April is Jazz History Month, National Poetry Month, the celebration of Earth AND Arab American History Month too! Enjoy today's guest blog exploring connections to Arab Roots!
In honor of Arab American heritage month I had the idea to plunge into my own family history to see if there were was any secret lineage that could be traced to Arab roots. My ethnic background, like many Americans is a mishmash of European nationalities, much of which has not been traced. There is really only one relative that I can chart back to his immigration to the United States.
My great-grandfather was born in 1896 and around the early 1910’s immigrated to the United States in the mass exodus of Sicilians leaving the island. Historical records recount abject poverty and an enormous surge of Sicilians entering the United States. It’s somewhat shocking to meet an Italian American today that isn’t really Sicilian-American. As I began doing some digging for a project on Morocco through the 20th century I uncovered the depth of influence the Arab world had on Italy.
Italian immigrants, like Arab immigrants and many other groups didn’t find the United States as welcoming as they may have hoped. But, with a lot of hard work, a little luck and determination many have gone on to live comfortable lives and some have even become famous.
Estimates that I have found claim that between 20-40% of Sicily’s population has connection to the Arab world. That’s a pretty high percentage! The connection between the foods, ingredients, lifestyle and general attitudes between these two groups always struck me as complimentary but now there was some backing behind it. I don’t know if I will ever know for sure that my roots are Arabic but it just goes to show how much influence Arabs have had on the rest of the world.
Do a little digging – maybe you’ve got some Arab roots too!
Amanda is a curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, and lover of all things Moroccan. Her areas of interest include bi-cultural and international relationships, raising bi-cultural children, ethnic and whole food, and the issues of being and raising Muslims in America. You can connect with her on her blog MarocMama.com, Facebook and Twitter.