Rashad Al-Dabbagh

Posted by Rashad Al-Dabbagh on September 01, 2009 in News Clips

The hilarious yet misguided article titled “Take Your Census Form and Shove It” by Ray Hanania, which has recently been circulated online and published in some Arab American publications, including The Independent Monitor, shouldn’t discourage our community from participating in the 2010 Census.

Yes, Arabs still don’t have our own box, and continue to fill in the blank next to the “Some Other Race” box that we check every decennial, but avoiding the Census is like demanding a change in U.S. foreign policy under the condition of opting out of voting, lobbying and campaign contributions.

Let’s face it; neglecting the Census will only hold us back as a community.
The official Census numbers on Arabs in the United States is currently at 1.2 million, while the Arab American Institute, a Washington, D.C.,-based political advocacy group, estimates the number to be 4 million. Notice the huge gap, and you’ll realize why it is important to make sure that every Arab that lives in America, whether citizen or not, should make sure to fill out the Census form, check the “Some Other Race” box and fill in “Arab.”

In addition, some U.S. cities have a heavy concentration of Arabs. Imagine if all those who reside in cities with heavily-concentrated Arab population decline to complete and send the form, we will only lose government funding in these cities. Therefore, potential funding will go elsewhere.

The Census is about money and power. It is a vehicle of empowerment for the Arab community.

Keep in mind that it takes an act of Congress to change anything on that form. Therefore it takes an active participation from the Arab community by contacting their representatives and voicing their opinion regarding their Arab identity on the Census form. An organized effort by Arab American organizations and citizens should take place in order to be recognized on the form.

So here’s the bottom line, Arabs, fill in the census form and identify yourself as Arabs. To empower the Arab community, it only makes sense that we all participate in the 2010 Census.

Rashad Al-Dabbagh is a Partnership Specialist with the US Census Bureau.

Published in The Independent Monitor September 2009 issue.


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