LONG BEACH, Calif. – The 2020 Census will offer support in 59 languages, but Samoan is not one of them.
Artist Jason Pereira, who goes by JP, is the artist in residence at the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach. Many of his works are connected to his Samoan heritage.
“I love sharing art with people. I want them to feel like art is an important part of life, not just like as a luxury,” said JP.
JP is working on artwork to be sent out to Pacific Islanders across the nation. They are small pictures full of culturally significant images. He was commissioned by Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, a nonprofit.
The finished products will go on mailers, fliers, and posters. The goal is to bring attention to the 2020 Census and make sure Pacific Islanders participate and are counted.
Notably, the 2020 Census will not be available in several languages of the Pacific Islands including Samoan. JP sees this as symbolic of something bigger.
“The Pacific Islander community isn’t well known, isn’t as well known to the depth that I like to create my art,” said JP.
According to the 2010 Census, 1.2 million people in the United States identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.