From white to what? MENA and Iranian American non-white reflected race

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-04-05 18:28Z by Steven

From white to what? MENA and Iranian American non-white reflected race

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Published online 2019-04-01
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1599130

Neda Maghbouleh, Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Toronto

Whereas instruments like the US Census classify Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans as white, racial formation-informed research has established that this population holds an ambiguous relationship with whiteness. I draw on theories of the self and cognition to introduce reflected race as an underexplored dimension of MENA racialization. Interviews with 84 Iranian Americans demonstrate how group members perceive they are appraised as distinct from and, in some ways, subordinate to a hegemonic US white norm. Following initial illegibility (“what?”) in racial appraisal, respondents perceive a classificatory splitting from whiteness and/or lumping with similarly racialized others. In other words, they micro-interactionally move from “white” to “what?” and ultimately, to an uncertain but deeply felt sense non-white reflected race. By turning attention to social-psychological-informed phenomenon like reflected race, researchers can make more full use of racialization and racial formation as the dynamic, multi-level concepts they were originally theorized to be.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,

I’m a bit brown. But in America I’m white. Not for much longer

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-03-22 13:05Z by Steven

I’m a bit brown. But in America I’m white. Not for much longer

The Guardian

Arwa Mahdawi

Colour coded … a large number of US citizens will have to check a new box on the census form if plans to redefine whiteness come to fruition. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The US Census Bureau plans to redefine ‘white’ to exclude people with Middle Eastern and North African origins. It’s a reminder that the identity has always been fluid

We live in a weird time for whiteness. But, before I get into that, a small disclaimer. You may look at my name and worry that I am unqualified to speak about whiteness; I would like to set these doubts to rest and assure you that I myself am a white person. It’s true that, technically speaking, I’m a bit brown but, when it comes to my legal standing, I’m all white. Well, I’m white in America anyway. The US Census Bureau, you see, defines “white” as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa”. Being half-Palestinian and half-English I fall squarely into that box.

But I may not be able to hang out in that box much longer. There are plans afoot to add a new “Middle East/North Africa” category to the US census. After 70-plus years of having to tick “white” or “other” on administrative documents, people originating from the Middle East and North Africa may soon have their own category.

Whether our very own check box is a privilege or petrifying is still to be decided. Middle Easterners aren’t exactly persona particularly grata in the US right now. Identifying ourselves more explicitly to the government might not be the smartest move – particularly considering that, during the second world war, the US government used census data to send more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

A Demographic Threat? Proposed Reclassification of Arab Americans on the 2020 Census

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-13 18:11Z by Steven

A Demographic Threat? Proposed Reclassification of Arab Americans on the 2020 Census

Michigan Law Review (Online)
Volume 114, Issue 1 (August 2015)
8 pages

Khaled A. Beydoun, Associate Professor of Law
Mercy School of Law
University of Detroit


Arab Americans are white?” This question—commonly posed as a demonstration of shock or surprise—highlights the dissonance between how “Arab” and “white” are discursively imagined and understood in the United States today.

These four words also encapsulate the dilemma that currently riddles Arab Americans. The population finds itself interlocked between formal classification as white, and de facto recognition as nonwhite. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the government agency that oversees the definition, categorization, and construction of racial categories, currently counts people from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as white. The United States Census Bureau (Census Bureau), the agency responsible for collecting and compiling demographic data about the American people, adopts these definitions and classifications for the administration of its decennial census. Since the racially restrictive “Naturalization Era,” Arab Americans have been legally classified as white.

Within the context of the pronounced and protracted “War on Terror,” the OMB and Census Bureau may be the only two government entities that still identify Arab Americans as white. Heightening state surveillance of Arab Americans, combined with still escalating societal animus, manifests a shared public and private view of the population as not only nonwhites, but also “others,” “terrorists,” and “radicals.”

Although not a new phenomenon, the association of Arab American identity with subversion, warmongering, and terrorism intensified after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Fourteen years later, broadening antiterror policing coupled with emergent “preventative counter-terrorism” initiatives, or Countering Violent Extremist (CVE) policing, signals that suspicion of Arab American identity is still trending upward. And perhaps, is yet to reach its apex.

This Essay argues that the establishment of a standalone MENA American box on the next U.S. Census may erode Arab American civil liberties by augmenting the precision of government surveillance and monitoring programs. The proposed reclassification of Arab American identity is not simply a moment of racial progress but, I argue, a mechanism that evidences the state’s interest in obtaining more accurate “macro and micro demographic data” about Arab Americans. By illuminating the causal state interests facilitating reform and reclassification, I highlight how more precise and extensive demographic data—collected and compiled with a MENA American box on the U.S. Census form—expands the reach of federal and local antiterror and counter-radicalization policing amid the fluid yet evermore fierce War on Terror…

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For Some Americans Of MENA Descent, Checking A Census Box Is Complicated

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-03-11 20:18Z by Steven

For Some Americans Of MENA Descent, Checking A Census Box Is Complicated

Code Switch: Race and Identity, Remixed
National Public Radio

Kat Chow

For years, advocates have pushed the Census Bureau for a box for people of Middle Eastern or North African descent. Now, the bureau recommends one. Some worry the data may be misused in surveillance.
Chelsea Beck/NPR

When Atoosa Moinzadeh filled out past census forms, she found herself in a racial identification conundrum. Moinzadeh identifies as Iranian American. But the census forms don’t have a box for Iranian American. The closest she could come to identifying herself the way she wanted was to choose the box for “white,” which had “Middle East” listed as an example.

That wasn’t quite right for her.

“I’ve always identified as not white, and so the expectation to check off ‘white’ on forms has never felt accurate to me,” Moinzadeh said. She has brown skin and grew up in a white neighborhood in a Seattle suburb. Like many other people of Middle Eastern or North African descent, the world did not treat Moinzadeh as white. And so, on past census forms, Moinzadeh would select the box for “other” and write in “Iranian American.”…

Now, after years of advocacy groups pressuring the U.S. Census Bureau to create a separate geographic category for people of Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) descent, the bureau is recommending that MENA be added to the 2020 census. That could mean that the approximately 3.7 million Arab-Americans in the U.S. might have their own box to check off.

Collecting accurate demographic information is crucial, especially for ethnic minority communities, since data gleaned from census forms affects funding for services such as voter protections or English as a second language programs in schools, and also is included in research on topics like housing discrimination. And in 2015, when the bureau tested potential new categories, including MENA, it found that people of Middle Eastern or North African descent would check off the MENA box when it was available; when it wasn’t, they’d select white.

But with policies and political rhetoric that are anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim, some worry the MENA census category might be used against the very people it’s supposed to include. “The downside is concerns about misuse of this data and how it could be used by the government in a time of national crisis,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Concerns like these have been around for almost as long…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,