and journalist in India, said if it weren’t for ethnic media giving him a platform, he wouldn’t be a writer today.

After presenting awards to Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese reporters for stories on issues impacting Black and Latinx communities, Alcazaren-Keeley announced a special judge’s award for cross-cultural reporting.  The winner, Jeanne Ferris of News from Native California, documented how the destinies of two groups of people converged when Japanese Americans were incarcerated in World War II on reservation lands.

At the closing of the ceremony, Sandy Close, executive director of Ethnic Media Services, said the coming together of reporters from so many racial and ethnic groups to celebrate not just their own but each other’s work was the real takeaway for the night.  “Ethnic media are like fingers on a hand,” she said, quoting Chauncey Bailey, a veteran of Black media killed in 2007 for investigating wrongdoing in his own community. “When we work together, we’re a fist.”

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Crunch Time for Census: Activists Want Every Black Californian Counted

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Black Lives Matter is shouted, printed, painted and posted everywhere in today’s racial-and-social-justice-aware political climate, but those lives may be threatened by low participation in the U.S. 2020 Census.

At risk for Black families in California, who live in the hardest-to-count census tracts of the state in disproportionate numbers, are federal resources for schools, housing, health care, employment, transportation and public policy initiatives that target them.

The ability to maintain or lose political representation in Congress is also at stake. According to the consulting group Election Data Services (EDS), California could lose a congressional district representing 300,000 people for the first time in its 160-year history.  Part of the problem, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s interactive 2020 Census response map, approximately 25 % of California’s current population (9,879,459) live in hard-to-count neighborhoods and are at risk of being missed in the 2020 Census.

Carmen Taylor Jones, 2020 Census director at the Los Angeles-based Black Women for Wellness advocacy group, said it is more than simply being counted, but a call to action.

“(The census) is the keeper of houses, and they are the holder of genealogy records,” said Jones, former 2010 Census Bureau Southern California Area regional manager. She said her new slogan for the 2020 Census is “document your existence,” by completing the decennial census.

As African Americans and other stakeholders focus their outreach to undercounted communities, the state is also intensifying its last-ditch initiatives as the 2020 Census count goes into its final stretches.

This week, the California Complete Count Census 2020 office has organized several public awareness activities under the banner of “Get Out the Count Week.” The events, which include a press briefing, a “Virtual Day of Action” and an online pep rally of “Social Media Ambassadors,” are geared toward reaching Californians who have still not completed their forms.

The threat of losing a seat in Congress is heard often, but it has never happened in California, since population losses are typically tempered by nearly as many people moving to the state or relocating within it.

As of July 13, California’s response rate was 63.2 %, according to the Census Bureau’s interactive response map.  Per the California Complete Count Committee, an estimated 850,644 households have not responded, which equates to an estimated population of over 4.2 million.

Further, the California Complete Count Committee indicated, the average Self-Response Rate as of June 4 was 61.6 % for Black/African American, 59.1 % for Hispanic/Latino, and 61.4 % for American Indian and Alaska Native.

The National Urban League indicated in its State of 2020 Census Report, however, that favorable state response rates that meet or surpass the national 2020 Census rate provide little indication of how well or poorly predominantly or heavily populated Black communities are responding to the 2020 Census. It recommends closer analysis to ensure targeted outreach lifts participation in low-response-rate Black communities.

“If we are not counted, then we amplify our problems as opposed to solving our problems,” said Janette Robinson Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness.

Organizations like Black Women for Wellness knew the COVID-19 pandemic made areas considered hard-to-count only harder to reach.  This organization and others in California are part of a group called “The Black Hub” that worked with vulnerable communities across the state.

The State of California gave $187 million for the Census campaign to push outreach efforts to educate of the importance of being counted this year.  These efforts included support to The Black Hub along with other institutions.

Flint told California Black Media that outreach on low voting turnouts for her organization began in 2000 with constant voter education campaigns.  Later in 2012, it developed VREAM (Voting Rules Everything Around Me) to address voter suppression in California. The decision to participate in the 2010 and 2020 censuses to increase Black counts was an obvious next step, she continued.

