Are Lebanese White?
The U.S is a significant country with diverse cultural groups. You can identify an individual’s nationality by looking at its skin complexion. For instance, you can recognize an African on New York Street by their dark skin tones.
But, have you met a Lebanese in the U.S before? If so, how did they look? Are Lebanese white? Well, this is a tricky question. Lebanese are neither white nor black. They might have few black genes, with a 10% proportion of the Ethiopian genes.
Let us dive in deeper to discuss this.
An American Lebanese can be an immigrant or a descendant from Lebanon. The nation is found in the eastern end direction of the Mediterranean Sea at the northern-eastern border of Syria.
If you consistently read your bible, you will notice the country has multiple mentions in it. The Bible testaments recognize Lebanon as the Cedars of God Forest.
Its capital city, Beirut, is popularly known as the “Paris” of the Middle East region. World Bank’s statistics for 2011 estimated the country to have at least 4.26 million individuals. Muslims population of Ismaili and Shia has an estimated rate of 59.7% in the country’s population.
Christians of sub-groups, Roman Catholics, and Armenian Orthodox occupy 39% of the population. Other alternative beliefs, such as Baha’i, occupy the least.
Lebanese began migrating to the U.S during the late 1870s. Most of them peddled to upstate New York and New England. Others initiated general stores in the West and Midwest.
Their migration took place in waves. The most notable one was the migration in response to the 1975-1991 war in Lebanon.
During the 1980s, the Lebanese Americans worked closely with U.S government authorities to form the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The group flourished well and became the leading Arab organization in the U.S by the 21st century.
Some of the regions with dense clusters of the Lebanese are New York, Detroit, California, Michigan, and Florida.
Lebanon has quite a distinct past. The Canaanites, aka Phoenicians, first inhabited the country. Well known for their trading and sailing skills, the group resided along the coast of Lebanon, especially the Sidon and the Byblos ports.
Also, they initiated colonies in the Mediterranean, Europe, and North Africa regions. They leveraged the indigenous cedars of the country and built the Temple of David. Other groups, including the Persians, challenged their solid power.
The Islamic religion grew, and most of the population embraced the Arabic Language. But, they still hold on to their multi-religious activities as Lebanon’s mountains were places for religious acts.
The country became under the ruling of the Ottoman Empire during the years 1516-1916. The Ottomans formed the province of geographic Syria. It covered three states: Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
After the 1860s, the French, who had shown economic interest in Lebanon, intervened after brutal mass killings of Christians.
In the late nineteenth century, Lebanese became open in preserving and reviving the Arabic culture and language. It resulted in the assassination of the leaders who were allegedly engaging in anti-Turkish activities.
While 1918 World War I was ending, a British general, Edmund Allenby, rescued Lebanon. The war victors also disintegrated from the Turkish empire. There was much sense in Lebanon after 1920 when the French formed boundaries of present-day Lebanon.
The Modern Era Of Lebanon
After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, England and France split Lebanon into English and French territories. England took control of the now called Palestine and Jordan. At the same time, France controlled Syria and Lebanon.
France bundled up Mount Lebanon together with other geographical regions to form the State of Greater Lebanon. The French created the republics of Lebanon and Syria under its mandate. It was until 1943 that each of the countries gained full independence.
Lebanon became the Switzerland of the Middle East after becoming an independent entity. However, its demography and politics were torn into pieces after another civil war emerged in 1975.
The unspeakable cold war, the conflict between the Arabs and Israelite, and global interference raptured in the country for decades. It gave rise to conflicts between Muslims and Christians that lasted for many years.
A peace agreement came in 1991 to end the war. However, most problems became stagnant in the country. As Lebanon tried to reconstruct after the war was over, Syria occupied the country from 1976 to 2005. Also, some portions of its village in the southern part were inhabited by Israel.
The living conditions in Lebanon deteriorated during Syria’s occupancy. Lebanon’s stringent policies and insecure state forced many Lebanese to look for jobs and a peaceful living environment abroad.
