community groups and their members to underline US President Joe Biden’s dedication to equality, highlighting the administration’s acknowledgment of Arab American Heritage Month, which included Arab Americans.

Four of the seven presenters who spoke about their department’s services were Arab Americans. Moderator Dana Shubat was joined by Reema Dodin, White House Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs, Fayrouz Saad, USAID Director of Public Engagement, and Brenda Abdelall, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security.

The virtual event on Friday, which was attended by Arab News and organized by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, also featured White House Deputy Director of Racial and Economic Justice Jamie Keene and Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Jonathan Smith.

During the 38-minute teleconference, there was no time for questions, but each speaker gave a description of their responsibilities and emphasized the need of integrating Arab Americans in discussions about diversity, discrimination, and equality.
The conference was “all about equity and the work being done in their different agencies,” according to Shubat, with Keene providing a full review of everything that is being done.
According to Keene, US President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 13985 on his first day in office, which instructed the federal government to foster “equity for marginalized communities,” which includes Arab Americans.

“It recognized that advancing equity necessitates an intersectional approach and a focus on communities of color, communities facing religious discrimination, women and girls, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, and communities across our country who continue to face intolerable levels of persistent poverty and discrimination,” Keene said.

“Of course, that strategy places a strong emphasis on Arab American communities, which we know confront chronic impediments to full inclusion and opportunity in our country.”

Economic justice, education, environmental justice, civil rights, health, criminal justice, housing justice and community investment, and global equity are among the topics of “Equity Action” covered by Biden’s executive order, which spans more than 25 federal government agencies.

“Our society must address the inexcusable costs of systemic racism, and we can build a nation that is more affluent and secure for all of us by achieving equity for all communities, especially Arab American communities,” Keene said.

Biden instructed each department to assess how their primary policies and programs may be perpetuating the past exclusion of underprivileged populations and communities of color, particularly Arab Americans, from full participation.

Each department has created a “Equity Action Plan,” the majority of which may be found at WhitHouse.gov/equity, a new White House website.

The Department of Homeland Security, for example, has announced new initiatives to reduce bias and discrimination in the way visitors are treated at the country’s airports, according to Keene.
“We know this has a disproportionately large impact and significance on Arab American communities,” Keene added.

Domestic violence is also addressed in the Equity Action Plans, as is discrimination in unemployment insurance against women of color and other minorities. Another example is the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of additional civil rights enforcement measures. According to Keene, pollution disproportionately affects low-income and minority neighborhoods.

One of Biden’s top aims, according to Shubat, was to have a “diverse workforce and diverse personnel” working for him in all federal departments and the White House.

Shubat stated, “It’s extremely nice to be able to share with you that 30% of agency appointments are naturalized citizens or children of immigrants.”

“I know there are a lot of immigrant youngsters on this call, including myself.”

In the White House and at the State Department, Biden has promoted two dozen Arab Americans to mid-level and deputy positions.
With the exception of Hady Amr, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for Israeli and Palestinian affairs at the US Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, none of the prominent Arab American appointees has given on-the-record interviews to Arab media outlets on major issues. On March 31, 2022, Amr gave Arab News the first ever interview about his role in the State Department.

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