Now the administration is trying to change the census so Middle Eastern people have their own category.
From USA Today:
The White House is putting forward a proposal to add a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa under what would be the biggest realignment of federal racial definitions in decades. If approved, the new designation could appear on census forms in 2020 and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research. Under current law, people from the Middle East are considered white, the legacy of century-old court rulings in which Syrian Americans argued that they should not be considered Asian — because that designation would deny them citizenship under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. But scholars and community leaders say more and more people with their roots in the Middle East find themselves caught between white, black and Asian classifications that don't fully reflect their identities.So they feel being classified as white doesn’t “fully reflect their identities.” And it’s all about their identities, not about the well-being of our nation.
By Gregory Korte, USA Today, October 1, 2016
Plus they’d be eligible for government goodies and would have preference over European-origin whites in Affirmative Action. No wonder it sounds so popular.
"What it does is it helps these communities feel less invisible," said Helen Samhan of the Arab American Institute, which has been advocating the change for more than 30 years. "It’s a good step, a positive step."
Notice that, in order to make such a change palatable, she uses the languages of “feelings”. That’s what it’s about, “feelings” and power.
On Friday [September 30th], the White House Office of Management and Budget advanced the proposal with a notice in the Federal Register, seeking comments on whether to add Middle Eastern and North African as a separate racial or ethnic category, which groups would be included, and what it should be called.So if you have a comment on this, get over to the Federal Register and make it known.
Under the proposal, the new Middle East and North African designation — or MENA, as it's called by population scholars — is broader in concept than Arab (an ethnicity) or Muslim (a religion). It would include anyone from a region of the world stretching from Morocco to Iran, and including Syrian and Coptic Christians, Israeli Jews and other religious minorities.Wait a minute, if Israeli Jews are included in the MENA category, what about American-born Jews? Will be considered as MENA?
See how complicated this can be?
But the Census Bureau, which has been quietly studying the issue for two years, also has gotten caught up in debates about some groups — such as Turkish, Sudanese and Somali Americans — who aren't included in that category. Those are issues the White House is trying to resolve before adding the box on 2020 census forms.So the plan has complications.
Adding a box on the census form could have implications beyond racial identity. According to the White House notice, the new data could be used for a wide range of political and policy purposes, including:Translation: this change would mean more government expense, more intrusive Big Government and more discrimination against European-origin white Americans.
Adding the classification also would help the government and independent scholars understand more about trends in health, employment and education.
- Enforcing the Voting Rights Act and drawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries;
- Establishing federal affirmative action plans and evaluating claims of employment discrimination in employment in the private sector;
- Monitoring discrimination in housing, mortgage lending and credit;
- Enforcing school desegregation policies; and
- Helping minority-owned small businesses get federal grants and loans.
"We can't even ask questions like that, because we don't have the data," said Germine Awad, an Egyptian-American and professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
The racial classifications have been unchanged since 1997, and Michigan's congressional delegation has argued that they're due for an update. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Friday the White House action was good news. Adding a MENA category, she said, would allow many of her Michigan constituents to "accurately identify themselves and access the employment, health, education and representation services that are based on census data.”Right, “access the…services”. Government goodies subsidized by the taxpayer.
There are an estimated 3.6 million Arab-Americans in the United States, but that doesn't include other ethnic groups that could put the total Middle Eastern and North African population above 10 million. According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey — a survey conducted in between the 10-year census cycle based on a statistical sample — about 1 million people from the region are first-generation immigrants to the United States.And if Hillary wins, you can expect a lot more from where they came from.
In the 2010 census, many Middle Easterners skipped the question entirely — an action some activists encouraged as a form of silent protest. "Check it right; you ain't white," went one campaign. "You have individuals within this designation that would consider themselves white, and they certainly have a right to their identity. It’s not about identity in the psychological way. It’s about where would you fit the best on this form," Awad said. "If you talk to anybody at the census, they’ll tell you that their job is not to help anybody with their racial or ethnic identity."It’s certainly not about assimilation is it? It’s about identity, non-traditional identities that don’t feel comfortable with the traditional American nation.
On the other hand…
And some, especially in the Muslim-American community, are also concerned about how the data might be used — especially given proposals by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for a moratorium on Muslim immigrants and for increased surveillance of Muslim communities.So does that mean Professor Beydoun is against the change. Well, no…
"It just aids and facilitates the state's ability to know where these communities are in a very specific fashion," said Khalid Beydoun, a law professor at the University of Detroit. "My inclination is to think that individuals who might identify might not check the box for fear of retribution — especially if Trump wins."
But Beydoun, a naturalized citizen with Egyptian and Lebanese parents, said he still supports the proposal as an expression of Middle Eastern identity.And that’s what counts, right? Expressing their Middle Eastern identity. So did they not come here to become Americans?
"In the grand scheme of things, it’s really a progressive stride forward," he said. "But in the broader landscape, it’s taking place in the context of greater animus against Arab Americans, and really, Islamophobia."And in the even broader landscape, what Beydoun calls “Islamophobia” exists because certain members of a certain Middle Eastern religion are involved in so much violence.
Comments on the proposal are due in 30 days, making it possible for the Obama administration to enact the change in the last three months of a presidency that has spent considerable effort to be more inclusive of Arab-Americans and other Middle Easterners.If you’d like to weigh in on this, make some comments in the next 30 days.
"I think with him being the first African-American president and being an obvious example of making the American fabric more diverse, that this could be great sign of inclusion about what it means to be an American," Awad said.Yeah, “what it means to be an American”. Transforming America, in other words.