Durham social justice group takes to social media in effort to boost Census participation among people of color

Thursday, September 24, 2020
Durham group promotes Census participation via social media
County leaders in Durham say Census participation is low among students and people of color. That's why one organization is using social media as a tool to encourage participation so that federal resources could be provided to your community.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- As of Sept. 21, nearly 400,000 housing units in North Carolina still need to be counted in the US Census by Wednesday, according to the Carolina Demography. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly having an impact on that count.

In Durham, the response rate is 61 percent. County leaders say Black and Latino communities in the Hayti neighborhood district have the lowest response rate. Neighborhoods particularly around Duke University, where there's a significant student population, are also reporting low numbers.

The social justice group SpiritHouse Inc is one of the organizations working with Durham County to find ways to increase participation.

The group launched a handful of videos on their social media recently of Black women sharing how the Census helped them identify and connect to their ancestors dating back to the 1800s.

"This is the 150 year anniversary of people of color being able to be counted as human on the Census. So we think it's really important for you to stand up and say I am human, I am whole, I am worthy of being counted," said Aidil Ortiz of Spirithouse. "So that one day when you are an ancestor, there will be someone one day looking for you. There will be someone who wants to be connected to you because you are just that special."

An accurate count is also about access to federal money and communities being properly represented.

$16,000 dollars is lost over a 10 year period for every North Carolinian who is not counted, according to the NC Counts Coalition.

So, what you can do?

  • Make sure you have completed the 2020 Census. You can respond to the Census online, over the phone by calling (844) 330-2020, or through the paper questionnaire received in the mail.
  • Ask your family members if they have completed the Census.
  • Ask religious institutions, community groups and schools to remind people to fill out the 2020 Census.

If you'd like more information about how to complete the census, visit 2020census.gov.

WATCH: Billions of dollars at risk as North Carolina's 2020 Census response rate lags behind rest of US

As the deadline for the 2020 Census looms in the distance, the state is predicting it will lose around $7.4 billion a year if more residents don't respond soon.