Arab American Heritage Month

Moon and city scapeNational Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) is a time for celebrating the history, contributions, and culture of the diverse population of Arab Americans. In 2019, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) issued a congressional resolution for NAAHM to be recognized on a national scale.

“It is my hope as a strong and proud Arab American in Congress that our nation can uplift our contributions in the United States by supporting Arab American Heritage Month,” Tlaib, a first-generation American, said about the resolution. “Our history here in the U.S. is rooted in our love for freedom and equality, as well as access to opportunities to help our neighbors thrive, and we see this every day in Michigan. From the agriculture sector to medicine and beyond, we have been at the forefront in building our country without losing our rich culture.”

Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who is of Lebanese descent, told the House that NAAHM is extremely meaningful for “recogniz[ing] the contributions of the 3.7 million members of my community in the United States. In medicine, law, business, technology, civic engagement, government, and culture, Arab Americans have been, and continue to be, an invaluable part of the mosaic of American life.”

Who is considered an Arab American?
Arab Americans have ancestry in one of the world’s 22 Arab nations, which are located from northern Africa through western Asia. The people of these nations are ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse but share a common cultural and linguistic heritage.

The world’s 22 Arab nations are Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Terminology
In the U.S., many people conflate “Arab” and “Middle Eastern,” but linguistic and geographical factors mean that these terms are not fully interchangeable, according to the Arab American National Museum (AANM). The Middle East includes non-Arabic nations such as Iran, Israel, and Turkey. Similarly, not all Arabic nations are located in what is considered the Middle East — including Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco.

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