Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of student produced stories looking at the 2020 census.
As someone from a low-income community, an accurate census count of my community could mean a chance to improve the conditions of my community. Everyone’s participation could be beneficial for my community, but according to census report findings by the West Contra Costa County office, Richmond has a low response score, with roughly 30 percent of residents completing the previous census.
Richmond is also considered a hard-to-count area because of the heavy concentration of non-English speakers, homeless and undocumented residents within the city.
I believe this is a result of my community’s fear and distrust of the government or maybe an overall lack of understanding of the reason for the census. I wasn’t aware of the census until recently and didn’t really care for it until I learned about how the information gathered from the census is used.
Besides the population count, the data from the census allows the government to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and distribute federal funds for state, county, and cities.
With an accurate count in Richmond, my community can receive more funding for schools, roads, and local businesses that we strongly need since we suffer constantly from lack of funds that keeps us with poor infrastructure.
With more funding for schools especially, that could mean better supplies, updated school structures, and an overall better environment for students and staff alike that’ll give students the resources and opportunities to thrive. This is important to me because students that come from low-income communities are typically at a disadvantage academically.
Many don’t receive a proper education because of hurdles related to the school’s financial status. At Richmond High for example, there are instances where there aren’t enough laptops for students, preventing them from completing work because various classes’ curriculum are technology-based.
Richmond High’s infrastructure is outdated with rotting ceilings and no windows. This impacts the learning environment and forces students to learn in an inadequate environment.
I want the best for my community and I believe the consequences of choosing not to respond to the census can put residents like me and my family at a greater disadvantage. If funding for Richmond is reduced that would cause an even greater financial struggle for residents, local businesses and schools that are dependent on government money.
Although I recognize that certain groups of Richmond’s population such as the homeless make it hard to complete the census, I encourage those who can, to take the time and complete it. Whether it’s through mail or online, increasing the number of Richmond residents who complete this year’s census can be a beneficial boost for our community.
Vivianna Bejarano is a student at Richmond High School.
This story originally appeared as part of a special section in “CC Spin,” a county-wide student newspaper produced by students at participating Contra Costa County high schools.