On Friday, Aug. 4, Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3768, expanding racial classification categories when reporting statistical data within state agencies. The legislation amends the Uniform Racial Classification Act to create a “Middle Eastern or North African” (MENA) category.
The amendment will require agencies to include the MENA category in addition to white, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander when reporting statistical data on ethnic or racial categories. This requirement will go into effect on July 1, 2025.
This legislation was an initiative of State Representative Abdelnasser Rashid (D-Chicago) and is supported by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to expand recognition and inclusion of this category in the State’s data practice, including in the context of personnel. It is also sponsored by state Sen. Ram Villivalam, as well as advocates and multiple community organizations.
“I am proud to see Illinois become the first state to count Arab Americans and minorities from the Middle East,” Rashid said. “This information will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences our communities face and will give us the tools we need to develop better policies.”
“Here in Illinois, we are committed to instilling the values of inclusion and equity in every department of state government,” Pritzker said. “When it comes to distributing resources and providing support from our state’s agencies, we need to be sure every single Illinoisan is accounted for — leaving no one behind.”
“When we tell the story of Illinois, it must reflect the diversity of our state and do so accurately and with intention,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This expansion is critical in ensuring every voice in Illinois is seen, heard, and represented authentically.”