Flanked by dozens of Black newspaper publishers from across the country, National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairman Danny Bakewell is demanding that the U.S. Census Bureau allocates more funding in advertising for Black newspapers throughout America in order to conduct an accurate count in the 2010 U.S. Census.
The current allocation both disrespects the Black Press's ability to influence African-Americans to respond to the census and woefully inadequate to properly inform Black communities about the importance of being counted, he said.
"It's an issue that grieves us to make public," said the Los Angeles Sentinel publisher at a news conference in Charlotte on Thursday. "We are deeply troubled that we have to speak out about the lack of commitment and resources that have been allocated to the Black Press of America in order to do an awesome task of counting the undercounted in Black America throughout the country and the Diaspora."
Bakewell said he believes the Census Bureau has a lack of political will to allocate the appropriate resources that are needed to properly and thoroughly reach the African-American community. He said the $2.5 million dollar advertising budget that is currently being rationed to nearly 200 Black newspapers "insults" and undermines the historic influence of the Black Press and is not nearly enough to reach the more than 20 million Black people that read those publications.
"It is the source of trust, it is the source of information that guides our community," Bakewell said. "If we don't tell it, who will tell it? And we will tell it. And we are telling it today. We are calling the Census to task and we are asking our representatives in the United States Congress please to not allow this to happen. "
There is much at stake. The outcome of the 2010 Census data will determine how more than $3 trillion in federal funding will be allocated over the next decade as well as how states will be represented in Congress. And so, the flow of federal funds into Black communities and congressional representation will be determined by how accurate the Black population is counted. So accuracy is paramount.
In 2000, the national undercount was 0.1 percent, but the Black under-count was 2.8 percent, according to statistics cited by National Urban League President Marc Morial. Fewer than 60 percent of African-Americans returned their 2000 Census questionnaire compared to 77.5 percent of whites, according to the Census Bureau.
Bakewell says the U. S. Census Bureau could miss an opportunity to avoid a travesty by not using Black newspapers to get the word out.
"In the 2000 Census, we were undercounted by two percent," Bakewell said. "We believe that we are on the cusp of being given a devastating blow by the 2010 Census of being undercounted in a way like we have never been undercounted before in the history of America."
2010 Census chief operating officer Arnold Jackson said in an earlier interview that although the last Census in 2000 had an under-count of less than one-half percent overall, he believes masses of people have gone uncounted in the past because of a lack of returned data. According to his agency, fewer than 60 percent of African-Americans returned their 2000 Census questionnaire compared to 77.5 percent of Whites.