What would you say?

Niki Tehranchi
by Niki Tehranchi

I was picking up SweetPea from school when this woman I had never seen before slipped in as I opened the gate and started bombarding me with questions:

-Shoma irooni hasstin? (You Iranian?)

-Bachatoon chand vaghte miyaad injaa? (How long has your son been coming here?)

-Raazi hasstin? (Are you satsified?)

-Moalemma khooban? (Are the teachers good?)

blah blah blah and on and on.  Normally I don't mind answering any questions by a prospective new student's mom or dad but then, this woman then concluded, without missing a beat, in the most disgusting and vulgar tone imaginable:

-Siaa Miaa Ziyaad hasst? (Many blacks here?)

I was dumbfounded.  What kind of a question was that?  What response should I give?  Do I even honor this batshit query with any response at all?  Number of options presented themselves:

Angry: "Khak bar saret you stupid, ignorant racist!"

Friendly: "This place is way too black for you, may I suggest a school in Antartica?"

Political: "Think more Obama, less Newt."

Historical: Wake up lady, this is 2012 in California not 1912 in Mississipi!"

Lawyerly: "It depends on what your definition of black is."

Threatening: "Black? I'll give you something black... a Black Eye!"

Diplomatic: "Like all educational institutions that reflect our society in a microcosm, this one is very diverse.  Yup... Very diverse indeed. And urban.  Diverse and urban, yup, that's it."

What would you have said?


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by expat on

I agree with the others that putting her in her place unfortunately wouldn't have changed her prejudices.  I'd just hope her precious little boy/girl is free of her racism, and one day dates a black girl/boy to really give her something to think about.


Some cases are due to ignorance rather than mall intent…

by Bavafa on

Nevertheless, it is inexcusable. 

I would likewise be dumbfounded if I was faced with the situation, and I think ignoring the question would have been my response.

  This reminds of the time that  I had just got married and we were walking in our neighborhood where we saw our next door neighbor.  She with a curious face congratulated me and without even looking at my wife, asked ….”esmesh chie”?  I didn’t have it in me to ask her if she is means our dog or my wife!!!!


'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



ما والله بی‌ رو در واستی سیا میا یا مکزیکی پکزیکی نداریم


ولی‌ هندی مندی، چینی‌ مینی‌، کره‌ی مرهی و دو سه تاا ایرونی‌ میرونی، تاا دلتون بخواد...

Esfand Aashena

Niki jaan please don't raise him to be a Ghamar Khanoom!

by Esfand Aashena on

Do you know who was Ghamar khanoom?!  If you feel that your response was not enough and that lady used your Iranianness to become chummy with you and ask about sia mia, well by the time he grows up he'd know this is a generational thing!

I don't think going ballistic on that lady would've solved anything.  Was this the first time you had encountered such a question?  I was faced with this question and attitude many times, as I said we get it here every day albeit on Arabs, still get it about Blacks many times, and I always start by responding ey baba ... 

Everything is sacred

Ari Siletz

Informative response

by Ari Siletz on

Give her your best estimate of the number of black students in the school. 

Niki Tehranchi

What I actually said

by Niki Tehranchi on

First of all thank you to all who posted comments and shared their insight.  It is good to see some familiar faces :) 

What I actually said, or rather hemmed and hawed and mumbled was that the school was very diverse then quickly excused myself, grabbing Sweetpea by the hand and running off.


It was not only so cowardly but a horrible role model for Sweetpea.  Granted he is only 4 and would not understand but I have to train myself to stop being so spineless because then how can I expect him or Ladybug to stand up for what they believe and to speak their voices against this type of thing.  Why is it always the silent majority that lets these loud and proud types be able to say the most offensive thing and get away with it. What bothered me the most was not even that the woman is such a simple-minded racist but that she believed, through my being Iranian like her, that I am of course complicit in her prejudices and stereotypes, otherwise how could she reveal something like this to a woman she has known for exactly 10 seconds? And by my being silent, I totally enabled her to keep believing this and put myself in her camp.  Grrrrrrrrrr...  No way, I will do better next time.  I have to. 

JJ thanks for making me feel better with the whole you can't teach a lesson to people on the street thing.  I am not going to teach any lesson as you say but the least I can do is to at least disassociate myself from the likes of her.  At least voice my opinion that I am offended by this statement and it is unacceptable to me so maybe, maybe she thinks twice the next time she accosts a complete stranger and assume just because of a coincidence of birth country, the other person shares in all her prejudices.

