July 4, 2004
Send us your questions
* Prejudice against halfbreeds
I am not writing to you about you about the usual kinds of issues that
you give advice about. My problem isn't about sex or drugs or drinking or
dating or divorce. In fact, I don't have any experience with any
of this kind of stuff. You see I'm only 12, but I hope to gain
some experience in the dating department in a few more years.
that I would like you to discuss is one regarding dignity
and what one should do when we encounter a person who is openly
racist and prejudice against other people. My parents have told me that
I must confront them and tell them that their ideas are wrong. They
say that when we remain silent in the face of such hate, we diminish
ourselves and become a passive participant in the spreading of hate.
few weeks ago, I wrote a little article for iranian.com called,
I'm from Pluto". It was about how life is from the perspective
of a kid from a mixed family. More commonly we call ourselves halfbreeds.
We have a unique perspective on what being Iranian and our other half
means. In my case I am half-Iranian and half-American or Ameranian. I
tried to make the article funny and pleasant, and I got many nice letters.
I got some, though, that weren't so nice. Let me share with you what
of iranian.com's feature writers wrote to me after reading my article:
you want to have a real Iranian product you
to have two Iranian making it....
am sick and tried of seeing Iranian who are
to lower class non-Iranians and their kids have no
identity and do not speak the language and do
consider themselves better. Most of the times
fat, homely Americans think they are better and that
why their husbands have married them. Of course I
one of the reasons they realize that not every
man is lucky enough to have a beautiful
of her own culture and may be someday when you are
really grown up, you will see the longing in your
dad's eyes when he looks at beautiful Iranian women
out of his reach.
I got pretty mad and wrote her back. I told her that she couldn't read
well because my article made clear that my mom is Iranian, not my dad
as she seemed to believe. She wrote me one final insulting email after
I told her that she should not talk about my mother. Here's what she said:
are paranoind and troubled. I did not call your
names but I bet bottom dollar that she is not
attractive and that makes you defensive.
I showed my parents what this lady wrote and they laughed and shook
their heads. They said that they have encountered far worse during their
marriage from Americans
and Iranians. I asked them what I should do when I meet such people and
they said anytime, anywhere you find prejudice and racism, you must take a stand
against it because if you don't, you become you eventually become insensitive
to it and how it hurts people. You hear a lot about racists in America,
but not much is said about Iranian racists.
Many Iranian people seem to ignore
when one of their own makes hateful racist comments about people from other
ethnic backgrounds. When Americans discriminate against others, Iranians
call it racism,
but when an Iranian discriminates against others, far too many Iranians keep
silent or agree. They fail to realiase that hate is an equal
opportunity emotion. Each person must decide for himself to embrace or eradicate
it. Sitting on the fence in silence only enables racists to continue spreading
While this lady would deny me the right to claim my Persian heritage, I want
her to know that I will never surrender my claim to my heritage no matter what
she or any other racist Iranians or racist Americans think about me. I am
a half-breed. I am proud of it. There are many Iranian half-breeds
living in America, and the world, today and we are NOT going anywhere,
no matter what she says or thinks. This racists heritage
is our heritage and we won't let her take our share from us today or ever!!!
My parents said that the only way to change a racist is by humiliating their
ideas and beliefs. They said that I should write another article discussing
hate against halfbreeds without mentioning her name. I did this. I sent it in. I wrote
the Editor and he knows what this lady said, but he felt that she had the
right to voice her opinion. Thus, the second article never appeared.
I want to be a writer someday. I want to make a difference when I am older.
With a keyboard and the Internet I can begin doing that now, unlike the
real world where my age always puts me at a disadvantage to adults. In the digital
world I can stand toe-to-toe against any adult as long as my positions
My problem is this. I can't understand why the Editor would enable
such racism to continue. My parents say fight anywhere you find it.
The Editor opts to be silent. Who is right? Are my parents wrong?
Does having the right to say what you want mean that others must
tolerate and accommodate hate? I am confused. What good is free speech to
any of us, if we shrink from speaking out against bigoty and hatered when
it slaps us in the face?
I told my mom and dad that the Editor didn't want to confront a fellow
Iranian by printing my second article, especially since I was only a half-breed.
My dad said that he right to choose for himself to remain silent
or speak out. My mom said everyone has to make such choices in life. Then
she went and got a book and showed me something in it about when Nazis
went around arresting different groups of people. Here's what it said:
they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist-so I said nothing.
Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat-so
I said nothing. The they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade
I said nothing. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew-so I
said nothing. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could
up for me.
I'm sorry if you think this is stupid.
Thank you for your letter. We remember your article and we enjoyed it
immensely. We liked to read about your brutally honest and at the same
time funny perspective.
One comment we would make is definitely the use of the term "halfbreed" is
not appropriate especially for someone, like you, who stands against
prejudices and racism no matter what group of people it is coming from.
The use of the word breeding makes us think of animals, like dogs and
horses, which it is ocmmon to breed. The idea that you can breed humans
i.e. make the race pure by only mating within the same race or culture
or religion was brought forward by a "scientific" movement
called eugenics and is very much associated with Nazis although they
are not the ones who came up with it.
You are a person of mixed cultural
heritage and we have always said for people in your situation, it is
very much up to you whether to look at the glass half empty or half full.
Namely, no matter the difficulties, ignorance and prejudices that lie
ahead, it is up to you to decide whether this is going to be a positive
experience in your lfie or not. Embrace both sides of your family and
take the best from each culture.
We believe we are familiar with the hateful, shallow and ignorant woman
who has written you the hate letter. She has sent so may simialr hate-filled
missives to various readers and writers on iranian.com that she can announce
her presence merely by the style and content of her letters. It is right
for your parents to tell you to stand up to people with racism. That
is, you should never let what other people think affect your choices
in life or how you think about yourself. But to educate racists is a
different thing, simply because these people are not open to a civilize
ddialogue most often than not.
We are sure that the reason the editor published her hate-filled letter
is not only because she has the right to voice her opinion, but also
because sunlight is the best disinfectant. That is, by including all
the diverse voices of Iranians out there, we are privy to the diversity
of opinions and views held by our compatritots and like it or not, this
woman probably represents a good portion of the public opinion. It is
better to air out this kind of letter for all to see so that we
are reminded of the existence of these people and we have the choice
to voice our opinion about it.
If you want to write an article that
deals generally with the topic of prejudices and racism in our culture,
without personally attacking the
woman who wrote you, and it abides by all the other criteria enunciated
by the editor, we do not see any reason that it would not be published.
Our best to you,
of the day
by Liz Greene