The oversized white envelope with the big black lettering “United States Census 2010” on it has arrived. You’ve opened it and examined the blue form with those 10 questions you’ve heard so much about.
The 2010 Census is here! The form has come, hopefully, to your house, apartment, condo or mobile home. It’s time for our community to get counted.
Instead of telling you about the tangible government money tied to census data that can come to Indianapolis neighborhoods, I want to stress some other special reasons to fill out that blue form and mail it back by April 1.
The census isn’t just about money from government. It’s about leveraging strength in numbers – especially the strength in numbers of our African-American community.
You know that Black folks here live everywhere! While some Blacks obsess over the many Hispanics (legal or illegal) living and working in Indianapolis, the bottom line is there are three times more Blacks than Hispanics in the city.
Even though whites and Hispanics read this column, it is devoted to promoting the forward motion of Black people because it’s published in a Black newspaper.
And when it comes to the census, I want every living, breathing Black person in this city, suburbs, metro area and state counted! And for that to happen, all of us need to complete the form and mail it back.
Let me give you some tangible benefits that can happen when Indianapolis’ African-Americans return their census form.
Remember Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s big campaign, fueled by more than $100, 000 in your tax dollars, about reforming redistricting? Well, the legislature kicked Rokita’s “reforms” to the curb. If they’d been enacted, Rokita’s reforms would have minimized and marginalized the ability of African Americans to elect representatives of their choice to Congress and the Indiana legislature.
The Federal Voting Rights Act, which conservative Chief Justice John Roberts’ Supreme Court still recognizes, allows racial minorities, (if they are of sufficient mass) to elect persons of their choice to office.
There are Black folks all over Indianapolis. When you fill out that census form and mail it back, if we get an accurate count, we could gain an additional legislative seat when legislative redistricting occurs in 2011 and perhaps an extra City-County Council seat when those maps are redrawn in 2012.
One problem with Rokita’s redistricting myopia is his obsession with creating districts that respect county boundaries. That’s nice in theory, but Republicans (and Democrats) haven’t followed those rules in years. Republicans, especially, have been notorious at crossing county lines in districts benefiting them.
As the number of white Republicans fled Marion County between 1980 and today, Republicans kept control of legislative seats by pushing their districts into the suburban county areas.
But the growth of Indy’s suburbs is constraining the GOP’s ability to do that.
Meanwhile, if we get a good census count, and if suburban Blacks complete their census forms, Democrats will have a strong redistricting case, under the Voting Rights Act, to include the Black enclaves in Hendricks County off of West 56th Street, west of Raceway Road and in Hancock County off of East 56th and near Carroll Road.
If those of you living in Pike, Lawrence, Warren and Wayne Townships return your census forms, there could be the chance to elect more Blacks to local school boards when school board redistricting is done in 2011.
And with the increasing percentage of Pike’s Black population, that township school district’s system of At-Large elections couldn’t withstand a Voting Rights Act challenge.
Also, depending on the growth of Blacks living inside the Wayne Township school district, their at-large elections could also be in jeopardy.
It’s now estimated that there’s more than a quarter-million African Americans in Indianapolis. But that is just an estimate using births, deaths and administrative records.
You have the power to make that number not a guesstimate, but a reality.
Just by spending 10 minutes answering 10 non-invasive questions on your 2010 Census questionnaire. Finish it, place it in the postage paid envelope and leave it in your mailbox for your letter carrier. Take it to the post office or your mailbox. Mail it where you work.
If you need help, call (866) 872-6868 or get help at www.2010census.gov.
Our community can’t move forward until you mail it back!
What I’m Hearing
in the Streets
It’s the latest abomination from the hard-hearted Scrooges and Simon Legrees running the Indy Parks who’ve decreed that the Wes Montgomery Park pool in Warren Township won’t be rebuilt.
I warned last December in this space that the bureaucratic cowards at Indy Parks were planning such a draconian move. Wes Montgomery is one of just two pools in Warren Township, and the only one in a Black-majority non-inner-city neighborhood.
Indy Parks and city officials defend their move saying that pools like “Lashana Bates and Bethel Park, in the ‘urban core,’ ” are being refurbished. The unsaid message is “we’ve fixed up two pools for you Black folks, be satisfied.”
Well, a community of 250,000 isn’t satisfied with tokenism. And while it’s great that there are nine swimming pools serving Center Township, it’s an area containing less than 25 percent of the city/county’s Black population.
The more than 20,000 people living within two miles of Wes Montgomery’s pool are larger than the populations surrounding many Indy Park pools.
Indy Park’s pool infrastructure is woefully out of balance compared to where people actually live. Seventy-four percent of Indy Park’s pools are in Center and Wayne Townships. The other townships have just one, save Decatur Township which has none.
Indy Park’s decision is all wet!
At a time when there weren’t African-American PR directors at our city’s arts institutions, Donna Lolla broke a barrier. After leaving a great career as Public Affairs Director at WISH-TV/Channel 8, Lolla went to the Children’s Museum as director of public relations.
During a time of major changes at the Museum, Lolla represented her institution well, and shined as one of the few African Americans in the PR field.
Lolla passed away two weeks ago from cancer. Her broadcasting and public relations work brought credit to her and the institutions she worked for. My deepest sympathies to Lolla’s family and the Children’s Museum family on their loss. Donna was a class act and she’ll be truly missed.
See ‘ya next week!