McNair Scholars Research Journal


What is an Arab? What is an Arab American? Are these ethnicities subject to negative treatment by others? Why is it important to recognize these differences in the treatment of Arab Americans and, in particular, in the realm of the workplace and in education? When preparing this literature review, I found little research on the effects of such discrimination on Arab American students. The research I did find indicates that it leads to poor academic performance and self-fulfilling prophecies. With regards to workplace discrimination, and particularly its effect on earnings, I found a decrease in earnings for Arab men and those perceived to be Arab. This major decrease in wages was short-lived, however, and seemed to be an immediate reaction to national political events.

Many factors contribute to the mistreatment of Arabs in the United States, but particular events have occurred in America that increased and enraged these feelings in many. Within the realm of higher education, knowing how students of different ethnicities feel about their college experience is vital to building trust, understanding and respect amongst each other in an ever changing world with regard to diversity. Discrimination primarily stems from lack of understanding of a particular culture or group. If there is more awareness, not just about Arab Americans, but about different cultures in general, then we can prosper and become an even stronger nation. With better understanding by all Americans, students might benefit by having a voice, and worry less about defending their identities, ancestries, cultures or traditions and focus more on their academics.

The second area I will discuss is the effect of discrimination on Arab Americans in the workplace. Discrimination in the workplace occurred in the aftermath of September 11th and, as with college students’ experiences with discrimination, trying to understand it and build better relationships with our co-workers, regardless of their ethnicity, is vital. I will also summarize several articles that discuss earnings of Arab Americans post 9/11, and what factors played a role in determining these earnings.