Does Religious Identity Influence the Racial Categorization of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans?

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Despite Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Americans experiencing marginalization due to their race and ethnicity, the U.S. Census still classifies them as White. There may also be ambiguity among other people of color (POC) as to how MENA Americans should be racially classified. Previous research has found that Muslim MENAs are less likely to identify as White than Christian MENAs. Our research explored whether MENA religious identity affects their classification as POC by other POC. Participants of color were shown a series of profiles of MENA individuals that manipulated their religious identity (i.e., Christian, Muslim, or none listed). Participants rated the extent to which they viewed the individuals, and MENA Americans as a whole, as POC. They also rated the extent to which they perceived individuals and MENA Americans as experiencing racial discrimination and being prototypical of POC. Religious identity did not have an effect on the ratings of MENA individuals or MENA Americans as a whole. Future research should continue to explore if religion intersects with race to influence who is more likely to be perceived as a POC.