The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. on Monday launched a massive campaign calling on all Vincentian nationals in the United States to be counted in the decennial US Census 2020.
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, said in a statement that, in 2017, the US Census Bureau American Community Survey estimated that the number of Vincentians in the US was about 24,000, with Central Brooklyn recording the largest share.
She said that, this year, the 2020 Census will for the first time include a question that will allow census takers to identify their place of origin.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Vincentians, also called Vincies, to be counted,” said Mason-Haywood, stating that “if attendance at the Vincy Day USA picnic, which takes place in New York annually, is any indication of the true size of the Vincentian population, then the Vincentian community has likely been underestimated.”
Mason-Haywood said the Diaspora Committee is urging Vincentians, and other immigrant populations, “not to be afraid of being counted, as there are no questions on the census that asks for citizenship status, and there are federally-enforceable laws that prohibit the sharing of individual information.
“Census data is only shared in aggregate,” she said, appealing to her compatriots to “show up and get counted on the census, so we can get the resources our communities deserve.”
To further encourage the counting of Vincentians in the US 2020 Census, Mason-Haywood said the SVG Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc. is launching a social media campaign that will feature Vincentian heads of organizations and prominent Vincentian personalities on flyers.
The group will also host a Zoom Census Panel Discussion in June to coincide with Caribbean American Heritage Month, she said.
The first flyers feature prominent Vincentian Vaughan Toney, chief executive officer and president of the Brooklyn-based Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, and leaders of several Vincentian organizations in Brooklyn, including Mason-Haywood; Laverne McDowald-Thompson, president of the Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), the umbrella Vincentian group in the US; Douglas “Doug” Howard, president of the Vincy Liberators; Oxley Lowman, president of Friends of Sion Hill, Inc; and Gillian Arthur, president of Vincy Cares, Inc.
Mason-Haywood noted that the US Census, which takes place every 10 years, was last taken in 2010.
“Census Day US was April 1, 2020, where anyone living in a household or group facility should have been counted,” she said, stating that Census activities have been extended to Oct. 31, 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This means persons still have the opportunity to record their place of residence on April 1, 2020,” she added. “Trillions of dollars in funding for everything from child care, schools, healthcare, affordable housing, social benefits, transportation and political representation are determined based on the Census count.
“An undercount means that less resources are allocated to those communities,” continued Mason-Haywood, pointing out that New York City’s 2010 Census participation rate was 62 percent, “well below the national average of 76 percent.”
“But in Brooklyn, where the largest Vincentian Diaspora community resides, the census participation rate was only 44 percent,” she said.
Mason-Haywood said her committee’s strategic 2020 goal is “to foster greater collaborations with other Vincentian organizations.”
Last month, she said the committee spearheaded a collaboration with three other Vincentian organizations – Friends of Sion Hill, Inc.; Vincy Cares, Inc.; and Vincy Liberators in a “#VincyStrong” First Responders Lunch Delivery initiative.
Mason-Haywood said “the initiative saw the distribution of 100 pre-packaged lunches to frontline healthcare professionals”, on April 20, at four New York City hospitals – SUNY Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn; Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center; Interfaith University Hospital; and Jamaica Hospital.
She said “it was also an opportunity to support two Vincentian businesses, David’s Bakery and Tastee Bites.”
“The partnership with other Vincentian organizations on the Census 2020 initiative is another important strategic effort,” Mason Haywood said. “The committee pledges to continue its thrust to collaborate with other Vincentian organizations in the future as a way of forging stronger bonds and to leverage the full collective power of the community.”
With the motto “One People, One Nation,” Mason-Haywood said the SVG Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc.’s call on Vincentians in the US to complete Census 2020 is “an opportunity to accurately determine the true strength of the Vincentian community.”
She said the Census 2020 survey comprises10 questions and can be completed online, via phone or by mail.
For more information, persons can go to https://.my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.