The U.S. Census, one of the most dysfunctional government agencies in America, is stumbling through a process to respond to criticism.
This time, they plan to expand recognition of Hispanics while still dragging their feet on adding the word “Arab” to the category.
There are more than 4.5 million Americans of Arab heritage in this country and yet they are not counted by the U.S. Census, whose accounting process of categorizing American citizens by race, religion and ethnicity determines how more than $400 billion in community support is dispensed.
Yes, the money, paid for by taxpayers that include American Arabs, is given to ethnic groups to support their public efforts if they are recognized by the U.S. Census. Because the U.S. Census does not recognize “Arab,” people of Arab heritage and organizations that service American Arabs do not receive funds for those efforts.
In other words, American Arabs who work hard and pay their taxes, don’t benefit from the tax pool that id dispersed to every other ethnic and racial group in this country.
It’s hard not to believe they are being excluded because of intentional purpose if not by a stated policy.
The Census is taken every 10 years with supplemental drives in between. The form offers the public to identify themselves by ethnic and racial groupings but only offers these categories, which clearly exclude anyone who comes from the Arab World which consists of 22 countries and more than 422 million people.
The World population is just over 7 billion. That means that Arabs make up almost 7 percent of the World’s population.
And yet, Arabs are not counted in America’s Census.
One can easily argue it is intentional, that it is the result of a policy that excludes Arabs, and that it is a form of discrimination in a national that asserts itself to be the champion of free speech and civil rights.
The act of exclusion in Democracies is on its face an outright act of discrimination. And, when that exclusion is based on race, it is racism.
The Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are based on self-identification.
The OMB “requires” (according to its website) the recognition of five specific categories of race or ethnicity: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
The Census uses many forms, but this is the primary form used in 2010 for detailed answers.
Question 8: Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin? No, not of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano. Yes, Puerto Rican. Yes, Cuban. Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin — Print origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.
Question 9. What is Person 1’s race? Mark one or more boxes. White, Black, African Am., or Negro, American Indian or Alaska Native — Print name of enrolled or principal tribe. Asian Indian. Chinese. Filipino. Other Asian — Print race, for example, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian, and so on. Japanese. Korean. Vietnamese. Native Hawaiian. Guamanian or Chamorro. Samoan. Other Pacific Islander — Print race, for example, Fijian, Tongan, and so on.
In a separate Box after all these is this: Some other race — Print race.
In 2010, the Census added the Word Lebanese, rather than Arab in some forms. Lebanese is one of 22 Arab nationalities. It also represents what is believed to be the largest Arab group in the US, but since the census doesn’t count all Arabs, we don’t really know, do we?
After a protest from African American groups, the Census decided it would drop the term “Negro” because it is insensitive to African Americans, or Blacks. (They get three categories now and now only two.)
The term “Hispanics” might be added as a “mutually exclusive group” in addition to the terms, whatever that means, but Hispanics don’t seem happy about it.
One of the big problems is that instead of reaching out to representative organizations in the country, the U.S. Census is playing politics and reached out to one organization in Washington, which has helped President Obama raise money.
I think it is safe to say that President Obama has been a big disappointment to American Arabs. Obama took a beating because his critics alleged that he is really a “Muslim.”
In the ignorance of American education, or lack there of, the terms “Arab” and “Muslim” are used interchangeably by Americans, public officials, the news media and practically everyone else. Ironically, the majority of Arabs are Christian, not Muslim, but we can’t confirm that because the Census doesn’t ask.
The Arab groups with institutional clout don’t care. They exploit the interchange-ability of the words “Arab” and “Muslim” to their financial advantage and to Obama’s political needs.
It’s safe to say that regardless of what the U.S. Census changes on the forms in 2020, it won’t be enough. It will be screwed up. It will be the result of bureaucracy and politics.
The so-called representatives of Arabs in Washington D.C. represent no one except themselves. They do a good job getting jobs for their family members and are led by presidents for life.
The Muslim groups don’t represent Arabs because the majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the World are non-Arab (Pakistani, Asian, etc.) Only about 22 percent of Muslims are Arab.
Yes fellow American Arabs. Once again, we are going to be cheated by the American government. The hard earned dollars we pay in Taxes to the U.S. Government will be given to other ethnic groups, because we don’t count. Our so-called American Arab leadership is pathetically ineffective, dysfunctional and run by presidents-for-life who are worse than the Arab World dictatorships.
Don’t expect anything to improve.
And Americans wonder why Arabs are always so angry.
Ray Hanania is the Managing Writer of the Arab Daily News online news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions.In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also writes for Al Jazeera English. Hanania has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.