In the wake of today’s society comes a new wave of hate towards anyone that doesn’t speak English or are of any non-European cultural background. Being of Middle Eastern decent as well as an American, I never saw anyone like me to look up to or have the same background as me. Many ethnicities throughout the U.S. have celebrations for their cultures that the whole nation talks about as well as idols who are proud representatives of that culture whether it be musically or through academics. Fortunately, I did some research and found that this month, April, is national Arab-American Heritage Month.
Arab American Heritage month, for me, is a huge accomplishment in terms of representation. To celebrate, here are some amazing people of Arab/Middle Eastern descent that have made history and made us all proud.
Farouk El-Baz space scientist who worked with NASA to assist in scientific exploration of the Moon (Egyptian)
Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010 (Lebanese)
Yousef Erakat, YouTuber and actor (Palestinian)
Yasmine Bleeth, actress (Algerian mother)
Tony Shalhoub, TV actor on Monk, three-time Emmy Award-winner (Lebanese)
Rami Malek, actor, Emmy Award and Academy Award winner (Egyptian descent)
Salma Hayek, actress (paternal grandfather was Lebanese)
Reem Acra, fashion designer (Lebanese)
The Hadids, Gigi and Bella, supermodel and TV personality, (Palestinian father)
Shakira, singer, songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer, and model (Lebanese father)
Rosemary Barkett, federal judge and first woman Justice and Chief Justice on the Florida Supreme Court (Syrian)
DJ Khaled hip-hop DJ, rapper, music producer (Palestinian)
French Montana, New York rapper (Moroccan)
Paula Abdul, singer, musician, writer, actress, and TV personality (Syrian-American)
Khalil Gibran, writer, poet, and member of the New York Pen League; the third-best-selling poet of all time (Lebanese)
Fun fact: JFK’s most famous saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” was actually the words of THE Khalil Gibran.
Jonny Manziel, American football quarterback (Lebanese Descent)
Though there are many more amazing people who are descendants of many other Middle Eastern countries, these are just a FEW recognizable faces. Happy National Arab American Heritage Month!
- Farouk El-Baz
Egyptian-American space scientist who worked with NASA to assist in the planning of scientific exploration of the Moon