Saturday, March 20, 2010

OC-based Arab Complete Count Committee makes national headlines for "Check it Right-You Ain't White!"



ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. - MARCH 17, 2010 - The "Check it Right, You Ain't White" campaign launched by the Arab Complete Count Committee of Orange County has received national exposure in the past few weeks.
Newsweek published a front-page Web feature on March 2, 2010. CBS 5 in San Francisco aired a segment on the campaign on March 4, 2010, that featured Rashad Al-Dabbagh, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau who works directly with the Arab American community in Orange County. Most recently, on March 10, 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) aired a segment with Arab Complete Count Committee Co-Chair Omar Masry. The campaign has also been featured in The Orange County Register, Orange County's Ethnic Community Examiner,  as well as local ethnic media including The Independent Monitor and Beirut Times.
An accurate count directly affects the community's ability to ensure equal representation and equal access to important governmental resources, Al-Dabbagh says. "It should be regarded as one of the most significant civil rights issues facing the country today."
"The Arab American community has to do its part by making sure we have an as accurate as possible count in the 2010 Census," said Sami Mashney, an Anaheim-based lawyer and co-chair of the Arab CCC. "We have to make sure our community is well-represented and well-counted."
The Arab Complete Count Committee encourages Arab Americans to check "Some Other Race" on the Census forms and fill "Arab" in the space provided. The official Census numbers on Arabs in the United States is currently at 1.2 million, while the Arab American Institute estimates the number to be 4 million.
The undercount of Arabs demonstrates the importance of making sure Arab Americans as a community are counted completely and identified correctly. The problem is that many in the Arab American community are fearful of filling out census forms, let alone identifying as Arabs.
"The fear factor has been a challenge to my outreach efforts," Al-Dabbagh says. "Many in the Arab community confuse the Census Bureau with other government agencies and tend to believe that their information will be tracked by other federal and law enforcement agencies."
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