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Census & Identity

There is currently no category on the U.S. Census that includes Arab-Americans. Under current Census Bureau standards, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) responses are classified as “White.” This classification results in the MENA community not being accurately counted on the Census.  Not being counted on the Census means that the government is not able to allocate resources towards providing our community with certain services and opportunities that are available to populations which are counted on the Census. Inclusion of a MENA category would have a positive impact on our community: The government uses Census data to determine whether to provide equal opportunity services for minority communities including language assistance, educational grants, and funding for cultural competency training.   For instance, minority language populations that our counted in the Census receive translation services at polling places according to the Voting Rights Act.  The data would also allow school districts with large populations of Arab-Americans to receive funding for cultural competency training and more English language programs. Being counted in the Census would also allow for more effective implementation, monitoring, and enforcement of civil rights protections for our community, such as protection from discrimination in hiring practices. Additionally, the data would also help health professionals to research health issues that are ethnic-specific, such as lactose intolerance. Therefore, it is important for the Arab-American community to take action to make sure that we are counted on a list that would actually benefit our community by providing us with equal opportunities and services. See ADC Comments to the U.S. Census Bureau on the MENA Category TAKE ACTION: Support the MENA Category on the U.S. Census ADC’s work to promote accurate and inclusive data collection on the MENA population: As a Board Member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, ADC has been working with a coalition of national organizations to ensure a fair and accurate 2020 Census. The Leadership Conference is a diverse coalition of more than 200 national organizations that work to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Over the past year, the Leadership Conference has worked to examine the Census Bureau’s research and testing program from the perspective of civil rights stakeholders, including ADC. In November of 2014, the Leadership Conference released a report titled “RACE and Ethnicity in the 2020 Census: Improving Data to Capture a Multiethnic America.”  Following the release of the report, the Leadership Conference held a press conference with ADC President Samer Khalaf and representatives from the Latino and Asian American communities to discuss the civil rights implications of changes to 2020 census, including the possible addition of the MENA category. ADC has continued its efforts to discuss identity within communities from the Middle East and North Africa.  ADC circulated an identity questionnaire to gather data about how ADC’s supporters identify, and encouraged the community to express their identity through the #MyIdentity campaign.  The report on the survey results is available here. ADC also held a panel session at the 2014 National Convention devoted to discussing identity. The panel was titled, “Racial, Religious and Ethnic Self-Identification: Beyond Categories.” The panel addressed the history of the Census categories, as well as the need for a category that accurately identifies communities from the Middle East and North Africa.   Related Actions: ADC Encourages Members to Complete and Mail back Census 2010 Forms:  It’s In Our Hands! (2010) ADC, ACLU, and JACL Alarmed that Census Violated Privacy in World War II, Urge Congress to Ensure Similar Actions Are Not Happening Now (2007) Census Issues “Interim” Policy Change (2004) ADC Presses CBP on Census Data (2003) US Census and Discriminatory Hiring Practices (2001)