Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census via @ACCESS1971 & @NNAAC - Best of the Left Activism

You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census.

This is one of those: "Who knew this wasn’t already a thing and why do we even have to ask our policy makers to get on it?” kind of actions. But, apparently, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of people from the Middle East and North Africa — or MENA — region. MENA includes a significant number of Arab Americans — a group currently experiencing heightened discriminated thanks to fear mongering from the GOP and Fox News crowd. In such a climate, their receiving specific designation from a governmental body has political, cultural, and practical implications.

Excluding a group from the Census essentially makes them invisible from a political and policy standpoint, so the National Network for Arab American Communities and their parent group the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services are building grassroots support to create a new category. The comment period is open now; you can add your name to help reach the necessary 5,0000 supporter mark by visiting the “Take Action” tab at Comments close February 1st; please act now so the opportunity doesn’t pass.

A successful campaign would mean including the MENA region in the 2020 census, giving people from that community more power with office holders. Because people from the MENA region identify with many racial backgrounds, they are not viewed as a group from a governmental and policy standpoint. Rights often begin with recognition; Census classifications serve as a resource to local and federal officials charged with caring for their constituents.

The Census is also used by non-profits and organizers; official recognition of the region allows for non-governmental agencies to address the needs of a community that is underserved, not just because of racism and malevolence, but also because of simple ignorance on the part of those who administer services.

Visit and add your name. The Census only comes around every ten years, so missing this opportunity means another decade without recognition.


Leave a positive comment by February 1 to support adding the MENA region to the Census

Sources/further reading:

Linda Sarsour speaks to MEMO about Islamophobia in America”

"Radio Dispatch Live with Linda Sarsour and Vince Warren” on Radio Dispatch

"For Republicans, Muslims Will Be the Gays of 2016” by Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast

Hear the segment in context:

Episode #892 "Fearing and hating what we don’t understand (Religion)"

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

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  • commented 2015-01-31 16:43:03 -0500
    Absolutely ridiculous that we are adding new race/ethnicity categories instead of eliminating all such categorization as a function of government.

    The country’s situation is that while only about 2% of the population “check more than one box” on the census and other forms, the majority of individuals in the US are to some degree and have been for some time, multiracial. My own situation is that I’m an Anglo married to a Chinese woman, have one child, and worked in Latin America for three decades, where again most of the population is mixed race.

    And have you been on any university campus recently and seen who’s holding hands with each other?

    About a dozen years ago in California we put the Racial Privacy Initiative on the ballot. This would have forbid all state government entities from asking people to identify their race/ethnicity on forms of any sort (except where required by the federal government). Reliable polls just a couple of months before the vote showed that in every racial/ethnic group, a majority of those with an opinion on the matter wished to eliminate governmental racial classification of people.

    In gathering signatures to put that initiative on the ballot, I scoured local university campuses (SDSU, UCSD, San Diego community colleges) passing out a flyer on the subject and asking students to sign. It was a truly delightful experience, as in their very great majority (>90%) students of all racial groups signed enthusiastically. At SDSU I even had students wanting to sign seeking me out in the central plaza after hearing about the petition from their dorm mates and class mates.

    But shortly before the vote, leading opponent CA Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamonte with a war chest of ca. $12,000,000 began a massive campaign of TV and radio ads against the RPI. They paid former US surgeon general Everett Koop to go on TV and say the initiative would put millions of California children’s lives at risk, etc., etc. Then all the race hucksters got involved. So the initiative did not pass but it still got 37% voting in favor of it.

    Next time it will get 90% of the vote — if only young people are allowed in the voting booth! Time to give all the old fart racialists the boot!