By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

You know, when I started Blogging it was because I wanted to get information that I felt was essential to the ECLECTIC BLACK COMMUNITY: You, We, Us, Me.

And this is truly one of those times. You notice the title is DON'T BE SENSELESS ABOUT THE 2010 CENSUS. This message is directly for you, my brothers and sisters, who I consider ECLECTICALLY BLACK.

And as you may have noticed the subtitle of my blog is "ECLECTICALLY BLACK." It's because, I look to all the things that unite us as a people, instead of dividing us. Therefore, I’m not concerned about whether you were born on the great Motherland continent of Africa, or on any one of the Caribbean islands where so many of us were taken during the transatlantic slave trade. Be it Cuba, or Central America, South America and North America, Europe, England, or any point in between (you know Black people really are everywhere) - the undeniable truth for 99.44% of Black people is that our true, historic point of origination is still Africa -- and I think that's wonderful!

So we are all Afro-something - with the residual traits that make us all Black, regardless of the accents, customs, food, dress styles, or any thing else we may have picked up or adapted to along the way.

So when I look at the confluence of cultures we enjoy here in New York, and other parts of the US, I am so proud and pleased to see that we’re still standing, regardless of what we’ve been through over the past few centuries. None of us have anything over any of the rest of us, because we are all carrying the same genes from the Motherland. Thank God for those genes, because of them we have survived -- and in some instances, thrived -- despite the hardships. We have our music, our sayings, our myths, our beliefs. We are all children of Africa -- ECLECTICALLY BLACK, regardless of who else has been in the mix of our gene pool over the eons that we’ve been on this planet.

Even whites, both legislators and slave traders (usually one and the same back in the bad old days), when they began to make a decision as to what constituted Blackness, stated that if a person had one tenth of one per cent of Black blood in their system, they were/are Black.

When President Barack Obama completed his Census Questionnaire, and it came to his selection for “race”, he marked appropriately that he was Black. Apparently this was such a momentous occasion that the news (NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc) announced: “It’s official, President Barack Obama is ‘Black’.” I had to stop and think about that for a moment, and before I formed the words “well, duh!” I thought everybody knew that. But, then it hit me that there were actually some of our own people who had the audacity to question whether or not the President was Black. Thank goodness he didn’t have any questions about who he is. And he didn’t argue with those who did.

Now to where I’m heading with this about being ECLECTICALLY BLACK and the 2010 Census? We share in some measure in all that is Black -- regardless of whether we eat roti, callalou, fufu, collard greens, curries, stew peas or whatever. Regardless of whether we resonate to Jazz or HipHop; Reggae, Calypso, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel Music or Old Negro Spirituals, merengue, kapoera; whether we are the deepest, richest most gorgeous shade of Ebony, or of the vanilla/bubblegum hue; whether our hair is short, tight natural curls; a huge bush; locks, or fried, dyed and laid to the side. It’s all us. ECLECTICALLY BLACK. We are gifted, talented, creative, and strong. We are the good and the not so good.

We have made considerable progress over the last decade, but are still the last hired, the first fired. We have set standards that others find hard to meet, but we are still the ones who have been relegated to being the low man on the totem pole (an old Indian saying meaning the person on the bottom).

But, we now have a chance to change that. A chance that we might blow unless we wake up, and get our act together. And we can do that by participating in the 2010 CENSUS.

The TV commercials have been playing over and over about the 2010 census. Historically speaking, the US has had a Census since the 1700’s in order to make some decisions about where the resources and representations need to be proportionately allocated.

It does not take a rocket scientist to under stand that this means they who have the highest number wins. They who have the best turn out gets to call the shots. Didn’t we just see this in the most recent New York City mayoral election. We have consistently underestimate our strength. Last November, 2009, we pulled our punches, sat on our hands and let Bloomberg squeak by with barely a 2% margin.

