Commissioner troubled over handling of race and gender questions on Census

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield attends a Complete Count Committee meeting on March 5, 2020 (Photo: WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County leaders have sent a formal request to the US Census Bureau to reconsider how it handles questions that remain unanswered.

During a Complete Count Committee meeting on March 5, Commissioner Jonathan Barfield and others learned that a person who declines to answer the survey’s questions regarding racial background and gender would be defaulted to ‘white’ and ‘male’.

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“As an African-American man who is a leader in this community, I found the revelation troubling and something i sincerely hope the Census Bureau will reconsider,” Barfield wrote in the letter. “Our committee consists of community leaders from a variety of races and ethnic backgrounds. Every member was shocked to learn this development.”

Census data is used for a host of priorities, including hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid and to determine legislative representation at the state and federal level.

Barfield is concerned that defaulting non-answers to ‘white’ and ‘male’ could skew the data that will be used for the next 10 years to determine federal spending and representation.

In the letter Barfield asks that the Bureau performs follow-up work with those who do not answer the questions pertaining to race and gender.