Arab Americans

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Arab Americans
عرب أميركيون
Total population
1,698,570[1]
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Arabic, American English
Religion

Arab Americans (Arabic: عَرَبٌ أَمْرِيكِيُّونَ‎‎) are Americans of Arab ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage or identity, who identify themselves as Arab. Arab Americans trace ancestry to any of the various waves of immigrants of the countries comprising the Arab World.

According to the Arab American Institute (AAI), countries of origin for Arab Americans include Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.[2]

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 1,697,570 Arab Americans in the United States.[3] 290,893 persons defined themselves as simply Arab, and a further 224,241 as Other Arab. Other groups on the 2010 Census are listed by nation of origin, and some may or may not be Arabs, or regard themselves as Arabs. The largest subgroup is by far the Lebanese Americans, with 501,907,[1] followed by; Egyptian American with 190,078, Syrian American with 148,214, Iraqi American with 105,981, Moroccan American with 101,211, Somali American with 85,700, Palestinian American with 85,186, and Jordanian American with 61,664. Approximately 1/4 of all Arab Americans claimed two ancestries, Arab Americans, and Arabs in general, comprise a highly diverse amalgam of groups with differing ancestral origins, religious backgrounds and historic identities. Instead, the ties that bind are a shared heritage by virtue of common linguistic, cultural, and political traditions.

A number of peoples from predominantly Arab countries resident in the United States are not classified as Arabs, including; Assyrians (aka Chaldo-Assyrians) Berbers, Jews, Kurds, Turkmen, Azeris, Mandeans, Copts, Circassians, Shabaki, Armenians, Turks, Mhallami, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Greeks, Iranians and Kawliya/Romani.

Population[edit]

Census Bureau 2000, Arabs in the United States.png

The majority of Arab Americans, around 62%, originate from the region of the Levant, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, although overwhelmingly from Lebanon. The remainder are made up of those from Egypt, Somalia, Morocco, Iraq, Libya, the GCC and other Arab nations.

There are nearly 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States according to The Arab American Institute. Arab-Americans live in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C., and 94% reside in the metropolitan areas of major cities. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city with the largest percentage of Arab Americans is Dearborn, Michigan, a southwestern suburb of Detroit, at nearly 40%. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans (403,445), followed by the New York City Combined Statistical Area (371,233), Los Angeles (308,295), San Francisco Bay Area (250,000), Chicago (176,208), and the Washington D.C area. (168,208).[4] (NOTE: This information is reportedly based upon survey findings but is contradicted by information posted on the Arab American Institute website itself, which states that California as a whole only has 272,485, and Michigan as a whole only 191,607. The 2010 American Community Survey information, from the American Factfinder website, gives a figure of about 168,000 for Michigan.)

Sorting by American states, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 48% of the Arab-American population, 576,000, reside in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, and New Jersey, respectively; these 5 states collectively have 31% of the net U.S. population. Five other states - Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania - report Arab-American populations of more than 40,000 each. Also, the counties which contained the greatest proportions of Arab-Americans were in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The cities with 100,000 or more in population with the highest percentages of Arabs are Sterling Heights, Michigan 3.69%; Jersey City, New Jersey 2.81%; Warren, Michigan 2.51%; Allentown, Pennsylvania 2.45%; Burbank, California 2.39% and nearby Glendale, California 2.07%; Livonia, Michigan 1.94%; Arlington, Virginia 1.77%; Paterson, New Jersey 1.77%; and Daly City, California 1.69%.[5] Bayonne, New Jersey, a city of 63,000, reported an Arab-American population of 5.0% in the 2010 US Census.[6]

Arab Americans in the 2000[7] - 2010 U.S. Census[8][note 1]
Ancestry 2000 2000 (% of US population) 2010 2010 (% of US population)
Lebanon Lebanese 440,279 0.2% 501,988 %
Syria Syrian 142,897 0.1% 148,214 %
Egypt Egyptian 142,832 0.1% 190,078 %
State of Palestine Palestinian 72,096 0.04% 93,438 %
Jordan Jordanian 39,734 0.03% 61,664 %
Morocco Moroccan 38,923 0.03% 82,073 %
Iraq Iraqi 37,714 0.01% 105,981 %
Yemen Yemeni 11,654 0.005% 29,358 [9] %
Algeria Algerian 8,752 % 14,716 %
Saudi Arabia Saudi 7,419 % %
Tunisia Tunisian 4,735 % %
Kuwait Kuwaiti 3,162 % %
Libya Libyan 2,979 % %
United Arab Emirates Emirati 459 % %
Oman Omani 351 % %
"North African" 3,217 % %
"Arabs" 85,151 % 290,893 %
"Arabic" 120,665 % %
Other Arabs % 224,241 %
TOTAL 1,160,729 TOTAL 1,697,570 %

