Calling on America
The significance of finding a home in diaspora
January 26, 2007
The idea of a legitimate home, and in essence belonging to a place while concurrently defining oneself as a member of a diaspora community may seem paradoxical at best. However in order for the Iranian-American population to maintain both political and economic influence in the larger American community, a successful transition from a diaspora community to the greater American community is the needed empowerment. The voice of the Iranian-American community can only be heard louder if we make the transition of calling America home from diaspora without the compromise of our identity.
The latter implies encouraging our children so that they may encourage their children to embrace their origins and embrace America for all that she is, a land of promise, beauty and integrity. It is imperative for posterity in the Iranian-American population to feel that they belong to this land of Rocky Mountains in the west and deserts in the southwest. That they similar to other immigrants are entitled to enjoy and to love the grasslands that prevail in the east transitioning to prairies as much as their parents and grandparents ardently adored the coast of the gracious Caspian.
America maybe the world's last remaining super power, but she could still greatly benefit from Iranian-American influence and leadership. The United States census data indicates that Iranian-Americans are among the most highly educated people in the country. With their high level of educational accomplishment and a median family income that is twenty percent higher than the national average, Iranian-Americans contribute substantially to the U.S. economy. It is now only realistic for us to recognize that our contribution to a country that has given us a second chance to pursue our dreams is not in vain. Iranian-Americans must believe that they belong to America without having to compromise their background, and culture.
It is uncertain whether the hyphenated identity of Iranian-American will ever be replaced by simply American as were those of Irish, Polish, and German Americans. The latter immigrant groups who maintain close to two centuries of presence on U.S. soil prior to the mass migration of Iranians since1979 have also endured phases of prejudice and discrimination largely imposed by Americans of British descent. However we are at a stage in world history where because of fundamentalism and extremism, mainly rooted in the Middle East, and certainly Iran's current regime, we are today's victims whose identity is compromised and largely looked upon by suspicious eyes.
Yet the latter should not be a force that intensifies a sense of not belonging, but rather should be something we recognize immediately as the weapon of bigotry that does not want us to ever belong to a land that we have the right to call home. As Iranian Americans we may recognize that blind prejudice exists because we have experienced it, because our children have been humiliated since they looked different or boasted about foods that were too exotic for the American palate or perhaps had names that tested the Anglo Saxon pronunciation limits. But more threatening than the overtly prejudice are the silent bigots who desire Iranian-Americans stay away from politics, from making their votes count, from achieving positions of power that can slowly curb the stereotypes and discrimination that if not stopped would cripple our community.
America is the land of immigrants and that includes Iranian-Americans, who similar to other immigrant groups before them escaped religious and political oppression for freedom and opportunity. And although freedom and opportunity have come at a price, the price of living in a world dotted with prejudice, it has not prevented Iranian Americans to achieve greatness in America. Now is the time to let America embrace the greatness in Iranian-Americans.