Let’s don’t make the same ignominious mistake again with the Census. How much more will we benefit by standing up, showing up and being counted. How many more of our schools will be saved? How many more hospital beds and medical services, and other essential allocations that have been missing from our community can be reinstated? There are billions of dollars waiting to be allocated to our communities to enhance our quality of living.

ECLECTICALLY BLACK PEOPLE make up the considerable majority in many communities throughout the US. And when ECLECTICALLY BLACK PEOPLE pull together, we make a considerable difference in how things get done. Think about it - remember that we were the ones in line by the thousands to vote for President Barack Obama in 2008. We counted then; we count now even more, because by completing the 2010 CENSUS FORMS we make it possible for necessary allocations to be directed to our communities.

I’ve always considered us to be the brightest and the best. So why is it that only 35% of us in Brooklyn were counted in the 2000 census? What’s up with that? Why is it that we are the 2nd lowest respondents in the nation? Please don’t think this is something to be proud of, or smug about. This is not only embarrassing and abysmal, it also points to what might also be an inability to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

But here we are again. Our elected political figures, community leaders, activists, artists, movie stars are literally on their knees begging us to fill out our census forms and send them back in.

The census counts everyone regardless of status! It benefits every one. It determines where the most need is for services and representation. We have people here in the US who have come from other countries - Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean - ostensibly here for a better life, but who are not necessarily here under “legal” circumstances, and who are afraid to complete the census. They feel it may be a means by which they will be forced to return to the country they come from. No matter how much they are being reassured that this is not the case, they are still not complying. If that's you, or a relative, or a friend -- please stop blocking. You are hurting yourself and the rest of us when you don't participate and complete the form.

While I understand and sympathize with the fears and concerns, we have to exercise some tough love in this issue. Let's do a reality check: If you truly did indeed come to the US to live a better life, then you have to see that your not completing the forms is hurting you, the people who live here, and the community you live in. You’re blocking them from their right to appropriate representation.

Additionally, being the kind of government it is, the US is well aware of who is here “legally or illegally,” regardless of your race, ethnicity, color, gender, or where in the US you happen to live. The truth is that if they were determined to expel you from the country, you would most definitely not still be here.

You will more likely be considered to be a potentially good citizen by completing the census form and turning it in, than by trying to evade it. You will be more welcomed as a potential participant if you are cooperating in things that mean progress to the community and country that's providing you a livelihood. If you are cooperating by sending in your census forms, to show that your intention is to be a good citizen it is documented proof that you are working with us, not against us.

And for those of you who are reading this and know of individuals and families who are part of the population, please share this with them and encourage -- no demand -- that they complete their forms and turn it in.

Also note, even though I'm writing from New York, this is relevant to us no matter where we are -- Oklahoma, California, DC, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, where ever we are, we must be counted.

In Brooklyn‘s 11th Congressional District, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke held a meeting to kick off the Complete Count Campaign. "We will not be under counted on my watch. Brooklyn must be counted along with all the other communities," stated the Congresswoman, who has turned her entire staff over to the effort. Dr. Waldaba Stewart, originally from Panama, suggested that those who were born outside the United States should mark Black in the section that asks for racial or ethnic identity. 'However, he continued, "if you do not identify with any of the categories already listed, you may also put your country of origin in the bottom area designated."

Since this blog is directed to those of us who are of African heritage, i.e., Black, African American (and, yes, even Negro), it would be to all our advantage if you mark the category, because we are counted as a whole.

Our clergy also has a important and pivotal part to play in this matter as well. With so many wonderful churches proliferating in New York as a whole and Brooklyn in particular, it would be a simple matter for the various ministerial alliances to designate the next four Saturdays or Sundays for completing census information. It could be easily done during services, passed to the end of the aisle, the ushers could collect them, and they could be dropped them off at the nearest post office for your congregation. In fact, to then have your congregants go out and get at least one additional neighbor who has not completed his or her form, and bring that in, could likewise be of benefit to the community. that would change the 35% considerably.

