24. When did Arab people come to the United States?
Today, most Arab Americans are native-born Americans. The first significant wave of immigration began around 1875. It lasted until about 1920. After a period in which the United States restricted immigration, a second wave began in the 1940s.

25. Why did Arabs first come to the United States?
Like many peoples who came to the United States, Arabs were seeking opportunity. Factors in the first immigration were Japanese competition that hurt the Lebanese silk market and a disease that hurt Lebanese vineyards. Most early Arab immigrants were from Lebanon and Syria, and most were Christian.

26. What prompted the second wave?
After 1940, immigration to the United States was not for economic reasons as much as because of the Arab-Israeli conflict and civil war. This meant that people came from many more places. The second immigration also had many more people who practiced Islam, a religion that was not as familiar in the United States. Immigrants in this group tended to be more financially secure when they arrived than people who had come earlier for economic opportunity. Many people in the second wave were students.

27. What race are Arab Americans?
Arabs may have white skin and blue eyes, olive or dark skin and brown eyes. Hair textures differ. The United States has, at different times, classified Arab immigrants as African, Asian, white, European or as belonging to a separate group. Most Arab Americans identify more closely with nationality than with ethnic group.

28. Are Arabs a minority group?
This depends, in part, on your definition of minority. The U.S. government does not classify Arabs as a minority group for purposes of employment and housing. Arabs are not defined specifically by race, like some minority groups, but are united by culture and language. Some Arab Americans see minority classification as an impediment to full participation in American life. Others are asking for protection from the same issues affecting people in minority groups, such as profiling, stereotyping and exclusion.

29. Are Arab Americans more closely tied to their country of origin, or to America?
This need not be an either-or issue. Arab Americans have dual loyalties. While they may be closely tied to their countries of origin, most Arab Americans were born in the United States, and an even larger majority have U.S. citizenship. This is reflected in the expression, "Truly Arab and fully American."

30. Who are some well-known Arab Americans?
Christa McAuliffe, the teacher/astronaut who died aboard the space shuttle Challenger; Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal; Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie; creators of radio's American Top 40 Casey Kasem and Don Bustany; Mothers Against Drunk Driving founder Candy Lightner; Jacques Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Co., and Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps.

31. Does the U.S. Census Bureau collect data on Arab Americans?
While the census does not specifically classify Arab Americans, it does collect enough data to present some population characteristics. Some of that information is on the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site at www.census.gov, and is reflected in this guide.

32. What is the educational level of Arab Americans?
Arab Americans are, on average, better educated than non-Arab Americans. The proportion of Arab Americans who attend college is higher than the national average. Compared to the norm, about twice as many Arab Americans, in percentage terms, earn degrees beyond the bachelor's degree. Key factors in this question are country of origin, length of time in the United States and gender.

33. What occupations do Arab Americans pursue?
Arab Americans work in all occupations. Collectively, they are more likely to be self-employed or to be entrepreneurs or to work in sales. About 60 percent of working Arab Americans are executives, professionals, office and sales staff. At the local level, Arab Americans are most likely to be executives in Washington, D.C., and Anaheim, Calif.; sales people in Cleveland and Anaheim, and manufacturing workers in Detroit. As with all people, employment choices may be influenced by nationality, religion, education, socio-economic status and gender.

34. How do Arab Americans fare economically?
Individually, Arab Americans are at every economic strata of American life. Nationally, Arab-American households have a higher than average median income. Like occupational patterns, this varies by location. Arab-American earnings are below the overall average income in Detroit and Anaheim.


Contents :: Overview :: Origins :: Language :: Demographics :: Family :: Customs

Religion :: Politics :: Terminology :: Stereotypes :: Coverage :: Resources :: Credits


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