CHICAGO: Arab Americans are renewing efforts for their Arab identity to be recognized in data compiled by the US census.
“The census is important because it determines the allocation of dollars, the political influence, and the representation that we and all Americans are entitled to in the US,” campaigner Anna Mustafa told Arab News. “Arab Americans need, and have, to be counted in the census.”
The US counts its citizens every 10 years, and identifies their interests and national origins. The 24thcensus will take place in 2020, but offers no ethnic identity for Arabs, who are expected to check the box marked “Other.”
There was a push after the 2010 census to create a MENA category representing the Middle East and North Africa, but it failed to win enough support and was rejected in January 2018.
“We believe it is crucial for our community to be counted fairly and accurately,” said Samer Khalaf, national president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
“The only way to do that with any certainty is to have a category for our community. We have been fighting for the category for about 30 years and we will continue fighting for it until it is added.
Mustafa said: “What’s holding us back is our community divisions, as well as people in the US government who don’t want us to be recognized or to have power. In 2000, I felt there was support to have a category for Arab Americans. But what happened was that in less than one year that support for the census disappeared.”