Arab American Heritage Month
April is Arab American Heritage Month, celebrating Arab American heritage & culture & pays tribute to the contributions of Arab Americans & Arabic-speaking Americans.
A common misconception is equating Arab with Middle Eastern, or Arab with Muslim. In actuality, the Arab World consists of 22 countries in the Middle East & North Africa, & includes many faiths, races & ethnicities, & ancestry.
There are nearly 3.7 million Americans who have Arab ancestry. Many Arab immigrants come to the US from war torn & conflict-ridden regions, increasing their exposure to traumatic experiences.
While discrimination against Arab Americans is not new, discrimination, & stigmatization increased in the US since September 11th, as has incidence of psychological distress among Arab Americans. Unfortunately, the experience of depression, PTSD & mental health issues in Arab Americans is still relatively unresearched.
As with any other area of the world, there are examples of gender diversity that exist among Arabic cultures. For example, the term Khanith is a category of individuals who were assigned male at birth & whose gender expression is feminine, which includes trans women. As with the term queer, it’s a term that has been considered derogatory but that some have sought to reclaim as a mark of pride. (I am in no way an expert in gender diversity in the Arab world & confess my source on this is Wikipedia).
Since this month is intended to celebrate Arab-Americans here are some well known folks you might know:
The actor Tony Shalhoub is a Lebanese American & best known for his role in the tv series Monk.
The actor Rami Malek is an Egyptian American best known for his role in Mr. Robot.
Donna Shalala is the first Lebanese American to serve in a U.S. government cabinet post & was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008.
Hip-hop producer DJ Khaled is a Palestinian America record executive & producer& media personality whose album Major Key gained critical & commercial success.