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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Despite meager assistance, Indy has super census response; maybe best in U.S.

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You did good.

Our African-American community, our entire city and our entire state did good and responded as never before to the 2010 Census.

Ten years ago, Indiana tied for eighth among the 50 states in mailing back 2000 Census forms on time, and Indianapolis ranked seventh among the nation’s 20 largest cities. This time, Indiana ranked third among the 50 states and Indianapolis ranked second among America’s 20 biggest cities.

Ten years ago, 76 percent of Indiana and 72 percent of Indianapolis households mailed census forms back. This time, 78 percent of state and 73 percent of city-county households mailed back their forms.

The census response was superlative in Indianapolis-Marion County’s 52 Black-majority census tracts, which contain 59.6 percent of Indy’s Black population. That record-setting response could perhaps be the best response of any major city’s African-American community.

Ten years ago, 3.8 percent of Indy’s Black-majority tracts had census mail-back response of less than 50 percent and 32.7 percent between 50 and 60 percent. Nearly two-thirds (63.5 percent) had mail-back rates over 60 percent; 36.5 percent had mail-back rates over 65 percent, 15.4 percent had mail-back rates over 70 percent and 11.5 percent had mail-back rates over 75 percent!

This time, no Black-majority tracts had mailback responses less than 50 perent and just 9.6 percent had responses less than 60 percent. Some 90.4 percent of the tracts had mailback rates over 60 percent; 75.0 percent had mail-back rates over 65 percent, 40.4 percent had mail-back rates over 70 percent and 13.5 percent had mail-back rates over 75 percent!

Forty-two of those 52 Black-majority tracts increased their 2010 Census response compared with 2000.

What makes the state and city’s 2010 census effort mor≠e remarkable is it was done despite the Census Bureau’s invisible marketing and outreach efforts.

There was great cooperation among Indianapolis institutions and leaders, but it almost didn’t happen. For months, census bureaucrats responsible for initiating outreach and partnerships with community leaders and organizaions failed to do so. Black elected officials, major Black organizations weren’t contacted. Major Indianapolis businesses, institutions and leaders were similarly ignored.

Most times the first contact these leaders and institutions had with the 2010 census was when the city’s complete census count committee co-chair Steve Smith and I began personally contacting and briefing them.

We want to thank Indianapolis for their cooperation. Everyone – business, labor, schools, churches, politicians, neighborhood and civic groups – everyone who was asked responded!

Unlike some cities where local politicians blasted the census, politicians worked together urging census cooperation in meetings and mailers.

Mark Everson, Indiana’s commissioner of the Department of Administration, who headed the state’s census effort, reached out to legislators of both parties, who also positively encouraged Hoosier cooperation.

Hoosiers heard nothing but positive things about the 2010 census – shorter, easier form, benefits to Hoosiers communities and neighborhoods. And despite fears of non-cooperation because of the level of bitterness and distrust of government, Indiana and Indianapolis did just the opposite and led the nation in responding.

Indianapolis’ Black radio stations, which have strongly supported the census since 1980, aired a massive PSA campaign of 3,200 radio ads; despite the census’ decision to spend virtually no money with Indiana minority media.

The census’ ad team had a $300 million advertising and marketing warchest. But literally spent peanuts with Black media nationwide. In many cities where paid ads were spent, census cooperation among minorities declined.

But in communities where minority media rose to the occasion, despite the census’ maltreatment of minority media, the results, like here in Indy, were superlative.

Unlike past censuses, the lowest responding neighborhoods aren’t Black-majority neighborhoods. Instead they are neighborhoods with large numbers of apartments and neighborhoods with growing numbers of Hispanics.

The poorest responding neighborhoods include the apartments on the IUPUI campus, the neighborhoods around Fall Creek, 56th and Shadeland and several far east, west and northwest side neighborhoods, most in the townships.

Reaching out to Indianapolis’ Hispanics is a major weakness of the 2010 Census. Just as census bureaucrats failed to reach out to Black leaders, they did worse with Hispanics, treating that community as if they didn’t exist.

The census ad team assumed they’d reach Hispanics here with ads on the national Hispanic cable networks like Univision and Telemundo. But 38 percent of Indy’s Hispanics don’t have cable. And the census’ decision to exclude local Hispanic radio directly caused many Hispanic households not to mail back their forms.

Plus, unlike our African-American community which has a leadership structure developed over a century and a half, Indy’s relatively young Hispanic community leadership structure is underdeveloped.

On vital issues like the census, Black leadership forgets feuds and jealously to work together. That same dynamic is missing from Indy’s Hispanic community.

For that community’s future, its imperative Hispanic leaders coalesce and engage their institutions, organizations, businesses and media to get Hispanics to respond to the census enumerators, who’re now visiting households, some of which are vacant homes and apartments, to make sure everyone in Indy is counted.

If not their community and our city will suffer a serious undercount.

But, from me, thanks for a great initial response to the 2010 Census!

What I’m Hearing

in the Streets

His reputation is secured as a nationally recognized expert on city governance and operation. So, why would Steve Goldsmith, 11 years after running a city of 870,000, want to be the day-to-day man running a city 10 times that size?

Goldsmith was named last Friday as the top deputy mayor for New York City, a city he’s written about but never lived in. Why at age 63 would Goldsmith risk his reputation in a city that’s hard on its public servants?

Also, if he’s gonna spend full time running the Big Apple, that does mean he won’t be whispering in the ear of Indy’s mayor, as has been rumored the past two years?

I received the sad news that Paul C. Major, general manager of WTLC Radio from 1993 to 1997, died April 15 in Florida. He was 63. Major was a DJ in WTLC’s initial years in the late 1960s and became a successful radio sales executive and manager. He returned to Indianapolis as general manager in March 1993 replacing the legendary Al Hobbs.

Major’s biggest contribution was bringing Guy Black to Indy in 1994 for his successful 10- year run.

See ‘ya next week!

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