long ago, I drove from Ann Arbor to downtown Detroit for a meeting in
a large office building. After parking, I carried two boxes of
materials into the building.
A security guard promptly stopped
me, politely (and firmly) requesting to inspect the boxes. When
he finished the inspection, he thanked me. I thanked him in return
for doing his job.
“Well, it’s really important since 9/11,”
he said. “You know who lives right over there.” He raised his
eyebrows and cocked his head in the direction of Dearborn.
borders Detroit, and it’s the location of a highly visible Arab American
enclave. The greater Detroit region is home of one of the oldest,
largest, and best-established Arab communities in North America.
was startled by his statement. “What do you mean?” I asked.
He leaned close and whispered, “You know what I mean. All those…Arabs…over
there in Dearborn. You can’t be too careful.”
encounter is a microcosm of the precarious status of Arab Americans,
especially in the wake of 9/11. This
week is the seventh anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11. On OurValues.org,
we’ll explore the precarious status of Arab Americans after 9/11 and
what it tells us about values and citizenship in America.
facts I’ll share with you come from what we learned through a representative
survey of adult Arab Americans living in the greater Detroit region,
conducted by a unique collaboration of seven researchers. I worked on the study along with Sally Howell, Amaney Jamal, Ann Chih Lin, Andrew Shryock, Ron
Stockton, and Mark Tessler. Our book, Citizenship and Crisis:
Arab Detroit after 9/11, will be published in the coming months
by the Russell Sage Foundation Press.
I’ll share a basic demographic profile of Arab Americans in the Detroit
region. I’ve discovered that these basic facts often surprise people.
How about you?
- CITIZENSHIP: Three of four Arab Americans are immigrants, yet over 80% are American citizens.
- RELIGION: The majority of Arab Americans are Christians. Chaldeans—Iraqi Catholics—are the biggest group in this region. About 42% of Arabs in the Detroit region are Muslims, which is higher than the national average.
- AREA: About 30% of Arab Americans live in the Dearborn enclave; 70% live in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.
- EDUCATION: Arab Americans have the same percentage of college and advanced degrees as the general population, but a higher percentage with less than a high school degree.
- INCOME: Compared to the general population, Arab Americans have some of the wealthiest and poorest households in the area.
WONDERING why there’s a photo of “Monk” TV star Tony Shalhoub at the top of today’s story? No, it’s not because he’s a crime-stopping detective. It’s because Tony is among the most famous and respected Arab-American actors working today. Did you know he was an Arab American?
Tell us, does any of this surprise you? Or does it confirm what
you already know?
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