As stated earlier, We, the Eclectically Black People of the World (I like how that sounds) can be found in practically every corner of the world; and are very much in evidence throughout the United States. It is imperative that we to use our own creative means to bring our people together to complete the 2010 Census.

We can have hip-hop/spoken word census parties; we can have reggae census parties; we can have gospel sing off census parties; we can census completion street fairs; we can have census luncheons; census bar-b-q's; all these would be fun ways to bring folks together to complete the forms and have a good time as well.

Those are just some suggestions. Census forms are available at the libraries, post offices, and other designated centers throughout -- check with your local census bureau to find out what’s near you; or go online www.2010census.gov. Pick up some extra forms so you can have them available to give your friends or neighbors; then, instead of relying on them to mail them in, wait while they complete it, and drop it in the nearest mail box or at the local post office for them.

We know that this is not rocket science. So let's keep it simple. We sometimes have the penchant for shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by overlooking the simple and making the easy more complicated than it has to be. And believe me, I understand the genesis of the whole thing. But when it back fires on us and leaves us with less than what we need to survive, it becomes a case of what my mother, Ruby Love, calls “out smarting your own self!”. We end up on the short end of the stick.

{I don’t know what’s going on. It seems as if I just fell into the cliché bin and I can’t get out.}

At any rate a word to the wise should be sufficient, right? Once the tally is in, and the reality sets in that we didn’t do our part; we will have to suffer through the consequences for another 10 years! You don’t get another chance to make it right; you just get to stew in your own juices, while other communities, who are just praying that you’ll remain in the dark and blow it anyway, will reap the benefits of your ignorance. Sorry if you don’t like the pejorative, but it is what it is; and it is ignorant to do something that will be destructive your and others well being.

Back to the concept of ECLECTICALLY BLACK. We have so much in common, that when people tried to point out divisions between us, I realized that we were still being victimized by the same old methodology of divide and conquer that has been being used against us since the first African man and woman was thrown on the boat and stolen off the continent. I.e., tribe against tribe; family against family, and later color against color. In the US, where the most heinous form of enslavement proliferated, “playing the dozens” was a method that was most commonly used to set family members against each other.

Though I don’t know everything about everybody’s history, origin, food preference, or colloquialisms, I love what I hear when I'm walking through the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx. I hear our various accents, the music, see the colorful fabrics, the jewelry. That's all us!!

Likewise, many brothers and sisters don’t know everything about African Americans. But guess what? If we take the time to explore each other’s history, as well as what makes each of us great right now, we’ve got a life of learning about each other. Rather than focusing on the negative, we should be focusing on the positive empowering energies we each bring to the table -- New York to Mississippi, Africa to Bermuda, Jamaica to Trinidad, South America to Cuba -- and anywhere else in the world we Black people are. Boy do we have lot to learn and to do.

The slave traders (notice I did not say “masters”) spent 400 years learning about us, while at the same time keeping the essential information away from each us. That’s why brothers like Carlos Lezama who started the West Indian Day Parade here in New York; brother John Henrik Clarke; the late John Hope Franklin (my homeboy, originally from Oklahoma); Lerone Bennett, Carter G. Woodson, and Ali Mazrui and so many others are of extreme importance to us in keeping alive the intraconnection we have with each other.

It’s also why we have to reconnect with each other, both through our concentric histories, as well as through this census count. We deserve our share and the only way we’re going to get it is to pull it together. So complete your 2010 CENSUS FORM is in some measure putting the pieces of the puzzle back together for us all.

Fill yours out and make sure your family and friends do also. And those you who have already done so THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!

Nuff said, I hope.

Stay blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

PS: If you got your questionnaire in the mail, please complete it and mail it back; if you did not receive it in the mail, pick one up from the Post Office or Library; or go online www.2010census.gov, and get the info of where to get a form. Deadline for mail back is July 1, 2010 - but why wait that long. Get it done; send it off and reward yourself with a nice treat for having helped your community.
Stay Blessed/Gloria

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