Black History Month

Initiative Aims To 'Set The Record Straight' About Black Communities And Earn Them More Political Power

With more political power, Black communities can influence key political decisions made about them.

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Black communities throughout the country wield a great deal of political power (let's not forget how Black voters propelled Doug Jones to victory in Alabama), but there is still much progress to be made.

With that in mind, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza announced the launch of Black Futures Lab on February 26. According to the website, the organization seeks to work with Black people to transform their communities, build Black political power, and change the way that power operates on a local, statewide, and national level.

"The problems facing Black communities are complex. The solutions to these problems will come from our imagination, our innovation, and experimentation," it says on the website. "Changing our communities for the better requires changing a culture that takes Black people for granted and changing policies and laws that make us criminals and keep resources from our communities."

Though Black Futures Lab is only hours old, the organization, which was created in partnership with Demos, Color of Change, Center for Third World Organizing, Socioanalitica Research and the Tides Foundation, has already launched its first initiative called the Black Census Project. As its name suggests, the goal of the Black Census Project is to capture a more accurate picture of Black communities in America, including who comprises them and what they care about.

"The Black Census asks Black communities what we see as the key issues in our communities and asks us about what we think needs to be done to address those issues, so that our lives can change for the better," the initiative's mission states. And while U.S. Census data can supply some of this information, the Black Census Project strives to "set the record straight," especially as the current administration has done little to engage or connect with people of color.

"We have a president that is openly supportive of white nationalist groups and working alongside his administration to dismantle the tatters of what was left of a safety net in this country and also working hard to dismantle organizations that work for the end of economic and political and emotional support of black people," Garza told HuffPost.

According to the publication, the Black Census Project, which is expected to be the largest survey of Black people in recent history, will feature questions on "political attitudes and participation, organization affiliation, experiences with racism and police violence, perceptions of social movements, access to adequate health care and economic well being." 

Garza added, "We want to know about the full breadth of experiences that black folks are having, and we also are asking about our business and what it is we want to see happen in order to address the problems in our communities."

To that end, Mic reports the Black Census Project hopes to hear directly from 200,000 black Americans from communities in 20 states and the District of Columbia. As Garza told the publication, the large swath of data is crucial in capturing a variety of experiences. "We can't say [that] what black people in Oakland [California] are experiencing is the same thing that black people are experiencing in Jackson, Mississippi," she explained. "Black communities are incredibly complex and not to the stereotype of what people have said they are."

Since launching about 24 hours ago, the Black Census Project has already surveyed upwards of 1,300 people online, and starting next month the initiative will be training 100 black organizers across the country so they can knock on doors and talk to those who are the hardest to reach.

"It's time for a survey that really captures the experiences that black people are facing in these communities and it's time to do that in a way that also captures the diversity of communities that black folks are living in," Garza concluded to HuffPost. "We really want to capture the breadth and the complexity of who our communities are and we plan to use that information to influence decisions that are made about us."

Cover image via  betto rodrigues I Shutterstock

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