The group’s outreach tactic, tagged the 200 Grand Campaign, trained 15 student interns to phone bank for five-and-a-half weeks. Jones requested 200,000 contact phone numbers in 45 hard-to-count tracts from the California Community Foundation.

Seventy-five percent of the 200,000 phone calls affirmed a commitment to participate in the 2020 Census, according to Jones.

“That is the single largest outreach to date in L.A. County,” she said.  “In addition, the students’ text campaign reached 35,000 contacts with a response rate close to 90%.”

Student interns like Deshawn Moore worked from home and used their own phones adhering to Black Women for Wellness’ COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe.  “I learned a lot in training about voting and the Census.  One time when I was on the bus, I asked someone if they have taken the Census. They said no.  I told them about it and how to do it,” Moore said.

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Thousands of Californians Face Homelessness With Eviction Freeze Set to End

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With the federal COVID-19 rent protections provided in the CARES Act about to expire, any plan to assist tenants who have fallen behind on their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, would have to be drawn up by state or local governments. 

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Judicial Council

In California, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Judicial Council, said, during a public meeting June 24 that the council would “very soon resume voting to terminate the temporary orders having to do with unlawful detainer evictions and foreclosures.” 

The Judicial Council, which regulates the state’s court system, placed a temporary emergency rule on April 6, which stops judges from processing evictions for non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 state of emergency. If the court votes to terminate the rule, it would be rescinded effective Aug. 14, 2020. 

Nisha Vyas, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty spoke at a press conference held by Ethnic Media Services. In her presentation, she detailed some mechanics of the Judicial Council’s rules and she explained how its rescission would hurt California renters. 

“We’re extremely concerned about this, as the Legislature and governor have not yet acted to put something in place that will prevent the massive wave of evictions that will begin when this rule is lifted,” Vyas told California Black Media over email. 

“When the rule is withdrawn and the moratorium lapses, we expect this massive eviction crisis, and if we allow the evictions to simply start again without any long-term assistance, it’s going to have a devastating impact on renters, and in particular communities of color.” 

Lifting the statewide eviction moratorium would disproportionately affect Black Californians. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Housing Survey, 64.4% of African Americans in California are tenants. Also, 57% of Black renters have lost income since mid-March this year, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. 

According to another U.S. Census Bureau Housing Pulse Survey conducted in June, only about 46 % of Black renters in California were confident that they could pay July’s rent. The other 54% – which accounts for hundreds of thousands of African American households – have none to moderate confidence that they will be able to keep a roof over their heads. 

During the public meeting, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye also said that the Aug. 14 deadline would give the state Legislature the chance to pass legislation regarding tenant protections. 

AB 1436, authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) protects tenants from eviction due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic; allows landlords and tenants to work out payment arrangements for no more than the amount the renter owes; shields the tenant from negative credit reporting and protects his or her ability to rent in the future; and places the eviction process under the authority of civil courts; among other provisions. It also gives a 15-month grace period for unpaid rent after the COVID-19 state of emergency ends. 

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously in May 2020 and is currently under review in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is sponsored by multiple housing justice organizations, including the Western Center, PolicyLink and Housing NOW California. 

According to Vyas, solving past due rent disputes in civil court rather than through the evictions process would be better for renters. Eviction proceedings are typically fast-tracked, with nearly 75% of eviction cases resolved within 45 days of filing, and many low-income tenants cannot afford an attorney. 

“The advantage is that tenants would be able to remain in their homes. They could handle the rent payment dispute with the landlord in a proceeding that doesn’t put them at risk of homelessness. It would also prevent unnecessary and harmful interactions with law enforcement since lockouts are performed by sheriffs,” said Vyas. 

Through e-mail, Vyas also pointed out that Californians would need assistance on the federal level as well, preferably through monetary rental assistance. But on the state level, Vyas said, AB 1436 is a necessary step. 

“AB 1436 is a chance for communities and individuals to tell their state legislators here in California to stop the new wave of evictions to keep us all safe and housed. It is, I want to stress, the first step of many that we need to take to bring more equity into housing in California. But this is a great way for people to become engaged.”

 

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