Wrath of the Math: Understanding the Census (Pg 4)

Content hears this sort of thing all the time. “None of the information collected by the Census is made available to any other federal agency,” she states to whoever will listen.

2000 marked the highest participation rate of any Census—yet only 67% of households were counted. For 2010, the Census is pulling out all the stops to make sure that number is surpassed. 

“People don’t realize that by not filling out and mailing in their Census forms they may lose political representation,” says Tony Farthing, New York’s Regional Census Director. “Once that seat is gone, it’s gone for 10 years. That’s scary.” Having been with the Census for 32 years, Farthing remembers having doors slammed in his face in Black neighborhoods. “African Americans are a bit tougher to reach,” he acknowledges. “Prior to the 2000 Census, there was no race-specific advertisement. Now we run ads in Black media and are spending $300 million on the 2010 ad campaign.”

But judging by today’s board meeting of the Coalition for the Improvement of Bed-Stuy, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The group of mostly older businesspeople, shop owners, local politicians and activists is seated at a huge U-shaped table bombarding Content with questions. It’s her last meeting of what has been a jam-packed day. She tells them she’s come to seek their assistance because they are pillars of the community. Still, Content encounters the same skepticism that filled the air at the Justice Corps meeting.

“Has the Census thought about doing the 10-question survey online?” asks a man in a blazer. 

“Taking the Census online is something that was considered but we feel that in order to protect people’s privacy, mail is the best way to handle it,” answers Content. Poised and articulate, she looks like a student being quizzed by professors.

“Although the Census is supposed to be anonymous, is it actually easing the fears of people?” asks a woman looking over the edge of her eyeglasses. “Especially those who feel the government may use this information to come after them?”

“The Census doesn’t share any of the information it receives with other government agencies,” says Content once more. “I can’t even discuss the information I learn or else I will face five years in jail or a fine of $250,000.” Sounding like a salesman offering her best pitch, she adds: “We take your privacy very seriously.”

“Brooklyn has a high incarceration rate,” another man asks. “How will those in prison be counted?”

“Unfortunately,” she replies, “ they will be counted in the city where they are imprisoned.” The room groans, understanding that the thousands of Brooklyn residents doing time in remote upstate towns equal millions of dollars being taken away from the inner city. (One in 15 Black men 18 years and older are in prison.) New York state has more than 100 jail and prison facilities, the majority located in rural and suburban areas which receive more federal funding because the Census population includes inmates.

Another hand raises: “But what about immigrants? I live in a heavily West Indian community and I know that is a fear, being deported.”

“Look,” says Content, “if the government really wants to find you, they aren’t going to wait every ten years.” Her face is deadpan, but a few board members chuckle. What they don’t find funny is the map of Brooklyn detailing, in shades of brown, orange and red, the communities with the worst response rates during the 2000 census. Bed-Stuy, where this meeting is taking place, scored dismally— less than 40% participation.

“I don’t believe those numbers,” a woman chimes in, her disbelief drawing nods of agreement from some in the room. “How do I know that more people didn’t take part and the government isn’t lying about the numbers?”

It’s moments like this that remind Content she’s got a tough job whose success won’t be measurable for years to come. For every person she gets through to, there’s another who’s still not sold.

“If you don’t believe those numbers then that’s a larger issue,” says Content. “One that isn’t going to be resolved here.” 


Chloé A. HIlliard the Managing Editor of VIBE. Her work has appeared in Essence, The Source, Vibe and the Village Voice.

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Issa Rae Is Now Co-Owner Of A Natural Hair-Care Brand

Issa Rae is expanding into the world of natural hair care. The Insecure creator and star became the co-owner and face of Sienna Natural, a vegan product line for textured hair.

Rae partnered with Sienna Naturals CEO Hannah Diop to rebrand the company. “I think hair has always been part of my identity,” Rae told Allure. “[Even my] debut was a big chop that I did for Awkward Black Girl.”

Rae’s interest in the natural haircare industry was peaked after watching Diop’s “journey,” in products creation. “I’d been watching Hannah's journey for a while, seeing her developing these products. I got interested in the natural, organic side of hair care. I felt like this was a great opportunity to partner up — not to mention obviously loving what the products did for my own hair.”

Sienna Naturals products are made from “lightweight natural ingredients free from synthetics, harsh chemicals” and “heavy oils.”

