By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The Black Futures Lab announced that it had reached a historic milestone in the Black Census Project survey, which will conclude in October 2023. The most extensive survey of Black people in the United States has gathered nearly 130,000 responses from all 50 states, four times bigger than the 2018 Black Census.
“Going into another presidential campaign season, we know that Black communities are still being undercounted and under-engaged,” said Alicia Garza, Founder and Principal of Black Futures Lab, who began designing the Black Census Project after the 2016 election. “It is critical that we engage Black communities early and often. Every day, policy is made about us without us. “We launched the Black Census to transform that–we take the data from the Black Census and use it to inform a Black agenda that serves as a roadmap for policymakers and politicians on how to best address the needs of Black communities.”
Garza continued, noting that “The Black Census is historic and important—there is still time for you to join us and participate so that your voice can be heard.”
The Black Census Project, launched in 2018, engages communities typically under-represented in traditional surveys and policymaking. The Black Census Project is gathering information on the opinions and views of Black people. This includes demographics and areas such as LGB+ communities, trans communities, incarcerated Black individuals, Black immigrants, and Black people living in rural areas.
“Now more than ever, it is essential that Black trans people are seen, heard, and counted,” said Aria Sa’id, Founder Emeritus of the Transgender District. “Given all the attacks on trans rights, we know Black trans folks will be the most impacted. While our rights are being taken away and our communities are being targeted, very few people are talking to trans people about what we’re experiencing, and what support we need to live dignified lives. The Black Census does this and gets information from us about our needs and experiences, and what we want to see for our futures. The experiences of Black trans people matter, not just for us, but for all Black communities.”
Once the Black Census closes in October, Black Futures Lab said it would use the survey to design and release the Black Agenda 2024 in early 2024. The Black Agenda 2024 is a policy roadmap that will inform legislators nationwide of the critical priorities of Black communities across America. The tool will also help activate and involve Black voters before elections. Officials said it would encourage Black communities to participate and use their political power to inform, influence, and impact institutions and decision-makers involved with Black people.
“With the 2024 presidential elections right around the corner, and the first GOP debate kicking off tonight, we know Black votes matter; Black people do too,” said Angela Rye, Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies. “To be powerful in politics, Black people must curate, shape, and push our own political agenda—a Black agenda–and the Black Census Project equips us to do that. That is why this project is tremendously important.”
According to a news release, over 30,000 Black people nationwide participated in the first Black Census Project in 2018. The Black Futures Lab used the results to identify pressing legislative and policy priorities, turning the survey into a national, state, and municipal policy platform to guide 2020 Presidential candidates as they devised strategies to earn the support of Black voters.
In 2022 and 2023, Black Futures Lab collaborated with over 50 Black-led grassroots organizations, more than a dozen national media partners, and Black influencers. The organization said it has reached over 129,000 Black people nationwide. Most respondents (64%) are from the South; 14% are from the Midwest, 13% are from the Northeast, and 10% are from the West. Nearly half (40%) of respondents are ages 60+; a quarter are 50–59, 17% are 40–49, 12% are 30-39, 4% are 25–29, and 4% are 18–24. Initial findings show the top three issues for Black people are:
• Low wages that are not enough to sustain a family: 39%
• Gun violence: 32%
• Schools that fail to prepare children adequately: 32%
“This is the largest survey of Black people in American history—there is nothing else that comes close,” said Michael Harriot, writer, and author of Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America. “This is a way for people to actually know what Black voters want, and what Black voters are concerned about. It also has historical significance and gives us the ability to dispel myths about Black people with real data.” Some participants who complete the survey at BlackCensus.org will be eligible to receive a $20 gift card.