Advertisement Close

Sponsored: From Accuracy to Appropriation - A Deep Insight into the Culture of the Arabs Living in America

posted on: Oct 19, 2020

By: Sponsored Guest Writer

We live on a beautiful planet populated by people belonging to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Eons with people from every cultural background mixing together around the world should vouch for the unity found in diversity and cohabitation. 

Cultural diversification and exchange brings in glory and adds quality to an individual’s life. However, this process of exchange also comes with a few challenges. 

Most often than not, in an attempt to adopt and absorb the goodness of different cultures into our own, we end up appropriating these same cultures. This might not always be an intentional attempt, but intentional or not it does occur. The process may lead to unwarranted cultural appropriation and in a sense sabotaging the essence of the original culture in another land.

Sadly, through immigration we can also see a reduction of one’s own cultural identity. Once an ethnic group starts living in a foreign country, its original essence often gets subdued by other dominant cultures that do not want to allow this new culture to spread.

The Arab Culture in America – Preservation or Appropriation?

In this article, we shall aim to examine the shifts and evolution of the culture of Arabs living in America for a better part of their lives. 

The Arab culture is a potpourri of unique rituals, flavors of the land and several beautiful cultural highpoints. It is distinct, majestic and inclusive. However, the point is to understand how much of it has been preserved while living in America, and how much has been modified! 

Over the length and breadth of the article, we shall try to understand if Arab culture in America has been represented accurately or been appropriated over the years. Let us now dive straight into the article and try to find the answers to these two pertinent questions.

A Brief History of Arab American Culture:

Since the second half of the 19th century, Arabs have been living throughout America. However, it has not been as long that the Arab Americans have started asserting their cultural independence. For several decades, they have remained invisible. They even had to identify themselves as ‘White’ in the American census and had no separate category for their culture. Things have begun to change for the better now. Since the last few decades, Arab Americans have asserted their distinct identity in America and become more visible. 

Though, in all honesty, this visibility has also been a result of several stereotypes, assumptions and discrimination. However, as we mentioned a few moments ago, the changes that one can witness in the cultural landscape of America are fresh. It has become more inclusive, welcoming and wholesome in some ways, but in others there have been some regressions. However, it cannot be ascertained that it has never appropriated other cultures. This is what we shall be looking into in the next section. We shall try to understand how America has influenced and appropriated the Arab culture, and how much Arab Americans have preserved it in the face of appropriation.

American Influences in the Arab American Identity:

Arab Americans have enriched the culture of America in several ways. From academics to entertainment, Arab Americans have left their mark on several aspects of American life. Therefore, it is not appropriate to say that it is only the Americans who have influenced the Arab American identity. 

It is also the other way round. However, there are a few instances of American influence that we can think of. For example, America loves gambling as a form of entertainment. From land-based casinos to online casinos like, America digs into the gambling culture. This practice has now been accepted and absorbed into the Arab American identity too. Several Arab slot games are based upon quintessential American themes. 

The second example that we can think of is that of cuisine and festivals. Some Arab American millennials have taken to American food habits and have adapted certain foods to become more Americanized. However, Americans have also become more interested in Arab food, which has been a welcome development.

On the other hand, speaking of cultural appropriation, there are a few instances that we can cite. The original Arab ethnic wear has been appropriated over the decades in America. Though there is no harm in accepting another culture, the problem lies in appropriation. 

Wrapping Up Our Discussion About Appropriation:

As can be seen from the discussion, the Arab American identity is a confluence of two glorious cultures. There might have been many instances of appropriation, but the accuracy in representing the Arab culture in America is noteworthy too. It is essential that we examine these instances and weigh them to reach a conclusion. 

The Arab American culture has distinct markers and encompasses a gamut of human emotions. Therefore, it is perhaps safe to conclude that though there has been a rough patch of asserting cultural identity and overcoming discrimination, the Arab American culture has held its own and emerged as one of the most celebrated cultures in America.

Please note that this post was paid for by a third-party and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arab America or its employees. These posts help allow Arab America to produce our wonderful original content, thanks for your understanding.

Check out Arab America’s blog!