Posted on March 30, 2020 in Press Releases

(Washington, D.C. - 3/30/2020) With less than two days away from April 1st i.e. “Census Day,” community advocates, faith leaders, comedians and celebrities from Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) communities are raising their voices to make sure their communities are counted in the 2020 Census.  

Considered a hard-to-count population, individuals with ancestry from the MENA region have historically been one of the most undercounted populations in America, along with other minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos. 

According to Basem Hassan, MENA Strategy Director for the 2020 Census Communications Campaign, there is a general unawareness of the positive impact that Census data has on local communities and a latent mistrust toward the government about how data collected will be used.  

Understanding these challenges, Hassan and his team of experts worked the last few years creating a campaign based on proper audience research and community outreach to educate and gain trust before the rollout of the 2020 Census. 

“The Census worked really hard to make sure we reach these hard to count populations,” said Hassan. “From producing Arabic language ads for TV, Print, Billboard, and Radio, to translating Census support materials into Arabic to partnering up with community organizations and enlisting the help of trusted voices and influencers, the Census Bureau wants to make sure that every American gets counted and that means every American, including those from MENA.” 

To date, MENA representative organizations from across the country have partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020 Census outreach efforts. 

More than 200 organizations and allies have also joined the grassroots #YallaCountMeIn campaign. This social media and field campaign offers infographics about the Census, videos and other educational materials to help raise awareness about the Census and motivate the Arab American community to get counted. This GOTC campaign, established by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), includes partners like the Network of Arab American Professionals (NAAP), and ACCESS. 

Maya Berry, executive director of AAI, is also an official “trusted voice” for the 2020 Census. AAI has been a leader in advocating for the inclusion of a MENA ethnic category in the Census. In her video, Berry talks about the impact the Census data has on community health research. 

Comedian Amr Zahr created a funny, but instructional video on how to fill out the Census. He encouraged his community to check “Other” and fill in their specific ethnicity. 

Actress Tala Ashe and the MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition, a coalition of MENA artists in Hollywood, released a video on Instagram and Twitter as well. 

Religious leaders also convened at the National Cathedral last month to discuss ways they can get the word out about the importance of the Census among their congregations. Sharif Aly of Islamic Relief USA,  Father Micheal Sorial of the St. Anianus Coptic Orthodox Church, and Hurunnessa Fariad of All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) all produced videos to get the word out. 

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To learn more, please contact:

Edy Semaan
ESemaan@aaiusa.org
315-664-6378