"We Measure What We Value."

Dear Chairman Pacheco, Chairwoman Gregoire, and Members of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight:

My name is Jonathan Cohn, and I am the chair of the Issues Committee at Progressive Massachusetts, a statewide grassroots advocacy group working to advance progressive policy here in the Commonwealth.

A core part of our platform is justice, wherein underrepresented and/or vulnerable communities are protected under the law and treated with dignity and respect and tools for economic mobility. Aims include. That is why we’re writing today in support of H.2681, An Act Ensuring Equitable Representation in the Commonwealth, filed by Representative Tackey Chan.

The diversity in our Commonwealth is a source of our strength, and we are continuing to get more diverse. Our state programs, policies, and investments need to understand that diversity in its entirety, and that cannot happen without accurate data. The demographic groups in the Commonwealth are not monoliths, and without disaggregating the data, we risk erasing persistent social, economic, or educational inequalities.

All ethnic subgroups have different histories, background, needs, and challenges. Without accurate data broken down by detailed sub-ethnic groups, critical needs of some communities in areas such as language, economic status, education, and health could be left unmet. Indeed, they already are. We cannot correct the inequities that we cannot see, and we cannot see them without comprehensive data.

Government agencies that currently collect voluntary demographic data based on race or ethnicity of residents should include voluntary subgroup options for Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, Black and African American, and White. This would highlight and uplift data representing communities including but not limited to Vietnamese, Cambodian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Haitian, Cape Verdean, Ethiopian, Somalian, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Dominicans, and Colombians. We must also recognize the diversity within the Native American, Middle Eastern, and North African communities in Massachusetts, which currently have limited recognition by the Census Bureau.

According to a famous saying, we measure what we value. If we value the diversity of our state, and the importance of correcting systemic inequities, then we need to pass H.2681 as swiftly as possible.  


Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.




Jonathan Cohn

Chair, Issues Committee

Progressive Massachusetts


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