Clients already trust them with their hair, and, often, their secrets. Now, some black hairdressers are hoping their customers will believe them when they say just how important it is to participate in the census.
“Barbers and stylists spend more time with people in the community than doctors” said Cathryn McGill, chair of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Complete Count Committee. “If we’re talking about trusted messengers, they’re our trusted messengers.”
The New Mexico Black Leadership Council and ABQ Hair CARES teamed up Sunday afternoon for a presentation to a handful of local hairdressers about the nine-question, 10-minute survey and how they can discuss it with their clients. They sent them home with posters to hang and flyers to hand out reminding people that the census determines distribution of federal dollars along with things like the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives.
McGill said black people in New Mexico have been historically undercounted for reasons including apathy and distrust of the government. And that’s why it’s so vital to look for non-traditional approaches for spreading the word.
“If we said, let’s have a meeting about the census, no one’s going to really show up,” she said. “But they’re going to show up in the offices, in the salons. You’re going to go get your hair done.”
Nina Farrow a cosmetologist at Lorenco’s Salon, who co-chaired the event Sunday said in addition to reminding clients about the census, Sunday’s participants will be able to answer questions about the surveys.
“We’re trying to educate,” she said. “A lot of people don’t understand it, and they don’t understand how important it is.”
Mylette Clark, owner of Hair It Is, helped with the 2010 census and after Sunday’s presentation, she said she’s ready to start making the pitch.
“We probably see 100 people a week, at least 10 people a day,” Clark said. “Your stylists knows everybody. … They already trust us. We can definitely get the word out.”
Invitations to participate in the 2020 census will begin to arrive this week. Responses will be accepted online, over the phone, through the mail or in person.