Why Racial Justice is Integral to Civic Engagement

Categories: Advocacy, Blog

Civic engagement is at the forefront of the 2020 Stand Against Racism. Our priorities include the 2020 census, voter registration, and the 2020 election. As citizens and residents it is crucial to participate in the election as well as the census. Both will shape the future of our communities and the country.

The 2020 Census

It is crucial that everyone, regardless of citizenship status and age be counted in the 2020 census. It will determine state funding, representation in Congress,and votes in the Electoral College. All data collected by the census is confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S code. 

Children are among the most historically under-counted demographic. According to the Advocates for Children of New Jersey:

  • Nearly $23 billion in federal funding for New Jersey depends on census counts, including Medicaid, hospital funding, Title I school funding, child care, student loans, highway and transportation funding, and school meal programs.
  • Over 15,000 children under age 5 live in historically under-counted areas in New Jersey. 27,000 young children were missed in the 2010 census.

Potential Barriers to Completing the Census

For the first time, 80% of households will receive postcards urging residents to complete the census online. This makes it difficult for families that do not have access to computers or the internet connection. Similarly, this makes it difficult for homeless individuals who would need to rely on public transportation to get to places like libraries and organizations that provide free access to computers to complete the census. Hard-to-count communities include immigrants, formerly incarcerated individuals, and low income earners, partly because there is a belief that the the information collected may be used against them. It is crucial to remind and encourage everyone that their information will be used for statistical purposes only.

Click here for a FAQ and Toolkit about the 2020 census.

Voting and Racial Justice

As we shared in a previous blog post, women and people of color have experienced various means of voter suppression–and it didn’t end with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. It wasn’t until the passing of the Voting Rights Act (1965) that racial discrimination in voting was outlawed. This year will mark 100 years since the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, but all women have had the right to vote for only 55. Moreover, there are still barriers to civic engagement that disproportionately affect people of color. Until recently, individuals on parole or probation were not allowed to vote in local and national elections. This is a damaging byproduct of mass incarceration–how are reformed citizens supposed to adapt and reenter their communities if they are disenfranchised from participating in decisions that may directly affect them? We’re proud that New Jersey is stepping up to restore these voting rights and hope others will follow the lead.

Resources for Informed Voting

YWCA Princeton encourages voting. It is your right, and your duty! We are happy to provide nonpartisan resources to help community members make informed decisions.

BallotReady, which lists content from candidates’ websites, social media, press, endorsers and board of elections for comprehensive, nonpartisan information about the candidates and referendums on your ballot. All sources are linked and verified.

Campus Vote Project works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting.

When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by
changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.

Your voice, your identity, and your vote matters. If you belong to a group that has historically been disenfranchised, honor the legacy of those who fought for your right to vote.