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A Message from Chair Charlotte A. Burrows for 2024 Arab American Heritage Month

April is Arab American Heritage Month, during which we honor the rich legacy of knowledge, history, and culture, that Arab Americans and Arab American communities have given our country. Persons of Arab descent have been part of this nation from its earliest days, such as Private Nathan Badeen, a Syrian man who gave his life fighting for American independence. Arab Americans contribute to American society, economy and culture, serving in the military, government, and virtually every walk of life. And with more than 3.5 million Arab Americans living across the United States today, it is clear that the tapestry of America includes many threads from this accomplished and diverse community.  We recognize and celebrate the Arab American experience as a vital and vibrant part of the American experience.

This month is also a time to reflect on the fact that, despite their enduring participation in American life, Arab Americans and their communities have long faced prejudice and discrimination on account of their ethnicity, as well as their religion or perceived religion. This discrimination takes many forms, including threats and physical violence, and is often heightened in response to international or domestic events entirely beyond their control. A terrible reminder of this is the horrific murder last October of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old boy, stabbed to death by a man who senselessly associated him with the October 7th attacks and ensuing conflict in Israel and Gaza. No words can express the heinousness of this crime, and our hearts go out to Wadea’s family and all members of the Arab American community who have experienced threats, violence, and discrimination.

As the primary federal agency charged with enforcing the nation’s laws against employment discrimination, the EEOC stands firm in our opposition to hate, and in support of the right of Arab Americans to engage in work free from harassment, bias, segregation, or any other form of discrimination. We are well aware that such discrimination often increases as the result of global events, and the importance of combatting this type of discrimination is enshrined in EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2024 - 2028, which was approved by the Commission in September 2023. The Strategic Enforcement Plan sets forth EEOC’s priorities, which includes combatting discrimination on any basis that is influenced by, or arises in response to, local, national, or global events. In addition, on March 4th of this year, the EEOC issued a new fact sheet explaining the varied ways that Title VII prohibits Anti-Arab, Anti-Middle Eastern, Anti-Muslim, and Antisemitic Discrimination. It is our hope that this fact sheet will both remind employers of their obligations under Title VII, especially in these heightened times, and also serve as a resource to Arab American workers who face workplace discrimination.

In March, the White House Office of Management and Budget finalized updates to the federal government’s standards for maintaining, collecting, and presenting federal data on race and ethnicity.  The updated standards add a new category—Middle Eastern or North African (MENA)—to help ensure that Arab Americans are seen and represented in federal data collections.  The EEOC was honored to serve on the Interagency Technical Working Group that developed the recommendations, and we look forward to next steps for implementing the new standards.

This month, as the EEOC recognizes and honors the many contributions Arab Americans have made to our country, let us also redouble our efforts to vigorously protect Arab Americans from employment discrimination, so that all workers have dignity and equal opportunity in the workplace.


Charlotte A. Burrows (she/her/hers)


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

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