Detroit Immigrant from Egypt Fighting to Have US Government Classify Him as Black, Not White

The Republic, September 4, 2012

An Egyptian immigrant who lives in Detroit is asking the U.S. government to classify him as black, not white.

Mostafa Hefny has been trying to get the racial designation since the 1980s.

Mostafa Hefny

“As a black man and as an African, I am proud of this heritage,” Hefny told The Detroit News for a story published Tuesday ( “My classification as a white man takes away my black pride, my black heritage and my strong black identity.”

{snip} The 61-year-old was born in Egypt and came to the United States in 1978. When he was admitted to the country, he was classified on government papers as a white person, Hefny said.

“The government (interviewer) said, ‘You are now white,'” said Hefny, who said he is a Nubian, an ancient group of Egyptians considered more African than Arab, from the northern part of Sudan and the southern portion of Egypt.

A white person is defined as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa or the Middle East,” according to Directive 15 for the federal Office of Management and Budget Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.

Hefny said he was denied promotions because of his insistence that he is black.

He also said he lost out on a teaching position at Wayne State University in the early 1990s because it was a position designed for a minority, and he didn’t qualify.


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