Ali P , Esfand, Kazem, Faramarz, thank you for injecting your humor as always. Ali P,  I was not aware that you know my mother and I as a small child?!!! Seriously, this is part of the problem, parents teaching unwittingly or not these types of prejudices to the kids.  What shocked me I guess was that this isn't a woman of my mom or grandmom's generation when making such statements I guess were widely acceptable but of my generation.  We should know better right? And yet in some cases the vicious circle continues.  God knows what she is teaching the kid at home "ba bacheye siyaa baazi nakon" and the likes.



I'd given her the Miranda Warning

by kazem0574 on

You have the right to remain ignorant and refuse to be politically correct.  ..............Do you understand?

Anything you do say may be used against other Iranians and paint them all with the same brush in a court of law. .................Do you understand?

You have the right to consult an Iranian attorney (from TV adverts) before speaking to the police and to have an Iranian attorney present during questioning about the best Persian restaurant & the nuclear threat . .............Do you understand?

If you cannot afford an Iranian attorney (from TV adverts),  bring all your friends and family to speak for you in strong Per-sheean accents. ...........Do you understand?


Seriously though,  an educating lawyerly (as you put it) answer. 
As someone famously kind of could have said,  “forgive them for they do not know what they say”

Esfand Aashena

Sia mia hameja hast! negaran spanish-ha nisti?!

by Esfand Aashena on

Niki jaan where have you been, long time no see!

i.com crowd, the loud mouths, always do this except they replace Blacks with Arabs AND they are the most freedom fighting-know it all-presumably well educated-well reasoned-most logical-anti-IRI or oh IRI-separation of church and state-all options are on the table-jackasses you can think of!

You were probably surprised to hear this in person whereas in i.com we're now immune to these type of racist rants "backed by logic" mind you!

I'd have play along by saying well I'm more worried about Spanish-haa than Blacks and there are some Arabs here as well.  And when she felt comfortable to say more stuff and get into it, I'd have said, come on man! woman! Are you kidding me? these are kids and kids are kids, what difference does it make if they're black or white or Iranian?  Don't you like it here? Do you want our kids to grow up hating each other like Sunni and Shiites?  Catholic and Protestants?

Velemon koon khanoom hoseleh dari, boro khoda roozi to jaye digeh havaleh koneh, zad ziyad! 

Everything is sacred


I would have said

by Faramarz on

I would have looked at her like I didn't understand a word that she had said and then would say in English, "I am sorry lady, I don't have any change. Why don't you try to get a job!"

Anahid Hojjati

some people are ablah

by Anahid Hojjati on

they may appear smart and accomplished but in truth they are idiots and over time they show how ablah they are. for instance i know a guy whose ex slept with a black guy, now this guy goes around writing anti b ack. before ex going out with the black guy, this guy was not so anti black but he is now. so here rather than having a case of a racistst guy, we have a true ablah. 


I would say

by amirkabear4u on

It is her right to express herself freely in a free society WITHOUT the usual fever of political correctness.

Honesty is a good policy.

Dr. Mohandes

The Lawyerly Version.

by Dr. Mohandes on

With the added touch that:

You should becareful lady when you speak of such matters,  There is always that possibilty that they may come after you and revoke your residency status. 

Just to give her a little something to think about!

I could just imagine what kinda conversation she would have with the hubby after being told that!! dey seyyy ve terow u out eef you talk bad abut blacks!!! rast migan???!!! 

Sheila K

the truth of the matter is

by Sheila K on

that most Iranians fear black people. It's not your average white supremist or white people's version of racism. It's a false perception that black people kill, they are in gangs, they are brutal and mean...It's a combination of fear and some elements of racim that they are of lower class of people so they never like it if their daughters or sons marry a black person.

I am not surprised of her question. I am more surprised of your reaction. Let's be honest, you know very well that most Iranians don't like black people. 


Ali P.

My answer:

by Ali P. on

-Yes. Plenty of siaa miaah haa! :-)

The question, on its face, is not technically racist. Many Iranians, I have heard, refering to other ethnicities, use the terms:" siaa miaah haa"," hendi pendee haa","mekzeekee pekzeekee haa "arab marab haa","roos poos haa".

  On the street, I once saw an Iranian lady , who was visiting the US with her small child, tried  to have the rowdy child behave, by threatening him:" ageh zyaad sedaa bedee, meedam aaghaa siaaheh bokhoratet haa!"

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Can't teach people a lesson on the street. Just have to let go and move on. It wold have been different at a dinner table or if your boss said or did something racist, otherwise I would keep quiet. And write a blog instead :)