Come to your census

Hey, it’s census time! Like the Olympics, the census comes around every 43 years, makes a big splash and leaves.

Census comes from the Latin word censere, which means “to assess,” but really means “two assess in a room counting all the people that are not like us.”

That’s right. Every 26 years, we get a form in the mail where we check off the incorrect hyphenated adjective for how much melanin was passed down from our grandmothers.

The census is culturally important. At least that’s what we are told. But the census is really about allocating money.

The results of the census are used by our local governments to ask for federal dollars. So, the community where everyone can read and write well enough to fill out the form and send it back will get a lot of moolah. The community that is illiterate, homeless and apathetic will remain that way because they will not be counted. Not counted, you don’t exist, you don’t exist you don’t need money.

Don’t worry, they’ll get another shot in 12 years or whenever it is that the next damn census comes around again.

The census also helps figure out how many representatives are needed in Congress to help pass health care. I think the magic number is 60 per square mile of a McMansion development.

Here’s the part I don’t understand. If the census is taking place in the U.S. for the U.S. and is surveying residents of the U.S., then is it not safe to assume that we are all American? Why all the hyphens? Why all the classifying?

If I were to run the census, which is what God intended me to do, I would ask different questions.

The survey would start off asking about the taker’s humanity. Question number one, “Are you human?”

Then, the next question is, “How do you identify your sex?” And not provide forced options like male, female or at the bar. I would give people writing space. What if on that day I’m feeling like I’m about to pop an Adam’s apple? I feel like I should be able to express that and so should you.

Then, the next question would be something important like, “Are you a U.S. Citizen.” If the person answered yes, then I can safely assume that they are an American. If they answered no, then they need to explain why they haven’t become one. I would also provide a space for those people that have dual citizenship. And only those people get to wear a hyphen on their nationality. In the case that they like the U.S. better than their home country, they would say they’re American-Colombian. In the case that they don’t like the U.S. better, they can just flip it the other way, Colombian-American.

The next question addresses the core purpose of the census: “Do you need money?” with a couple of follow-ups, such as “How much do you need?” and “Do you feel comfortable with us giving your money to your Congressional Representative so that they may distribute it to you as they deem fit?”

Should be easy yes or no responses, don’t you think?

The final question is the skin tone question. I would only ask it because everyone else is so hung up about it, not because I care. I would make the survey’s last page  feature a bunch of skin tone samples, like a proof print out with a bunch of thumbnails, and I would ask people circle the pantone swatch closest to their current skin tone. Undoubtedly, this will help the federal government decide which communities need sunscreen subsidies.

And that’s it. That’s the census. At least that’s what it should be.

I know my way is very time consuming. It would be impossible to run the results through a machine and send a press release with the findings by six o’clock. But, I can bet the color of my skin that the results would be different than the fear-mongering, panic-inducing results of the traditional survey.

Oh yeah, the results are going to be scary.

The news will report that there will be more “These-Type-of-Non-White-Americans” by the time the next census comes around. Do you know what that does to American-Americans?

Maybe even for an added scare tactic bonus they’ll add that by the year 2211, American-Americans will no longer exist in – gasp – America. Then they’ll be shown a demographic map of the U.S. that makes it look like American-Americans are surrounded by Fill-in-the-hyphen-Americans.

And the Native-Americans will laugh and laugh.

Published by Mari

I was born with a widow's peak and a thick accent. I majored in English as a second language. I work ( and travel ( and sometimes do both.

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