With just over a week left to go before 2023, the organizers of an effort to tally a comprehensive accounting of the political, economic and social priorities of Black folks in the United States are looking for your help in crossing the finish line.
The Black Census Project aims to reach a quarter-million respondents before Jan. 1, 2023. But the initiative’s name is something of a misnomer. Instead of a headcount of the number of people in the country who identify as Black, the project’s goal is to generate enough data from a statistically-significant number of Black Americans so that the responses can be used to create an unofficial national agenda. This agenda would then serve as a basis for advocating for specific public policy outcomes, ranging from funding projects that best benefit our community, to lobbying politicians to include certain issues of Black interest in their political platforms.
The effort is the brainchild of activist Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement who now leads the Black Futures Lab, the organization compiling the survey. In an interview with The Root, Garza acknowledged that similar efforts had been undertaken before, including a survey her organization conducted in 2018. What makes the current effort different, she said, is its scale and that there are specific plans already in place to act on the results in the form of lobbying local and state-level lawmakers for concrete policy results.
“Most surveys that you encounter probably talk to between 800 and 1,000 people and then say, ‘We did a poll of Black people,’” Garza said. “This project is really geared toward breadth and depth.
“We are going to make sure that in cities and states where there’s lots of opportunity and possibility to change the lives of Black people right now, and that we’re organizing in communities to make sure that these proposals become laws in cities and states.”
Unlike the decennial census last conducted by the federal government in 2020, the Black Census Project’s survey is being completed entirely online. Participation is voluntary and anonymous, although some questions do ask for basic demographic information such as year of birth, the state you live in and what, if any, gender a respondent identifies as.
The survey includes a range of inquiries, from ranking respondents’ opinions on the favorability of political figures and institutions to open-ended questions about the best ways to immediately improve conditions in Black communities.
If you’d like to participate, the Black Census Project is available online through Dec. 31.