Arabs, Armenians and Iranians Considered White in U.S. Census, a Distinction With Which Many Disagree

Rashad Al-Dabbagh, center, looks through designs intended to illustrate an area of Anaheim that sought the title of "Little Arabia" in this undated photo. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Rashad Al-Dabbagh, center, looks through designs intended to illustrate an area of Anaheim that sought the title of "Little Arabia" in this undated photo. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Samira Damavandi knows that when she fills out her 2020 census form, she will be counted. But it pains her that, in some way, she will also be forgotten.

When asked to mark her race, Damavandi will encounter options for white, black, Asian, American Indian and Native Hawaiian — but nothing that she believes represents her family’s Iranian heritage. She will either have to choose white, or identify as “some other race.”

“It erases the community,” she said.

This graph, made with a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Census data, shows that more than 80 percent of individuals of Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent called themselves white in past surveys. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

This graph, made with a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Census data, shows that more than 80 percent of individuals of Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent called themselves white in past surveys. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Roughly 3 million people of Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern or North African descent live in the United States, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. No county is home to more of these communities than Los Angeles, where more than 350,000 people can trace their roots to a region that stretches from Mauritania to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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