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MENA Category

The Arab American Cultural Center at UIC working closely with students and student organizations at UIC and UIUC generated a MENA Category campaign during Spring 2021 documenting students stories and experiences and educating our campuses. According to the US Census, people from the Middle East and North African region are counted as White. There have been campaigns to advocate for changing this categorization and recognizing our community as a minority group in demographic data for years. Look through the resources below to understand better or to help you advocate for the creation of such a category at UIC and beyond.

While the MENA category is seen by many as problematic given the particular colonial history of the term Middle East, it continues to be the most widely spread term to refer to the region and thus the choice for us to use it here. SWANA (or Southwest Asia and North Africa) is a new term that has been gaining traction particularly within some academic and activist circles, while some criticize it for the overemphasis on its geographical base.

Making the Case and Understanding the Issues Heading link

Light beige background with a drawing of an olive tree in the center with a shaded background of the map of North Africa and West Asia in light blue and yellow geometric art shapes. Text is in Brown

If you are unable to access these resources through your university library, email us at and we would be happy to share them with you.

Articles and Opinion Pieces Heading link

Specific to Campuses in the US Heading link

Multimedia Resources Heading link