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Why You Should Give a Damn About the 2010 Census.

ALO brings together two Arab-Americans who can’t agree on the census--Rashad al-Dabbagh, defender of the census bureau vs. Ray Hanania, the man on a mission


Rashad al-Dabbagh is a Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, reaching out to the Arab-American community in Southern California. Since moving to California in 1999, al-Dabbagh has been active with the Arab-American community. He is currently President of the Network of Arab-American Professionals of Orange County (NAAP-OC). He was the Associate Director of ACCESS California Services, an Anaheim-based non-profit social service organization that serves the Middle Eastern communities. He served a one-year term as Regional Director for the California Young Democrats in 2008, founded the Middle Eastern Student Society at Cal State Fullerton in 2004 and volunteered for many organizations including the Arab-American Institute and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. He is a Saudi-born American of Palestinian and Armenian descent.


Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist who has covered both Midwest American and Middle East politics for more than three decades, including 10 years managing election campaigns for more than 50 candidates for local, statewide and Congressional offices. The winner of three Society of Professional Journalism Lisagor Awards, Hanania was named Best Ethnic American Columnist by the New America Media for 2007 and 2008. He writes for dozens of newspapers in the Middle East and the United States. He hosts a morning Chicago talk radio program Monday thru Friday in Chicago covering middle American and Middle East issues. Hanania’s family originates from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Palestine.

ALO: The main theme on the U.S. Census website is that the 2010 Census is a portrait of America. Every individual within this snapshot has a story. Hear what people are saying. Yet many Middle Eastern-Americans have expressed concerns that they will not be fully heard. How can every American truly be represented and heard in this defining view of what makes America great?

Rashad al-Dabbagh: The census is safe, simple and important; everybody counts. It is required that everyone who lives in the United States fill out the census form regardless of citizenship or legal status, and that includes Americans of Arab or Middle Eastern descent and Arabs/Middle Easterners who are not U.S. citizens but live in the United States. It's up to the community to make sure that they are fully counted. 

Ray Hanania: I think the most important issue involving the U.S. census is the failure of the census to recognize Arab-Americans on the form as they do 29 other racial and ethnic groups that range from 3 different categories of African Americans, numerous categories of Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans to Chicanos, Tongans and more. Simply asking Arab Americans to not protest the census and demand that we be included by the simple insertion of the four letters, A-R-A-B, alongside groups is wrong. Without that designation printed in the census forms, Arabs are technically not included in the big goals that the census asserts are benefits, such as acquiring grant funding. Further, asking Arab-Americans, as a remedy, to simply write in their identity on a blank line in the form discourages full Arab-American participation. Even if we do fill out the forms, the absence of a box to fill in will result in most Arab-Americans’ not writing in their identity and therefore create an inaccurate count of Arab-Americans.


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