Washington, D.C. | April 25, 2023 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has responded to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) request for comment on its proposed update to the minimum demographic information collected by the federal government. The formal comment explained the multiple ways that the inclusion of a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) category would benefit the Arab American community. The benefits highlighted spanned economics, healthcare, and civil rights, and also emphasized the importance of recognition within the Census.
ADC has argued for decades that the federal government has rendered the Arab community invisible by grouping it with the broader “White/Caucasian” racial group. A social and political currency like no other, to be “White” in the US is to be free from the presumption that you are foreign or inferior, a presumption that is not granted to Arabs. The historical popular and governmental demonization of Arabs has framed the community as political pariahs and national security threats, a dangerous misidentification of a community that is just as American as any other.
This inaccurate classification has had profound impacts on our community’s political representation, our access to necessary government services, the ability of our business community to grow and develop, and the medical community’s understanding of the unique health issues we face. Throughout America’s history the government has never considered that Arab Americans are a unique piece of the American fabric, and OMB now has the opportunity to do just that.
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ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “While OMB’s proposed addition of MENA is important, it is still just a proposal and there is still work to be done. Throughout our formal comment we highlighted the many ways that this recognition will help our community. From economics to political representation, civil rights to health, the erasure of Arab Americans has led to a fundamental misunderstanding of what our needs are. ADC will not rest until Arab Americans are recognized by every level of government.”
ADC National Government Affairs and Advocacy Director Chris Habiby said, “It is not only vital that OMB follows through on this proposal, but also that they refine how they are presenting the MENA category. Accurate and comprehensive information is the only way for the government to make progress in serving and uplifting our community, and every effort must be made to ensure that the correct data is being collected.”