Good news! I'm no longer white, according to the government.
· Feb 13, 2023 ·

It's long past the time we as a country find creative new ways to further divide us up into warring ethnic-based factions.

Two segments of the U.S. population are a step closer to being able to declare their self-identity more accurately.

This presupposes that you will not be self-identifying as an American or as an individual with hopes and dreams and talents that are wholly detached from such immutable characteristics as race and ethnicity which you would think would be the most accurate way to do it.

Unfortunately, those approaches do not present the same kinds of opportunities to distribute favors to specific interest groups the better to aggregate power to the political class.

For many Americans of Middle Eastern or North African background, filling out federal forms has been a source of frustration when such individuals are officially classified as white.

Help is on the way!

But changes proposed by the nation's top statistician for how federal agencies collect such data would create a Middle Eastern and North African category. It would also combine race and ethnicity into a single question for everyone, eliminating the need for Latinos or anyone else to pick a particular race under which they fall.

Basically, they are making ethnic division more efficient.

It can't come too soon, I say.

It just so happens that I have a very healthy dollop of Arab heritage. I don't want to specify exactly how much, but let's just say that there's about a million times more Arab in me than there is Native American in Elizabeth Warren.

For decades, the nation's estimated 3.7 million Arab Americans have had to self-identify as white on government forms, with federal standards defining white as "a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa."

As a proud Arab-American (am I doing it right?), I have long found that odd. I mean, if you're going to divide people unnecessarily you might as well do it right, and equating Arabs with Germans and Englishmen struck me as strange.

Let's just say that back in my younger, more swarthy days, I often got pulled aside for that extra security check at airports, although that might have been more the swarthy than the Arab.

Still, I'm pretty sure I'm owed reparations. I'd settle for a coupon for one of those little UNO pizzas you can get at the gate.

The population has at least doubled since 2000, driven by the arrival of mostly Muslim immigrants and refugees, the product of multiple wars and Middle East instability. Especially after 9/11, checking the "white" box creates dissonance for some Arab Americans, whose experience doesn't always offer the privileges of being white.

As an extremely proud Arab-American who fondly remembers a childhood in which we celebrated our culture in ways that mostly involved pita bread, I feel I have been denied white privilegy things.

Okay, maybe I'll skip that bit of white privilege.

Additionally, for many Latinos, having to identify as anything else has been confusing. Arturo Aldama, ethnic studies department chair at the University of Colorado Boulder, said his Latino students report being stymied by such questions since they identify as neither Black nor white but as Chicano, mestizo or indigenous.

"Over half have said, ‘Those questions make no sense to me,'" Aldama said.

The fact that it's really difficult pigeon holing individuals into ethnic categories should probably tell you that maybe we shouldn't be pigeon holing individuals into ethnic categories.

Should the revision be approved, he expects the number of non-Hispanic whites to drop dramatically as a result.

And the point to all this?

"The amount of people who identify as white will be much less," he said.

Fewer white people means more "minorities" to cater to with public largess!

Arab Americans have fought for federal recognition for decades. There's more at stake than identity: Without community-specific data, Arab Americans miss out on funding for social and health services that could address issues unique to the population and go uncounted by researchers tracking employment discrimination or infant mortality rates.

I just want to say as a super-proud Arab-American patriot who may look up how to say "hello" in Arabic later this afternoon if I have the time (I think I'm really getting the hang of this).

How about we just get rid of all the categories and treat people as individuals with individual needs and address public services that way?

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