The native Lebanese formed peaceful measures for the UN to withdraw Syria and Israel from their country. The agreement withdrew Israel in 2000, but Syria persisted in the occupancy.
There was more suffering in Lebanon. The native Lebanese were terribly tortured, murdered, and imprisoned.
The Lebanese Opposition coined the Cedar Revolution in 2005 to liberalize Lebanon. It took place after the assassination of the former premier Rafik Hariri. United Nations intervened, and Syria evacuated Lebanon by April the same year.
Lebanese Settlement In The US
Lebanese immigrants, who occupied the Ottoman Empire, form two-thirds of the 3.5 million estimated population in the United States. Christians Lebanese were the first individuals to step foot into the U.S soil and speak the Arabic language.
Their first immigration took place in the 1870s, skyrocketed in the 1914s, and dropped during World War I. Every year, the immigration rate fluctuates between 1600 and 5000. When the Immigration Quota Act was passed in 1929-1965, their US population dropped a few every year.
More immigrants populated the US during the second wave of migration in the late 1960s. There were more Arabic speakers in the 1980s, and the Lebanese Americans acquired a higher profile.
Today, the majority of Arab Americans come from Lebanon. Some of the factors that inspired Lebanese immigrants to America were American missionaries’ American Freedom and equality tales.
Most Lebanese families wanted to attain their economic ambitions in the U.S. Those belonging to the Muslim culture proceeded with their beliefs and cautiously assimilated the American culture.
Lebanese Christians also played active roles in the U.S. They built churches and participated in intermarriages and politics.
Most Lebanese Americans speak Arabic. In their first years, the influential New York poet letters of Khalil Gibran and Elia Abu-Madey fascinated them.
They put less effort into educating Arabic to their American-born children. Since the immigration quota rule stimulated the problem.
The Arab American newspapers and journals’ market declined. Christians transformed their services into English. Particularly, Lebanese Muslim immigrants have played a major role in maximizing the usage of Arabic. They have established Arabic classes for the children.
Lebanese women are precious. Their opinions are valued, despite the man being the head of the family. Husbands rely on their wives to manage the household and children.
Most Lebanese American women today have careers other than household duties and responsibilities. They operate the family business and take care of their families when husbands pass on.
The women have active public roles as Lebanese American men. For example, Donna Shalala is a Lebanese American woman with powerful public power.
She held the chancellor position of the University of Wisconsin before being President’s Clinton secretary of health, education, and welfare.
Lebanese Americans have played significant achievements in politics, arts, music, science, and sports while in the United States. Besides, others have attained notable judiciary seats.
Only to mention a few, some of the most prominent Americans with Lebanese genes may include:
Bobby Rahal, a race car driver, championed the Indianapolis 500 in 1986. Also, Joe Robbie, a Lebanese American, owned Miami Dolphins.
Helen Thomas was the correspondent for the United Press International White House. Many recognized her for her long-term role of initiating and closing every press conference in the White House.
Norma Kamali and Joseph Abboud are outstanding fashion designers in New York.
The well-known Mansour Farah also has ancestry traits of Lebanese. He led the inception of Farah Brothers, a competitive firm that manufactures pants.
Lebanese Americans have also uplifted the business niche in the U.S. One of the notable individuals is Najeeb Halaby. He is the founder of the Federal Aviation Agency and Pan American Airways.
Michael DeBakey is a heart surgeon who came up with the idea of a heart pump and initialized bypass operations.
The Nobel Prize community also recognized Lebanese Americans. Professor Elias J. Corey of Harvard University received the Nobel Peace Prize in chemistry in 1990.
In the Medicine field, a well-prominent personality is Danny Thomas. He founded St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, where he leads research works and childhood leukemia medicine.
Diplomat Philip Habib assisted in putting an end to the Vietnam and Israel wars in Lebanon. Also, Senator James Abourezk was the first Lebanese to attain the U.S Senate seat. He also initiated the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Today, Lebanese immigrants occupy most states in the U.S. It will not be simple to trace a Lebanese by his or her skin complexion. Perhaps, you might consider checking on their powerful achievements that mark them as the most successful immigrant group in the United States.