What MacArthur Park looks like in numbers

 

The thing about the census in an immigrant Latino community

The census, a questionnaire that comes around every 10 years, is meant to count every person and household to then help with redistricting, appropriation of local and federal funds, and demographic studies. The only thing some immigrants see, however, is a piece of paper from the U.S. government asking personal information.

Newer immigrants may not even know what a census is. Some immigrants may encounter a language barrier. This is especially true in MacArthur Park where a Guatemalan’s only translated option is Spanish or English. Spanish is usually a Guatemalan’s second language, as there are 24 indigenous Mayan languages that don’t directly correlate with Spanish. English can be a person’s third language. The biggest misconception, though, is that if you are illegal, and you fill out the census, you will be deported.

That’s why in 2010, the Census Bureau created several media campaigns trying to break this myth. They pleaded through television, radio and bus ads that filling out the census will not get you deported; it will actually help you and the community around you. An accurate count can provide funding for more hospitals, schools, transportation, and other local projects.

The Los Angeles census bureau especially took this to heart in the MacArthur Park area. On the last day to turn in the census, they ¬†threw a free concert called “Rock the Census” in the park. Their goal was to reach out to Latino youth- who may have been born in the U.S. and speak English fluently from their classrooms- to encourage their apprehensive parents to fill out the paper. Hundreds showed up to the park stimulated by the sounds of popular Latino music groups and DJs, and were greeted by census workers holding forms and pens.

The thing is, we may not know for quite some time if this worked. While the U.S. Census Bureau has counted how many Angelenos there are in the city, and how many residents there are in the county, they don’t break down specific neighborhoods like Miracle Mile, Silverlake, USC area, and yes, MacArthur Park. And, they don’t usually tally up income levels, education levels, and housing (rent verses own) for these individual neighborhoods. That task falls to local departments, or academic institutions, to count and figure out what the data has to tell us.

Dr. Dowell Myers, a professor at USC’s school of Policy, Planning and Development ¬†and Director of Population Dynamics Research Group said in an email that the Los Angeles Department of City Planning usually counts census “tracts” for each neighborhood. However, when the department of city planning was contacted for the latest numbers, an email was sent from Neighborhood Liaison Claudia Rodriguez saying the city’s funding to keep this information updated has recently been cut.

Unfortunately, unless a researcher or group has a specific interest in the MacArthur Park/Westlake area, the numbers will not be readily available for the public, and therefore this project.

 

 

 

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