Religious background[edit]

The religious affiliations of Arab Americans

While the majority of the population of the Arab World is composed of people of the Muslim faith, most Arab Americans, in contrast, are Christian.[10]

According to the Arab American Institute, the breakdown of religious affiliation among persons originating from Arab countries is as follows:

The percentage of Arab Americans who are Muslim has increased in recent years because most new Arab immigrants tend to be Muslim. This stands in contrast to the first wave of Arab immigration to the United States between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when almost all immigrants were Christians. Most Maronites tend to be of Lebanese or Syrian extraction; those Christians of Palestinian background are often Eastern Orthodox. A small number are Protestant adherents, either having joined a Protestant denomination after immigrating to the U.S. or being from a family that converted to Protestantism while still living in the Middle East (European and American Protestant missionaries were fairly commonplace in the Levant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

Arab Christians, especially from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, continue to immigrate into the U.S. in the 2000s and continue to form new enclaves and communities across the country.[11]

Non-Arab Americans from Arabic countries[edit]

There are many immigrants to America from Arabic-speaking countries who are not classified as Arabs. Among these are Armenian Americans, Kurdish Americans, Coptic Americans and Jewish Americans of Mizrahi origin. It is very difficult to estimate the size of these communities. For example, some Kurds immigrated from Iraq, but also from Turkey and other non-Arabic speaking countries. Estimates place these communities at least in the tens of thousands.[12][13][14] Other smaller communities include Assyrians (aka Chaldo-Assyrians), Berbers, Turkmen, Mandeans, Circassians, Shabaki, Turks, Mhallami, Georgians, Yazidis, Balochs, Greeks, Iranians, Azerbaijans and Kawliya/Roma.

Most of these ethnic groups speak their own native languages (not Arabic) and have their own customs, though some speak their own dialect of Arabic. Also, the distinction between Arab and non-Arab identity is sometimes always blurred. For example, Aviva Uri, in her study of Mizrahi Jews in America, writes that "activists and writers in the United States, both gentile Arab and Jewish, are legitimizing through their various activities and publications the identity of Mizrahim as Arab Jews."[15]

Arab-American identity[edit]

The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan celebrates the history of Arab Americans.
Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015.[16]

The United States Census Bureau is presently finalizing the ethnic classification of MENA populations. This process does not pertain to Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and other religious adherents, whom the bureau tabulates as followers of a religion rather than members of an ethnic group.[17] In 2012, prompted in part by post-9/11 discrimination, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee petitioned the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency to designate the MENA populations as a minority/disadvantaged community.[18] Following consultations with MENA organizations, the Census Bureau announced in 2014 that it would establish a new MENA ethnic category for populations from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab world, separate from the "white" classification that these populations had previously sought in 1909. The expert groups, including some Jewish organizations, felt that the earlier "white" designation no longer accurately represents MENA identity, so they successfully lobbied for a distinct categorization.[19][20]

As of December 2015, the sampling strata for the new MENA category includes the Census Bureau's working classification of 19 MENA groups, as well as Turkish, Sudanese, Djiboutian, Somali, Mauritanian, Armenian, Cypriot, Afghan, Azerbaijani and Georgian groups.[21]

The Arab American Institute and other groups have noted that there was a rise in hate crimes targeting the Arab American community as well as people perceived as Arab/Muslim after the September 11 attacks and the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.[22]

A new Zogby Poll International found that there are 3.5 million Americans who were identified as "Arab-Americans", or Americans of ancestry belonging to one of the 23 UN member countries of the Arab World (these are not necessarily therefore Arabs). Poll finds that, overall, a majority of those identifying as Arab Americans are Lebanese Americans (largely as a result of being the most numerous group), although proportionally, as a group by national origin, Lebanese Americans identifying as Arab Americans may be smaller than, for instance, Yemeni Americans.

