Census Bureau Focuses on Minority Participation as Responses Drop
Prime Opportunity for Southerners to be Heard

A recent article in USA Today commented on the U.S. Census Bureauís tactics for "ensuring" everyone was counted in the next census. With participation in the U.S. Census dropping, the Census Bureau is planning a $168 million campaign that is focused on encouraging minorities to fill out their forms and return them. Ads will be put out in 17 languages across the U.S. encouraging participation in the census, and will promote the fact that being counted will bring federal funds to those communities with minorities.

Participation in the census has seen a steady decline over the last 30 years. In 1970, 78% of households returned their forms. In 1980, 75% returned census forms, and 65% of households returned forms in 1990. The projection for 2000 is 61%. While the U.S. Census Bureau is focusing on counting blacks, hispanics, asians and other ethnic minorities, there appears to be no concern about missing people of Western European descent.

The Supreme Court has made it clear that the Census Bureau cannot use sampling for determining Congressional seats, but sampling is used to determine other things such as the distribution of $185 billion in federal funds for everything from schools and hospitals to highways and mass transit. Partnerships have been struck with 30,000 local governments, civil rights groups, corporations, churches, schools and other community organizations.

Although the Census Bureau is promoting minority participation through the temptation of federal money, this is a prime opportunity for Southerners. If the general U.S. population is going to ignore the census and refuse to participate, then Southerners should make the extra effort to participate.

The Edgefield Journal has been running an ad for a project called Southerner 2000. This is an effort to get all Southerners to declare their Southern heritage on the 2000 census. Several organizations are supporting the cause of Southerner 2000 including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the League of the South and the Alliance of Southern Parties.

With statistical sampling being used to determine the ethnic make-up of the United States, 50,000 Southerners responding and declaring their Southern "ethnicity" could be extrapolated to become several million. If pro-South organizations promote the idea of acknowledging our Southern background on the 2000 census, this census could be a key year for getting Southerners recognized as a distinct people. Southerners could turn other Americanís complacency into a victory for Dixie.

Jeff Adams
October 28, 1999