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114 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/mlro114 and id is 1 raw text is: 











                A  DEMOGRAPHIC THREAT?

      PROPOSED RECLASSIFICATION OF ARAB

            AMERICANS ON THE 2020 CENSUS


                           Khaled  A. Beydoun*



                              INTRODUCTION
    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.I The Office of
Management and Budget (OMB), the government agency that oversees the
definition, categorization, and construction of racial categories,2 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



     *  Assistant Professor of Law, Barry University Dwayne 0. Andreas School of Law.
Affiliated Faculty, University of California-Berkeley, Islamophobia Research & Documentation
Project. The author also served as a Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Census Bureau,
providing analysis of the language, scope, and structure of the proposed Middle Eastern or
North African American (MENA) box.
     1. Arab Americans are citizens of the United States who trace their ancestry back to
the Arab World. The Arab World presently encompasses nations in the Middle East and
North and East Africa where Arabic is commonly spoken. In addition to its fluid linguistic
boundaries, the Arab World is also a designation that refers to the twenty-three states that
are members to the Arab League.
     2. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Census Bureau are the
principal actors that construct per se definitions of race and racial categories. The
administrative making of race illustrates how [r]aces are not biologically differentiated
groupings but rather social constructions. IAN F. HANEY LOPEZ, WHITE BY LAW: THE LEGAL
CONSTRUCTION OF RACE xiii (1996).
     3. Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race & Ethnicity,
OFFICE    OF     MANAGEMENT      AND     BUDGET     (October   30,    1997),
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_1997standards [http://perma.cc/28YV-VN2X].


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