The Paterson, New Jersey-based Arab American Civic Association runs an Arabic language program in the Paterson school district.[23] Paterson, New Jersey has been nicknamed Little Ramallah and contains a neighborhood with the same name, with an Arab American population estimated as high as 20,000 in 2015.[16] Neighboring Clifton, New Jersey is following in Paterson's footsteps, with rapidly growing Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian American populations.[24]

Politics[edit]

In a 2007 Zogby poll 62% of Arab Americans vote Democratic, while only 25% vote Republican.[25] The percentage of Arabs voting Democratic increased sharply during the Iraq War. However, a number of prominent Arab American politicians are Republicans, including former New Hampshire Senator John E. Sununu, and California Congressman Darrell Issa, who was the driving force behind the state's 2003 recall election that removed Democratic Governor Gray Davis from office. The first woman Supreme Court Chief Justice in Florida, Rosemary Barkett, who is of Syrian descent is known for her dedication to progressive values.

Arab Americans gave George W. Bush a majority of their votes in 2000. However, they backed John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

According to a 2000 Zogby poll, 52% of Arab Americans are pro-life, 74% support the death penalty, 76% are in favor of stricter gun control, and 86% want to see an independent Palestinian state.[26]

The values of Arab Americans are more similar to those of the Arab world than those of the American population on average, by being more closely aligned to the strong traditional values and survival values. This diminishes with secularization and second and subsequent generations.[27]

Arab American Heritage Month[edit]

In 2014, Montgomery County, Maryland designated April as Arab American Heritage Month in recognition of the contributions that Arab Americans have made to the nation.[28]

Festivals[edit]

While the spectrum of Arab heritage includes 22 countries, their combined heritage is often celebrated in cultural festivals around the United States.

New York City

The Annual Arab-American & North African Street Festival was founded in 2002 by the Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY (NAAP-NY). Located in downtown Manhattan, on Great Jones Street between Lafayette & Broadway, the Festival attracts an estimated 15,000 people, in addition to over 30 Arab and North African vendors along with an all-day live cultural performance program representing performers from across the Arab world.

The New York Arab-American Comedy Festival was founded in 2003 by comedian Dean Obeidallah and comedian Maysoon Zayid. Held annually each fall, the festival showcases the talents of Arab-American actors, comics, playwrights and filmmakers, and challenges as well as inspires fellow Arab-Americans to create outstanding works of comedy. Participants include actors, directors, writers and comedians.

Seattle

Of particular note is ArabFest in Seattle, begun in 1999. The festival includes all 22 of the Arab countries, with a souk marketplace, traditional and modern music, an authentic Arab coffeehouse, an Arabic spelling bee and fashion show. Lectures and workshops explore the rich culture and history of the Arab peoples, one of the world's oldest civilizations. Also of new interest is the Arabic rap concert, including the NW group Sons of Hagar, showcasing the political and creative struggle of Arabic youth.

Phoenix

In 2008, the first annual Arab American Festival in Arizona was held on November 1 and 2 in Glendale, Arizona. There were more than 40,000 attendees over the two-day event; more than 35 international singers, dancers and musicians from all over the Arab World performed 20 hours of live entertainment on stage. Activities included folklore shows, an international food court, hookah lounge, kids rides and booth vendors, open to the public, and admission was free.[29]

California

The Annual Arab American Day Festival is a three-day cultural and entertainment event held in Orange County. Activities include book and folk arts exhibitions, speeches from community leaders in the county, as well as music and poetry, dancing singing, traditional food, hookah and much more.[30]

Wisconsin

Since 1996, Milwaukee's Arab World Fest has been part of the summer festival season. It is held during the second weekend of August. This three day event hosts music, culture and food celebrating the 22 Arab countries. The festival features live entertainment, belly dancing, hookah rental, camel rides, cooking demonstrations, a children's area and great Arab cuisine. It is a family friendly festival on Milwaukee's lakefront.[31]

Notable Arab Americans[edit]

Here are a few examples of famous Arab Americans and Americans with partial Arab ancestry in a variety of fields.

Pageants[edit]

Entertainment[edit]

Sports[edit]

Writers and thinkers[edit]

  • Abdisalam Aato (Somali), film director, producer, entrepreneur and media consultant
  • Diana Abu-Jaber (Jordanian), novelist and professor
  • Hady Amr (Lebanese father), diplomat, founding director of Brookings Doha Center
  • Ismail al-Faruqi (Palestinian), philosopher and authority on Islam and comparative religion
  • Susie Gharib, co-anchor of the Nightly Business Report, listed among 100 most influential business journalists
  • Khalil Gibran (Lebanese), writer, philosopher, and painter
  • Hala Gorani (Syrian), journalist and anchor of CNN's International Desk; Levantine Cultural Center
  • Laila Lalami (Moroccan), novelist, journalist, essayist, and professor
  • Ameen al-Rihani (Lebanese), writer
  • Edward Said (Palestinian), literary theorist, thinker and outspoken Palestinian activist
  • Steven Salaita (Palestinian and Jordanian), expert on comparative literature and post-colonialism, writer, activist
  • Mona Simpson (Syrian father, Abdulfattah Jandali), novelist
  • Helen Thomas (Lebanese), reporter, columnist and White House correspondent

