Prompted by recent events in the Middle East, this week on OurValues.org we’ve focused on facts about Arab Americans living in the greater Detroit region. This area is home to one of the oldest, largest, and most visible Arab communities in North America.
In some ways, Arab Americans are more American than the general population—they are more confident in most American institutions and more likely to say that America is the land of equal opportunity. The vast majority choose to become naturalized citizens. (Scroll down to read the details in this week’s posts.)
At the same time, however, Arab Americans have been subjected to scrutiny over the years. This scrutiny intensified in the wake of 9/11 (see Wednesday’s post). Nonetheless, Arab Americans feel at home in America.
How do other Americans perceive Arab Americans? Uneasy is probably the best word. Another Detroit area survey asked respondents to think of the racial-ethnic mix of their ideal neighborhood. More people excluded Arab Americans from their ideal neighborhood than any other group—whites, African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics. The same survey asked people to rate different groups on a “feeling thermometer.” Arab Americans received the “coolest” ratings.
As we conclude in our new book, and as we’ve seen this week, Arab Americans are suspended precariously between “belonging” and “not belonging” in America.
What do you think about our discussion? What does it say about America?
What to learn more about Arab Americans? Our book on Arab Americans, “Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9/11,” will be available this summer.
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