WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), reintroduced a resolution honoring Arab American Heritage Month, a month-long celebration held in April to recognize the incredible contributions Arab Americans have made in the United States.
“It is an honor to introduce a resolution uplifting Arab American Heritage Month for the third year,” said Rep. Tlaib. “As an Arab American woman in Congress, I know how important it is to ensure we do all we can to make sure Arab Americans know that we belong in the United States and to show appreciation for our contributions to this country. Arab Americans make the United States a better place and I look forward to seeing this resolution adopted.”
As reported by History.com, National Arab American Heritage Month has been unofficially observed during the month of April since 2017 to celebrate the rich and diverse culture and contributions of Arab Americans to the United States. An estimated 3.7 million Americans have Arab roots, with ancestries traced to 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others.
“Arab Americans are thrilled to learn Congress will formally recognize Arab American Heritage Month with a joint resolution,” said Warren David, president of Arab America and co-founder of the Arab America Foundation. “For over 150 years, Arab Americans have made significant contributions to America’s society, culture, and diversity and this legislation is a testament to that fact.”
As a historically marginalized community, Arab Americans – and the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) community at large – continue to face discrimination in all sectors of our society, including in federal programs and policies. MENA Americans still don’t have a racial or ethnic identifier on forms like the Census, forcing them and other individuals who identify as MENA to choose “White” or “other.” This systemic erasure means that the U.S. government has little to no solid data on the scale and effects of anti-MENA discrimination in America. It also means that MENA communities are shut out of government programs designed to combat the consequences of their historic marginalization, further entrenching economic, social and public health inequities.
“We thank Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell for introducing this resolution, which recognizes, addresses, and celebrates the contributions which Arab Americans have made to this country,” said Rima Meroueh, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities. “Arab Americans are incredibly proud of our heritage, which represent the ties which bind our communities together. Throughout the last century, these ties have also bonded us to our fellow Americans. This resolution truly expresses the sense that these ties bind Arab Americans to the broader social fabric of an increasingly diverse America. At the same time, this resolution recognizes the discrimination and systematic erasure from Federal demographic data our communities have faced throughout the last century. At this stage, it is pivotal that Arab Americans be recognized for the contributions we have made to this country’s growth and prosperity. These contributions are the foundation for the prosperous future we intend to build with our fellow Americans. Such a future necessarily includes recognition of Arab Americans in Federal data, redress of systemic discrimination, and celebration of Arab American heritage.”
40 states and territories, numerous major cities and counties, the State Department and President Biden have all taken steps to formally or informally recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month. Adding Congress’ voice to that list is a key step on the path towards rolling back the systemic erasure of the Arab American community and celebrating the countless ways in which they make our country a better place every day.
Congresswomen Tlaib and Dingell previously led the introduction of a resolution honoring Arab American Heritage Month last year. This year the legislation has been endorsed by: Arab America, the Arab America Foundation, the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS).
The full text of the newly introduced resolution can be read here.
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