Public figures and politicians[edit]

Business[edit]

Scientists[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In this list are not included Sudanese since, in 2000 and 2010, Sudan and South Sudan were yet one country and yet we only have quantitative data from these groups together. Only the people of Northern Sudan are Arabs, but most Sudanese Americans hailed from the South Sudan. The 2000 - 2010 US Census indicate not the number of Americans of Sudanese (excluding South Sudanese) origin or descent.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "B04003. Total Ancestry Reported". United States Census Bureau. 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Arab American Institute – Texas" (PDF). Arab American Institute. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder - Results". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  4. ^ http://aai.3cdn.net/9298c231f3a79e30c6_g7m6bx9hs.pdf Arab American Population Highlights Arab American Institute Foundation
  5. ^ http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-23.pdf The Arab Population: 2000
  6. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder - Results". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  8. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "CITIZENSHIP STATUS IN THE UNITED STATES: Total population in the United States. 2006-2010 American Community Survey Selected Population Tables.". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  10. ^ "Demographics". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Arab Christians, minorities, reshaping US enclaves". Yahoo News. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "2006–2010 American Community Survey Selected Population Tables". Government of the United States of America. Government of the United States of America. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  14. ^ Ben-Ur, Aviva (2009). Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History. New York: NYU Press. p. 35. ISBN 9780814786321. 
  15. ^ Ben-Ur, Aviva (2009). Sephardic Jews in America: A Disasporic History. New York: NYU Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780814786321. 
  16. ^ a b Deena Yellin (2015-05-03). "Palestinian flag-raising is highlight of heritage week in Paterson". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 2015-05-04. 
  17. ^ "2015 National Content Test" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. pp. 33–34. Retrieved 13 December 2015. The Census Bureau is undertaking related mid-decade research for coding and classifying detailed national origins and ethnic groups, and our consultations with external experts on the Asian community have also suggested Sikh receive a unique code classified under Asian. The Census Bureau does not currently tabulate on religious responses to the race or ethnic questions (e.g., Sikh, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Lutheran, etc.). 
  18. ^ "Lobbying for a 'MENA' category on U.S. Census" Wiltz, Teresea. USA Today. Published October 7, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2015.
  19. ^ "Public Comments to NCT Federal Register Notice" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau; Department of Commerce. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  20. ^ Cohen, Debra Nussbaum. "New U.S. Census Category to Include Israeli’ Option". Haaretz. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "2015 National Content Test" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 60. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  22. ^ Paulson, Amanda. "Rise in Hate Crimes Worries Arab-Americans" (Christian Science Monitor, April 10, 2003). [1]
  23. ^ "Paterson school district restarts Arab language program for city youths". Paterson Press, North Jersey Media Group. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2014-12-10. 
  24. ^ Andrew Wyrich (2016-04-17). "Hundreds in Clifton cheer raising of Palestinian flag". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 2016-04-17. 
  25. ^ "US elections through Arab American eyes by Ghassan Rubeiz - Common Ground News Service". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "Arab american Demographics". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Detroit Arab American Study Group (2 July 2009). Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit After 9/11. Russell Sage Foundation. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-61044-613-6. 
  28. ^ "April is Arab American Heritage Month". Montgomery College. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "Arab American Festival - المهرجان العربي الأمريكي". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  30. ^ Arab American Festival
  31. ^ "Welcome arabworldfest.com - BlueHost.com". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Thomas Omestad (11 May 2011). "Boustany Calls for Clear U.S. Strategy on Lebanon". Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  33. ^ Brandon Richards (28 August 2009). "Crowley native, wife of Kennedy at center of national spotlight". Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  34. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/us/from-petraeus-scandal-an-apostle-for-privacy.html?_r=1
  35. ^ "Steve Jobs' Father Regrets Adoption, Hasn't Met Apple Founder" http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/steve-jobs-biological-father-regrets-adoption-report/story?id=14381769

External links[edit]

Festivals[edit]

Arab American organizations[edit]