Arab-Americans and Diversity

January 11, 2004

Source: The New York Times

On January 11, 2004 The New York Times reported on the diverse definitions of what it means to be "Arab American," noting that "the ethnic umbrella of Arab Americans includes generations-old long-assimilated families, as well as continuing waves of new immigrants, all with varying religious, cultural and political traditions." The article also discusses the difficulty of assessing the number of Arabs living in America. "Although the 2000 Census allowed respondents, for the first time, to choose more than one race in identifying themselves, the change did not provide a way for Arab Americans to distinguish themselves, because Americans of Arab ancestry — whether Lebanese, Moroccan, Yemini, Palestinian or any Arabic-speaking group — are considered white and are counted only by race, not ethnicity." Only the long form, which went to roughly one in six households, included a question that let respondents write in their ethnic origins in a way that would be counted.