The Census Search For Hard to Count Communities

Nguoi-Viet Daily News, News Report, Denise L. Poon Posted: Mar 25, 2010

Another community outreach method is taking place through the recruitment and hiring of temporary Census staff at questionnaire assistance centers like the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance, (OCAPICA), which has partnered with 20 community-based organization in its outreach efforts.

“No one specific strategy incorporates all activities. Face-to-face time with someone who they know, or can be trusted is very important in the messaging,” said Jason Lacsamana, director of youth initiatives & special projects with OCAPICA.

Christen Hepuakoamana’a Marquez, APALC Census 2010 media coordinator is excited that for the first time, Pan-Pacific groups linked culturally ― Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Guamanian and Tongan ― have united to create a Census outreach video.

Marquez also shared the important message with her dance group. “Most Native Hawaiians have family members, or friends, who are affiliated with a ‘Halau,’ or hula school, which is a very effective way to reach out into the community to spread the message, specifically regarding Question #9 and the opportunity to provide mixed-race responses.”

At a recent senior Asian and Pacific Islander Census outreach event, Lydia Lee, a Census Bureau partnership specialist, showed Mandarin and Cantonese speakers some Lunar New Year materials wishing them blessings and emphasizing that 2010 Census participation is simple, important and safe.

Another printed poster shows the traditional circular Sapin-Sapin Filipino dessert. This traditional glutinous rice and coconut milk snack is familiar for its concentric purple, white and orange colored layers. In the poster, a pie-shaped wedge is cut out of the dessert with the message encouraging Filipinos to be counted so they will receive their fair share of more than $400 billion federal dollars that will be distributed as a result of 2010 Census results.

Many criticize how the USCB spent $340 million in ethnic outreach, noting that 47 percent of the 600 ethnic media representatives – from the private sector, not Census Bureau employees- who participated in Census roundtable briefings, were not included in the media advertising purchase.

“The Census emphasis has been on 'trusted voices,' and they fell short because in many cases media outlets are the trusted voice in the community," said Jacob Simas, associate editor of New America Media, a national news service and resource for ethnic media based in San Francisco. "Hopefully it’s not too late for targeted Census outreach, and maybe there will be follow-up advertising to coincide with during door-to-door enumeration.”

Census employees, called enumerators, will go door to door this spring to visit households that have not returned their forms.

Others have criticized marketing intended to spur participation in specific communities. In Northern California, for example, the Native American Hoopa Valley Tribe twice rejected Census Bureau outreach marketing. One advertising poster depicted the image of three teepees in a location that looked like the Great Plains.

Their community's “trusted voices” ultimately advised that the image was inappropriately stereotypical and irrelevant to the Hupa, who live in subterranean housing, in northeastern Humboldt County’s Redwoods.

“Census outreach should address our unique situation ― that we are very rural, everyone has a post office box but we don’t have street addresses, and finally throughout our tribe’s history there’s some reluctance and suspicion to respond to federal inquiries,” said Joseph Orozco, station manager of Hupa Tribal radio.

With $2,000 in private funding from The California Endowment, Orozco gave feedback to New America Media on the advertising. They eventually used a young tribal member’s graduation photo of him wearing traditional dance regalia with a headdress and basket, overlooking the Hoopa Valley and Trinity River. The framing of the print and public service message draws a connection between being counted in the Census and Klamath River water rights. “If we don’t let ourselves be counted," the advertisement says, "they’ll say no one lives here and take away our water rights.”

Martorell, who receives federal funds for the Thai group, underscored the significance of the Thai calendar and the importance of all these targeted efforts. "We need data to back up and justify the need for the people who depend on our resources," Martorell said. "Otherwise they continue to be invisible, isolated and marginalized. No one wants the creation of a permanent underclass. We want to make sure everyone has equal access to equal opportunities such as financial literacy programs, affordable housing and entrepreneurship training.”

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User Comments

Jsmith on Mar 26, 2010 at 09:20:22 said:

An interesting report. I feel for the folks who came here and are still struggling with the language and cultural issues while striving to complete the census. I have a harder time accepting those who choose not to comply with the constitutional requirement. On the other hand, I am certain the government will do their best to ensure everyone is counted, as much as they can.




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