STATE REPRESENTATIVE FORD WEIGHS IN ON REDISTRICTING, CENSUS

Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford believes bolstering Census efforts should begin now for 2030. Photo provided by LaShawn K. Ford
Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford believes bolstering Census efforts should begin now for 2030. Photo provided by LaShawn K. Ford

State Representative Ford weighs in on Redistricting, Census

BY TIA CAROL JONES

Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford has been a member of the General Assembly for almost 15 years. He has been a part of voting for two congressional maps. Those maps are based on public hearings and legislators voting on the maps. Those maps are the result of
the 2020 Census data.

“It’s a collaboration of the public and the General Assembly coming together to do our Constitutional duty. We have an obligation, every 10 years, to make sure the maps are Constitutional, and that they represent people of all ethnicities, all races,” he said.

From what Ford has heard about the process of making the maps, it is hard work, because those individuals making the map have to ensure everyone is represented.

The Illinois State Legislature passed a new Congressional map on Friday, Oct. 29. It is awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature. In the meantime, there could be lawsuits in regard to the map, from people who don’t agree with the lines.

In the U.S. Congress, Congressman Bobby Rush and Congressman Robin Kelly’s districts have moved further south. With the changing demographics, the maps have to be redrawn. In hard-to- count communities there might be a mistrust of giving out information to
people, so those communities’ numbers are not accurately reflected in the Census data. That impacts the resources and the number of representatives from communities that are hard-to-count.

“It’s my belief if all the Black people in the City of Chicago, in the State of Illinois would be counted and trust this system, we would have more representatives of color in Congress, in the State Legislature,
as well as city council and other County governments,” he said.

The struggle to convince people to trust the process and be counted, for Ford, is disappointing. Especially since Cook County and other entities spent money to boost the count and convince people to be counted. The efforts still fell short.

Ford believes more can be done when it comes to the Census. He doesn’t think “cramming the day of the exam” is an efficient way to boost numbers. He believes the census should be brought up now, in preparation for the next Census in 10 years. For Black people, being counted as a whole person, is significant.

“Never ever forget that we were counted less than whole, and we should
look forward to the day when we can be counted as a full citizen of this country and make demands that our communities are better served,” he said.

Ford believes having students learn about the importance of the Census
will help increase the number of people counted, the same way voting is taught as part of Civics.

Illinois State Legislature passed a law that would count people who are
incarcerated at their last known address instead of where they are incarcerated. It would start in 2030, making Illinois the 10th state to count prisoners at home. It could mean those Census numbers
would return to communities where resources are lacking.

The Census can be like a two-sided coin. People from communities where they lack resources might now have seen the value in filling out the Census form. But those same communities still lack resources because the people there did not see the value in filling out the Census form.

“If we can make sure that the government takes care of its people so that when the time comes for us to ask them to participate in it, then they’ll believe in the system,” he said. “If we want more people to believe in the system, we have to give them a good reason and build these communities up said Ford.

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