The 2020 U.S. Census presents a compelling but worrisome tale about the future of America. The Census affirms what some may not be ready to accept: America’s demographics are shifting, Latinos and other racial minorities lead the way, and the White and Black populations regress.
Census data is utilized in the United States to determine voting districts and access to government money and other essential government services. Unfortunately, there were a number of difficulties associated with the 2010 Census. In addition to what some perceived as underfunding, the Trump administration’s perceived racial animosity toward Americans of color resulted in the politicization of the Census during the 2020 presidential campaign.
“Going into this Census, we knew that there are certain populations that had been historically undercounted. Add to that a pandemic and unprecedented efforts to sabotage the count by the previous administration. “You can understand why many statisticians and many groups are saying that closer analysis is warranted to determine whether or not an undercount has occurred, and at what level and where,” said Clarissa Martinez DeCastro, president of UnidosIS, which is the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization.
Latinos and Hispanics currently account for more than 18% of the U.S. population, making them the largest racial minority, overtaking African Americans, who had been America’s largest racial minority since the first Census in America in the 1790s until the 1990s.
However, the Census data on Black Americans is causing some concern. The percentage of Blacks in the 2000 Census was slightly over 12.94% percent, up from 12.0% in the 1990 Census. This time, Blacks made up 12.4% of the population, reflecting a downward trend from the 2000 Census.
Cities across the country showed significant population drops in their Black populations, which has many wondering how accurate the count was. For example, according to the 2020 Census, the number of Black residents in Detroit fell while the Hispanic, White, and Asian populations grew over the last ten years. In a statement Thursday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he plans to challenge the results by pursuing “legal remedies to get Detroit an accurate count.”
Detroit’s overall population dropped 10.5% in the last decade, the latest results show. While Detroit remains a majority-Black city, the African American population fell to 493,212 in 2020, from 586,573 in 2010. That meant Black residents made up 82.2% of the overall population ten years ago, but only 77.2% today, according to the Census.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said last year that she would also challenge the results amid concerns about how the Census Bureau completed its decennial count.
How African Americans are counted is critical, and it will have a significant influence on how congressional and voting districts are drawn. If the Census undercounted ethnic minorities, it would affect Black citizens’ ability to vote and make it easier for Republicans to draw gerrymanders district borders.