April is Arab American Heritage Month, the US Department of State declares
“This is a breath of fresh air,” said Samer Khalaf, president of the ADC, about the state department’s move. “It will give the community a sense of pride and it’s a chance to show what the community is all about, to educate people and dispel stereotypes.”
Maya Berry, executive director of the AAI, sees the recognition as a high-level opportunity to celebrate Arab American life in a visible way.
“The formality of it coming from an agency at this level is fantastic,” she said. “This month is about sharing our story with our fellow Americans.”
While the state department has dedicated the month of April to AAHM, Arab Americans still don’t have a racial or ethnic identifier on forms like the Census, forcing members of the community to tick “White” or “other.”
The ADC and AAI have been pushing for a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) categorization, which is a geographic designation that includes ethnic and racial options, to be adopted by the US government for decades.
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