As we enter the last week of April, we want to draw your attention to National Arab American Heritage Month, which is celebrated during the month of April.
(Photo from ArabAmerica.com)
School districts around the country throughout the 1990s started celebrating April as a month to bring awareness of the contributions and culture of Arab Americans, and it wasn’t until 2019 that Arab American organizations called upon Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to issue a congressional resolution on the matter.
Currently, the United States State Department is the highest Federal organization that honors Arab American Heritage Month.
Arab Americans have roots in 22 countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Their religion, heritage, experiences, and traditions have shaped, invigorated, and enriched America in countless ways. This month and every month we say to our Arab American brothers and sisters: we see you, we appreciate you. We will continue to listen and learn from you.
In honor of Arab American Heritage month, PBS has collected a series of videos on the Arab American experience. You can listen to playwrights, poets, journalists, authors, and the experiences of everyday individuals. We hope you will take some time to watch and listen as they share their talents and lived experiences. You can access these videos on the PBS website here.
The organization Arab America has been leading the way, calling for a Federally recognized Arab American Heritage Month. You can request curriculum kits that will be sent to your individual school or school district on their website. You can also read their blog, which contains firsthand narratives and experiences from members within the Arab American community. You can also find recipes. All these resources can be accessed on their website here.
We encourage you to spend time educating yourself, listening to your Arab American friends and neighbors, and reaching out to your local schools to see how they recognize Arab American culture and contributions during the month of April.
Read a book by an Arab American author. Support local Arab American restaurants and businesses. Most importantly, foster empathy by really listening to their concerns and perspectives.
We leave you with a poem from one of the most famous Arab American poets of the 20th Century, Kahlil Gibran:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart.
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.