The presidential debate is coming up on Tuesday, but there’s no question about this: Donald Trump heads the most hostile administration when it comes to diversity.
Here’s how much the issue doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t even want to count us all in the Census, at least not accurately. It’s no different from failing to have a national testing policy for COVID-19. The president really prefers not to know—anything. Suppressing facts makes it easier to do whatever he pleases.
This is why we have the courts to thank, at least for now.
On Friday, Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction that bars the Trump administration from accelerating the Census deadlines.
The order prevents the Census count from ending early on Sept. 30 and allow data collection to continue until Oct. 31. The court also stopped the Census Bureau from delivering apportionment data at a sped up deadline of Dec. 31.
Given the pandemic, natural disasters like the California wildfires, and a Census workforce that was just 38 percent of what it had been in years past, accelerating the Census deadlines made no sense at all.
The fear of an undercount was just too real.
The court’s opinion cites Associate Field Director for field operations Timothy Olson, who said this in an email thread on July 27 of this year:
“We need to sound the alarm to the realities of the ground—people are afraid to work for us and it is reflected in the number of enumerators working in the (Area Census Offices). And this means it is ludicrous to think we can complete 100 percent of the nation’s data collection earlier than 10/31 and any thinking person who would believe we can deliver apportionment by 12/31 has either a mental deficiency or a political motivation.”
If I were on that thread, I would say both, considering how the Trump administration has been casting doubt and dissension about the Census at every turn. There never seemed to be a desire to get a true count of the population of the New America, with its more diverse hues that would make a White supremacist cry.
From the citizenship question, which spread fear in immigrant communities, to the Trump memo expressing a desire to not have “illegal aliens” participate, the administration has done all it could to make sure the Census would be anything but smooth, let alone accurate.
At least for now, there’s a little more time.
Just don’t fear the Census. The Supreme Court nixed the citizenship question. The district court has extended the deadlines. Instead, fear what will happen to our communities if you don’t fill out that form. Voting districts and political maps, resources for all manner of education, let alone housing and health issues. And then there’s just the matter of knowing we are seen and recognized as a diverse nation of people in the U.S.—not citizens, but people. All of us. The Census isn’t ICE.
With MyCensus2020.gov getting counted is easier than voting, and we know how the administration is trying to muck things up there. But now Judge Koh has stepped in and saved the day to make sure the Census has a shot to be as accurate as possible. The government will likely appeal this ruling, creating more confusion.
And wouldn’t that be just like 2020.
But for now, there’s time. The Census matters because you do.
Don’t be invisible. Be counted.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR WHITES BUT NOBODY ELSE AT UC
With accurate Census data you’d know exactly how underserved certain populations are in this country, especially when it comes to higher ed.
The University of California, considered one of the world’s premier public research institutions, is currently prohibited from using affirmative action in admissions, a policy that was passed by voters in 1996. For the last 24 years, the university has been hamstrung by the current law to appeal to communities of color.
But that hasn’t stopped UC from having affirmative action for whites.
A state auditor found that UC admitted 64 students not on merit or qualifications but because they were connected to family, friends and donors of the university.
Only 22 were athletes. The majority of admits were white with annual family incomes of $150,000 or more.
The auditor said that admitting non-competitive students “undermined the fairness and integrity of its admissions process and deprived more qualified students of the opportunities for admission.”
That’s especially true in a public institution like UC, and the four schools involved in the audit: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara.
You’ll always hear criticism of affirmative action because the stereotype is the policy benefits an unqualified person of color. What if it benefits an unqualified white person?
“Unqualifed Whites”? What a concept.
For 24 years, UC has been barred from using affirmative action, period. But it’s clear from the auditor’s report, there were exceptions in using “affirmative action” for Whites. It additionally, underscores the importance of accurate Census data in higher ed.
How else will educators know just how well or how poorly they are serving the needs of our diverse nation?
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes for for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. You can follow him on Twitter @emilamok