Latino youth celebrate Census Day through 'Rock the Census'

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Image of the flyer for "Rock the Census' event at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles.

Hundreds of people gathered in MacArthur Park yesterday to celebrate Census Day and enjoy a free concert called Rock the Census.

Musical artists like DJ Destructo and The Fresas rocked it out for the mostly Latino youth who gathered. The message was to stress the importance of getting their parents to fill out census forms.

“The Latino youth have a lot of power in their household, they help their parents with a lot of their mail, responding to a lot of information that they need,” said Juan Carlos Montenegro, a partnership specialist with United States Census 2010 who helps reach out to ethnic and cultural communities. “The youth are a key component to their parents participation in the census. You can be 15 years of age or older to help someone fill out a census questionnaire.”

Latino youths celebrate Census Day from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

KPCC.org interviews several people at a "Rock the Census" event at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 1, 2010.

Montenegro said the census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and affects a lot of decision making throughout the country.

“This data is used to make decisions like where to build new hospitals or where to build a new school or where to direct funds,” he said. “It also has to do with power. It’s how political representation is assigned.”

Stephanie Benegas, a junior at Civitas Leadership School, said she knows the census is important, but she can understand why some people in her community don’t turn it in.

“A lot of L.A. does not turn in their census because they are afraid about undocumented people and immigration coming to their house,” Benegas said. “The census is a big deal to L.A. because a lot of the people don’t turn it in and most of the people aren’t counted.”

While technically the census forms are to be turned in as soon as possible, Armando Mendoza, area manager of the Los Angeles Regional Census Center, said they are still accepting forms through the end of the April.

“People still have an opportunity to complete the questionnaires and mail them back,” he said. “It’s only 10 questions, it takes 10 minuets to complete. We don’t ask for Social Security number, we don’t ask for income, we don’t ask for any personal information. It’s very simple. Just 10 minutes, 10 questions and it’s going to impact for the next 10 years.”

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