Internet anonymity is a myth, reader: we know plenty about you. Chances are you’re an English-speaker (it’s also likely you’re a dorky wonk, but whatever), and chances are you WILL be counted next year in the 2010 edition of the United States Census, or what Vincent Pan of Chinese for Affirmative Action dubbed “the oldest ongoing form of mass institutionalized racism” in dese United States.
What’s got Pan so upset — and what dragged City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu out to the same press fete this afternoon? As has been said before but the above gentlemen said it again today, but there could be as many as 900,000 people living in San Francisco, not 793,000 or whatever, and they’re not being counted because the US Census only sends out its forms in English and Spanish (and sometimes just English), leading Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and pig Latin speakers to toss the forms into the recycling rather than fill them out, return them, and watch the Federal government make it rain upon them afterward.
What’s that you say? Money? Indeed: monolingual English speakers and SFGate commenters are affected by this, too — as has been said before, the city might have lost out on as much as $30 million a year since 2000 in federal cash, monies it would have received if San Francisco’s official books included more people, or specifically, more folks of minority descent. So it matters very much if the 14 folks crammed into a two-room apartment on Jones are all counted.
How can this happen? If camera and toy companies can print instruction manuals in six languages, why can’t the census mail out forms in six languages out to everyone? Chiu and Herrera mean to find out. The City Attorney’s Office is playing investigative reporter (thank God, somebody has to) and is filing Freedom of Information Requests at the US Census Bureau to find out why the office is sending out notifications and forms in only English and Spanish, Herrera said.
But even if you speak English it’s possible that the Census has missed you, too — according to some reports (found via what is possibly our second-favorite Blogger-powered blog name behind the Nation of Islam Sportsblog), black Americans are also undercounted by the evil racist Census.
This is not the last we’ll hear of this — the city is mulling over its legal options (and has sued the Census Bureau in the past), noted Herrera and Chiu, and the city is considering what it can do by itself to both send out multilingual workers and send out multilingual census forms.
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