The Arab Diaspora

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To many people today, Arab immigrants are the latest group of a long list that have come to the United States since it’s’ inception. However, people of Arab origin have been immigrating to the United States since before The Declaration of Independence was penned in 1776, and haven’t really stopped since. There were not many Arab immigrants at this time, however. The first notable “wave” of immigrants was not until the late nineteenth century. Since then, there have been multiple distinct waves, but most often they are categorized into two groups: pre-World War 2, and post-World War 2, as the demographics and ideologies are inherently different. As a result, it may seem quite obvious that their presence in American life as well as their identification in such has changed. However, it would be foolish to state that there is no continuity between several aspects of Arab American life then and today. Because both are present in American politics, we can only measure whether there has been a greater degree of continuity or change within past or present-day Arab-American experiences. There are several aspects to both claims. However, after careful analysis it is clear that there has been a greater degree of change amongst Arab Americans because of the change in how they view themselves as a collective entity.
There are two primary reasons that people of Arab descent immigrated to the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. The first is the prospect of economic gain. Advocates for this theory believe that the Ottoman Empire is largely the reason for the mass emigration of Syrians in the early 1900s. They cite that the organizations that were put in place to help those uprooted by the Lebanese civil conflict, largely le...

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...for their “whiteness” in the court of law numerous times, such as the Costa Najour case. And as a result of decades of fighting, they are regarded as white to this day when categorized, such as the United States Census. According to several modern Arab-American writers, their “whiteness” in the eyes of the law does not mean that they are treated as such. This relates to Toni Morrison’s view of race talk. She defines this as the “explicit insertion into everyday life of racial signs and symbols that have no meaning other than pressing African Americans to the lowest level of the racial hierarchy.” (pg. 2). Although she applies her argument solely to African Americans, it can be stipulated that in some degree, it can be applied to any perceived minority. And as such, when applied to that of Arab Americans, you see the various racial remarks made in everyday speech.

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