The product line includes a Salon in a Box collection for $75, H.A.P.I. Shampoo ($18), Dew Magic leave-in conditioner, and Plant Power deep treatment ($22). Shoppers can visit the Sienna Naturals website to get on the waitlist for product restocks and updates.


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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves… ✨ We are Sienna Naturals and the countdown begins until we’re fully restocked in your shower, so make room! 🚿 Our products are made with lightweight natural ingredients, free of synthetics, harsh chemicals or heavy oils— formulated by women with textured hair for women with textured hair.
 We are so excited to be back with: 💫 Larger product sizes 💫 More accessible price points 💫 A whole new look and whole new face Join the waitlist to get your favorites the second we’re back! Link in bio. Also, here’s your friendly reminder to check your voter registration status.

A post shared by Sienna Naturals (@siennanaturals) on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:00pm PDT

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Mural Honoring Chadwick Boseman Unveiled At Disneyland

A new mural honoring Chadwick Boseman made its debut at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney on Thursday (Sept 24). The beautiful art work was painted by Nikkolas Smith, a former Disneyland Imagineer.

The art installation includes an inscription from Smith that reads: “As a former Disney Imagineer, I had the honor of working on a major children's hospital initiative and Avengers Campus as my final two assignments. Seeing Chadwick's heart for people in-person, and later discovering his courageous battle with cancer, I was inspired to create this tribute to honor his life and legacy. To us, he was and will always be T'Challa. Long Live The King.”

The image shows Boseman kneeling alongside a child in a hospital gown while both make the Wakanda salute. The photo is a nod to Boseman’s many hospital visits with sick children, all while he secretly battled colon cancer. The 43-year-old actor passed away from the disease in August.


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A post shared by Disneyland (@disneyland) on Sep 24, 2020 at 12:18pm PDT

The piece, which will be on display until the end of the year, was Smith's final project as a Disney Imagineer, a job that he held for 11 years.

“This one is special,” he explained in an Instagram post. “My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the ‘Avengers’ Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way.” Smith added a note of gratitude to Disney for being supporting of his artistic journey.

See more photos of the mural below.


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This one is special. My King Chad tribute is now on a wall on display at Downtown Disney. 🐾 It is a full circle moment for me: my final two projects as a Disney Imagineer last summer were working on the Children’s Hospital project and the Avengers Campus. To millions of kids, T'Challa was a legend larger than life, and there was no one more worthy to fill those shoes than Chadwick Boseman. I'm so thankful to be able to honor Chadwick's life and purpose in this way. I am grateful to the Disney family for being so supportive of my journey as an artist. @waltdisneyimagineering @disney @marvelstudios @disneyland 🐾✨ #LongLiveTheKing #KingChad #WakandaForever #Phambili #DowntownDisney #BlackPanther #ChadwickBoseman #RIPChadwick #WDI

A post shared by Nikkolas Smith (@nikkolas_smith) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:01am PDT

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Breonna Taylor’s Mother Speaks Out After Cops Who Killed Her Daughter Get Off Without Charges

Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says the system failed her daughter. Palmer posted a painting portrait of Taylor on Instagram on Wednesday (Sept. 23) which she hashtagged, #ThesystemfailedBreonna.

The Instagram post serves as her first public response to a grand jury failing to bring charges against three Louisville police officers for killing Taylor. On Thursday (Sept. 24), Palmer shared a photo of a woman carrying a sign with the Bible verse: “It’s wrong to favor the guilty and keep the innocent from getting justice.”


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It’s still Breonna Taylor for me💙💔💙 #ThesystemfailedBreonna

A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 10:19am PDT


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A post shared by Tamika L. Palmer (@tamikalpalmer) on Sep 24, 2020 at 4:52pm PDT

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron held a press conference on Wednesday where he announced that no charges would be brought against Louisville officers Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankison for killing Taylor. Hankison was the only one among the three to be charged, but not for Taylor’s death.

In an interview with NPR last week, Palmer expressed her hope that charges would be brought against the officers. “I’m hoping to hear that there will be charges,” she said at the time. “That these people will be fired and arrested.” Hakinson is the only one of the three officers to be fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department after Taylor’s death.

Speaking to her daughter’s character, Palmer stated that the 26-year-old emergency room tech was a “beautiful person inside and out.” She pointed out that Taylor “kept saying that 2020 was her year.”

“And she was absolutely right,” said Palmer. “I hate that it came in that form, but it definitely is her year.”

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