There are nearly 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States, according to the Arab American Institute. And while it's important to respect and recognize Arab American culture all year long, April marks Arab American Heritage Month. In 2019, two members of Congress pushed for the month to be recognized on a national scale. Establishing Arab American Heritage Month was critical in combatting post-9/11 anti-Arab sentiments, and while Arab Americans still face prejudice regularly, acknowledging their fight for recognition and equality — and becoming better allies — is something we can all contribute toward. We've come up with a few ways to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month. Check out our list below:
Donate to an Organization
There are plenty of Arab American organizations to donate to. Head online and find out more information about Arab America, the Center For Arab American Philanthropy, and more. Arab America is a national media organization that was established to help portray an accurate depiction of Arab Americans. Arab America strives to create connections between Arab Americans and all Americans. The organization hosts events about mosques, churches, ethnic grocery outlets, and more. Arab America strives to be at the forefront of digital media for Arab Americans. Shoot them an email and find out how you can get involved. Visit the Center For Arab American Philanthropy site and find out more about ways to donate to the Arab American community. The Center For Arab American Philanthropy is known for making grants to nonprofits to improve communities. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is the largest Arab American grassroots organization. Go here to directly donate to ADC. Want to make a direct impact? With Arab American Family Services you can donate to support a fundraiser, donate needed items like clothing or food, or donate your time by volunteering.
Make Arab Food
Making Arab food is a great way to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month. There are several Arab American chefs and food bloggers you can check out. Visit cheftariq.com to find authentic Middle Eastern recipes. From traditional stuffed sweet potatoes to hummus, Chef Tariq has you covered. "Decolonize your hummus. Hummus is an ancestral food and it's about more than vegan protein," artist Mona Haydar told POPSUGAR. "It's the method of preparation that involves everything from the planting of the chickpea seed to the harvest. It's a communal process of shelling and shucking and then drying. Many hands make the work light, and to feed the village everyone had to pitch in so that all could be well fed from harvest to next harvest. It's about honoring the olive trees which provide the drizzle of olive oil that goes on top. The next time you eat hummus, think about the land which it came from and the hands which helped to plant, grow, water, harvest, dry, ship, and produce the food you're eating."
Arab American people are often overlooked when studying American history. Learn to recognize the difference between people from different Arab countries. Each country has its own cuisine, language, and history. Watch shows and films featuring or made by Arab Americans. "I think people should celebrate Arab American history month by researching and learning about influential Arab women," activist Zena Ozeir told POPSUGAR. "People often assume that Arab women are oppressed because of the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the media, but there is a long history of Arab women being change-makers and trailblazers."
Consume Arab American Media
Try to avoid forming ideas about Arab Americans based on stereotypes portrayed in mainstream media. Take the initiative to watch films and television produced by Arab American people to get a better sense of the trials and tribulations that Arab Americans face on a daily basis. Visit The Arab American News, the National Network For Arab American Communities, and The Jerusalem Post to get the latest updates on Arab communities. While watching non-Arab media, recognize Arab-themed mascots and commercial products — these stereotypical depictions of Arab people do not represent Arab communities accurately.
Read Arab American Literature
Reading Arab American literature is the best way to recognize Arab American Heritage Month. Getting into the minds and hearts of Arab American people allows non-Arab people to get a glimpse of what it means to be Arab American today. Check out writers like poet Naomi Shihab Nye and novelist Etaf Rum. Research where to find Arab American literature that accurately depicts the Arab American experience. Look into reading more than one book about Arab Americans to avoid stereotyping the group as a whole based on one author's experience. Share the literature you have read with family and friends during Arab American Heritage Month. Tell family and friends about Arab American Heritage Month and why it matters. Remind non-Arab people to read Arab American literature to support minority communities. If you are in a book club or know anyone who is involved in a book club, encourage members to pick a book that focuses on Arab Americans. Go on social media and post about the book you chose to read and tag the author. One post could lead to several friends deciding to learn more about Arab American culture.