Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Blog

By Jade Zoghbi

2012 Spring Intern

At AAI’s Inaugural Event last Sunday, White House leaders and Arab American supporters embraced Obama’s second term with a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and anticipation for future successes. And as a driving force in America’s political life, Arab Americans look forward to expanding and developing America’s relations with the Middle East, and community leaders are closely following Obama’s next steps to see how he will affect change in their countries of ancestry. As a growing constituency, increasingly recognized in the political and social life of America, the Arab American vote influences the policies towards the Middle East and North Africa, and through their voice, Arab Americans continue advocating for economic stability, accessible education, the protection of civil liberties, and inclusion in all spheres of American life.

At the inauguration event, the celebration of President Obama’s second term began with a joyful atmosphere and comedy performances by GoRemy and Dean Obeidallah. GoRemy’s conversions of popular songs humorously demystified stereotypes of Arab American traditions such as arranged marriages, marking the progressive attitude of young Arab Americans. Once the celebratory remarks had commenced, AAI Executive Director Maya Berry and President Dr. Jim Zogby introduced the evening’s speakers.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised the accomplishments of the Arab American Institute in mobilizing Arab American voters for both parties in the 2012 election. Paul Monteiro, serving as the White House liaison to Arab American communities, emphasized the need for Arab American leaders to remain at the table of decision-making to expand the scope of Arab American public engagement beyond national security and foreign policy issues. He further added that Arab American community should hold the Office of Public Engagement accountable for meeting their needs and responding to their requests.

Attendees used the event as an occasion to reflect on the political progress of the Arab American community, as well as the many obstacles we continue to face. Though Arab Americans now occupy some of the highest levels of political office, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and marginalization continue to plague us at every corner. Nevertheless, the warmth and openness of the event’s speakers was a strong reminder that even though there’s a long way to go, we make more progress every day, and our allies continue to support us along the way.

We thank all for joining us and look forward to uniting efforts in the next four years to protect and empower Arab Americans even further. 

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