Op-Ed: During Ramadan, Count Us In!

Op-Ed: During Ramadan, Count Us In!
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Ramadan is typically a time when family and friends gather to pray and break our daily fast in celebration and deep appreciation for our faith. It’s a time in which we thank God for our blessings and hold compassion for those in our communities who are struggling.

While this year’s holy month looks different because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are still many opportunities for us to practice our faith. Instead of focusing on gatherings, we are prioritizing service. At Muslim Youth for Positive Impact, our youth ambassadors have been busy delivering food for families across the state who are struggling to make ends meet. Another way we are practicing our faith is by spreading the word about the 2020 Census and encouraging all people to be counted.

Ramadan reminds us of the importance of community, compassion, and service. Each of these values call us to respond to the census. During this holy month, Muslim Youth for Positive Impact is working to make sure that everyone counts, because part of being a faithful Muslim is being a responsible citizen. A lot is at stake for our communities.

If this pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that we are all safer when we have a robust social safety net, when our hospitals and clinics are well staffed and equipped, and when everyone can participate in the political process.

Our state’s census response rate will determine funding for our community’s roads, affordable housing, and how many beds are in our hospitals for the next decade. It will even determine how much political power our communities have. So far, over 50 percent of Colorado has responded to the census, but the response rate is much lower among communities of color. It’s critical that everyone responds as soon as possible for the most accurate count of the nation. Taking ten minutes to respond to the 2020 Census can impact the next ten years. You can learn more and respond at 2020census.gov.

Over $800 billion in federal government funding will be determined by the 2020 Census count. When the Department of Education in 2022 makes decisions about how much grant funding to give out for hiring new teachers in Denver, they will use data from the 2020 Census to make that determination.

The census also determines how many representatives Colorado will send to Congress and how districts for lawmakers are drawn. With an accurate count, we will be adequately represented and have a voice in what matters to us. In American history we have plenty of examples of gerrymandering and people being misrepresented in Congress and in their statehouses. An accurate count is the first step to fighting against this and working toward accurate representation.

While so many of us hunkered down at home, the pandemic is teaching us spiritual lessons and underscoring the fact that we are all connected. Whatever happens with coronavirus in the next weeks and months, we will have opportunities for stirring acts of heroism, solidarity and reflection. We will reflect on our world and our creation and use this as an opportunity to show solidarity and to gain closeness to our Creator. We will pray that God enables us to pass this test with beautiful patience, to remain grateful for all the blessings in our lives and to remain hopeful.

The Census is a beautiful act of hope; what we do now matters to our community and to future generations. I want us to act with hope, make a positive impact on the future generations and fill out the 2020 Census this Ramadan.

Born in Afghanistan, Huma Babak Ebadi moved to the United States when she was in middle school. She graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor's of Science, and worked as a software and product management engineer before her passion and commitment to serve her community and her stewardship led her to the nonprofit sector. She is a proud mother of four, and she currently manages the non-profit organization Muslim Youth for Positive Impact as the executive director. She has been with MYPI since the inception of the organization in January 2018.

Westword occasionally runs op-eds on issues of interest to the Denver community. Have one you'd like to submit? Send it to editorial@westword.com, where you can also comment on this post.

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