Arab American Heritage Month

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Arab American Heritage Month
Official nameThe National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM)
Observed byUnited States, Presidency of Joe Biden, US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of State[1]
TypeHeritage, cultural, ethnic
SignificanceCelebration of Arab-Americans contributions
DateApril
Frequencyannual
Related toList of month-long observances

National Arab Heritage Month (NAAHM) takes place in April. It celebrates the Arab American heritage and culture and pays tribute to the contributions of Arab Americans and Arabic-speaking Americans.[2] This of course does not include or accommodate the vast diversity of other ethnic groups found within the Middle East, tens of millions of which are ethnically and culturally separate from Arabs. The term MENA (Middle Eastern, North African) is preferred to push back against broad racial and cultural generalizations of the region. Many groups are pushing for April to be instead recognized as "MENA" and not "Arab" heritage month, as some claim it would be the equivalent of calling "Asian heritage month" "Chinese heritage month".

History[edit]

Beginning in the 1990s, Arab American heritage was celebrated sporadically in various states at different times of the year, primarily in school districts. It wasn't until 2017 when Arab America began a national initiative to coordinate all states under National Arab American Heritage Month. On April 30, 2019, Arab American organizations asked Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to issue a congressional resolution proclaiming National Arab American Heritage Month.[3] It was then introduced to the house on April 30, 2019, and then referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.[4] The largest and most promising achievement towards federal recognition of the month of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month was the proclamation published by the U.S. Department of State, which was accomplished on April 1, 2021, by the efforts of independent Syrian-American advocate and author, Pierre Subeh.[5][6]

An identical bill was introduced in the House on May 1, 2020, to support the designation of an Arab American Heritage Month but it has not currently been passed.[7]

Some individual states (such as the Commonwealth of Virginia) and 26 others observed April as Arab American Heritage Month early on before any federal recognition was proclaimed.[8] It wasn't until April 19, 2021, that the first recognition on a federal level was issued, which was published as a White House letter from president Joe Biden recognizing April as the National Arab American Heritage Month, otherwise called NAAHM.[9]

Developments[edit]

The United States Department of State has recognized April as the National Arab American Heritage Month. Stating in a public announcement on April 1, 2021, through their official social media channels: "Americans of Arab heritage are very much a part of the fabric of this nation, and Arab Americans have contributed in every field and profession."[10][11]

The recognition of the month of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month by the Department of State was mainly influenced by independent advocate efforts across the United States calling for inclusivity. Most notably the petition and social change campaign by Pierre Subeh, a Middle Eastern-American business expert and author. He orchestrated a self-funded social awareness campaign with over 250 billboards across the country asking the Federal government to recognize the month of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month and issue an official proclamation. His social change campaign called the recognition to be critical as it celebrates Middle Eastern heritage in combatting post-9/11 anti-Arab sentiments and recognizing the social difficulties that Arab Americans face every day in their communities.[12][13]

On April 19, 2021, Arab America and the Arab America Foundation received a letter responding to an invitation they sent president Joe Biden to the White House, in which he congratulated them on the celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month. He applauded their mission and officially recognized April as the National Arab American Heritage Month. The first recognition by a sitting president in U.S. history.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biden, Mr. President Joe (April 19, 2021). "White-House Letter From President Biden to Arab America" (PDF). White-House official letter. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 26, 2021.
  2. ^ "Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month". ThoughtCo. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  3. ^ Dingell, Debbie (April 30, 2019). "Dingell, Tlaib, Stevens, Levin Recognize Arab American Heritage Month in Congress". Debbie Dingell, Michigan's 12th District. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019.
  4. ^ "Actions – H.Res.335 – 116th Congress (2019–2020): Expressing support for the recognition of April as Arab American Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Arab Americans in the United States". April 30, 2019.
  5. ^ "Arab-American Heritage Month on the calendar of the U.S. Department of State' "Managing American Spaces"". Office of American Spaces.
  6. ^ David, Kevin (April 3, 2021). "This Immigrant Entrepreneur Made History by Pushing The U.S. Department of State to Recognize April as the NAAHM". Medium. Archived from the original on April 19, 2021.
  7. ^ "H.Res.948 – Expressing support for the recognition of April as Arab American Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Arab Americans in the United States". page The U.S. Congress 116th Congress (2019–2020). May 2020.
  8. ^ Hanania, Ray (April 2, 2021). "US State Department salutes Arab American Heritage Month in video statement". Arab News.
  9. ^ Biden, Mr. President Joe (April 19, 2021). "White-House Letter From President Biden to Arab America" (PDF). White House official letter. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 26, 2021.
  10. ^ "Department Spokesperson Ned Price delivers remarks at the Daily Press Briefing on April 1, 2021". United States Department of State. April 1, 2021 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Alsharif, Mirna (April 30, 2019). "April is Arab American Heritage Month, the State Department declares". Mirna Alsharif, CNN on April 5, 2021.
  12. ^ "Pierre Subeh thanking the Department Spokesperson Ned Price after delivering remarks at the Daily Press Briefing on April 1, 2021". United States Department of State. April 3, 2021 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ "Officially on the US federal calendar: April "National Month for Arab American Heritage."". Marah Bukai. Al Arab Newspaper London. April 27, 2021 – via Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Biden, Mr. President Joe (April 19, 2021). "White-House Letter From President Biden to Arab America" (PDF). White House official letter. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 26, 2021.