Rich Benjamin, a contributing editor and a Puffin Fellow at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, is the author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America (2009). He is currently working on a new nonfiction book that will be a family memoir and portrait of America. (April 2020)
With the obstacles presented by the pandemic, and a truculent White House that has been sabotaging its work from the jump, the Census Bureau is scrambling to count each person and in the right place. An inaccurate survey has very serious consequences: each state’s allotment of representatives to Congress, its Electoral College votes, and its federal financial resources are calculated by the latest count. The entwined crises of the coronavirus and the 2020 Census are exposing a ruthless political economy in which only certain types of people count—a world where the immigrant and the non-white may be essential laborers but are rendered non-essential citizens.