08-20-09 American Arabs should reject paid activists messages on U.S. Census fight

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Fighting the Census exclusion of Arabs on form is about empowerment
By Ray Hanania —
The U.S. Government has done a great job hiring Arabs in our community to shill for their cause, to continue to oppress our community. The focus on the effort is the U.S. Census.I want you to notice something. Everyone one pimping and pushing for the American Arab community to “participate” in the U.S. Census are all PAID by the U.S. Government to tell us to fill out the census form.They lie that filling out the census form and “writing in our race” Arab in the little line at the bottom of the form is a way for us to be empowered. And when someone questions their lies, they slam and slander Arabs who argue that we have been misled by lazy, do-nothing Arab activists who have taken the short and easy route to money instead of fighting the long term challenge.

What is the long term challenge? Arabs should be listed officially on the census.

Here is who are now listed on the U.S. Census:

The census form asks for your Race, listing Hispanic, Latino or Spanish Origin. And they ask if you are Mexican, Mexican American (I didn’t know there were two categories of Mexicans), or Chicano? What kind of race is “Chicano?” What country do “Chicanos” come from? “Chicano-stan?”

They ask the same question again on the long form: Are you White? Black, African American or Negro? Are you American Indian or Alaskan Native and they even give you a place to write in your tribe name.

That’s not all. The form asks are you Asian Indian? Japanese, Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Korean, Guamanian or Chamorro, Filipino, Vietnamese, Samoan or Other Asian where they give you a space so you can print your “race” like Laotian, Thai, Pakistani, Cambodian “and so on.”

Oh, they don’t stop there. They ask are you “Pacific Islander” and ask you to print your race like Fijian, Tongan “and so on.”

Way at the bottom, in case they missed someone, someone not so important, they have the throw away line, to check here if you are “Some Other Race – Print Race.”

That is where I have to hand-write that I am “Arab.” And proud of it too, by the way.

Read the full original column that has Rashad al-Dabbagh, who works for the census, and some members of the Arab American Institute targeting me because I don’t agree with their laid-back lack of activism against this problem. Click here to read the column?

The fact is that while these activists are cashing their checks and telling American Arabs, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to be listed on the census form, you can write it in so the AAI can complete their list,” government agencies across America are discriminating against American Arabs specifically and directly because the U.S. Census DOES NOT list Arabs as “Arab” on the Census form.

The federal government requires police officers who pull people over for traffic stops to list the race of the person being stopped. But, they are required only to list those races AND ethnicities listed on the U.S. Census form.

Why is that important? If the race is listed on statistics, communities can easily see if they are being targeted for discrimination by police officers and then use that as “EMPOWERMENT” to demand that the police department hire American Arabs.

But American Arabs are NOT listed and police are not required to list us at all.

In every instance of EMPOWERMENT, not being listed on the U.S. Census means we are denied the ability to confront and stop discrimination, discrimination that is holding our community back.

And all that the activists who are PAID by the U.S. Census can do is attack me ands my argument and tell us little American Arab Sheep to “write your race on the form.”

Well, writing your name on the form does not stop the discrimination and it DOES NOT force government agencies from the top of the Federal Government to the bottom of the local suburban government to recognize the rights of Americans Arabs.

When we ask school districts how many Arabs have they hired, the answer is “We are not required to list employees based on the race ‘Arabs’ and we only list race and ethnicity based on those identified in the U.S. Census.”

I know what the problem is. It’s easier for some in our community to take the handout from the government and keep the American Arabs in a stupor than to find the courage to stand up and change a system that needs to be change.

Arabs should and MUST be listed on the U.S. Census form and until we are, we will continue to be discriminated against, denied government grants, denied government jobs and marginalized in our society.

— Ray Hanania

www.RadioChicagoland.com

This post has already been read 90 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com