Don’t Know Any Iranian-Americans? You Do Now!

Handshake Iran US

Salaam (Hi)! I was born and raised in the United States. My mom was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. After earning her Ph.D., she came to the US for post-doctorate work. This is where she met my (American) dad. It’s also where she happened to be when the Islamic Revolution broke out in Iran, so she decided to stay.

Mom converted to Christianity, and I was raised Lutheran; I’m now an atheist. As a family, we celebrate Nowruz, the secular Iranian New Year. I only know a little Farsi, but the sound of it is very soothing to me. Sometimes I just like to listen to random conversation. Like any good Iranian woman, I know how to dance beautifully. If you haven’t been to an Iranian party full of amazing food, music, laughter, and dancing into the wee hours, you haven’t lived.

I’ve never visited Iran. I’ve never met large swaths of my family. It can be rough sometimes, having large parts of your own heritage closed off to you because of political games played by distant, callous people. Plus, people get Iran and Iraq confused all the time. Falling back on Middle Eastern stereotypes, they think Iranians are Arabs (they’re not) who live in tents amid a desert wasteland (they don’t) and hate America (wrong again!).

Shahyad
Pictured: Azadi Square in Tehran

Many Iranians are atheists, like me, in spite of their government. They understand the difference between American people and American politics, and are welcoming and intensely curious of visiting Americans in their midst.

While America is and always will be my homeland, Iran is in my blood. However, I don’t look very Iranian. I’m ashamed to say that, for the time being, this is to my advantage. But in light of recent events, I still feel compelled to “come out” in hopes of striking a note of empathy with someone, anyone, who might not have any idea what the people of Iran are like.

Mostly? They’re sweet, friendly, and want the same opportunities for peace and success that everyone else does.

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