A Question of Faith: An Investigation of Suggested Racial Ethnonyms for Enumerating US American Residents of Muslim, Middle Eastern, and/or Arab Descent on the US Census
Copyright (c) 2013 American Name Society 2013
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In 1790, the American government ratified the first official census of the nation’s population. Since then, the US Census has been taken continuously every ten years and has become indispensable for the equitable distribution of rights and resources. Nevertheless, the Census has not escaped criticism. In particular, its system of ethnoracial nomenclature is regularly attacked for failing to adequately reflect the nation’s changing demography and linguistic sensibilities. Consequently, many critics have called for the introduction of new terminology. The present investigation examines some of the most popular names suggested for one group in particular: US American Residents of Muslim, Middle Eastern and/or Arab descent (AROMMEA). The four racial ethnonyms examined are Arab-American; Middle Easterner/Middle-East American; Muslim-American; and White.1 As this investigation demonstrates, each of these names comes with its own unique set of linguistic, social, and political advantages and disadvantages.
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