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Worse than Blacks
Conversation with my younger cousin in Iran

By Ahmagh Khan
June 16, 2004

NOTE: When I read this email, I thought about how often I've heard Iranians say things like, "We are America's new Blacks," or "Finally, the Blacks are getting a break." On Saturday, I heard a White woman in liberal San Francisco saying, "I don't like Arabs. They're so mean." -- J. Javid


Hi Uncle Ali! I want to come to the US. I am going to go to Dubai and get a visa!

Why? Have you been watching your "Bay Watch" videos again? I told you many times: if you come to the US, there will be no women in bikinis running in slow motion into your arms!

No, I know. But I can meet ordinary American women and maybe I will marry one.

Sure, like their daddies have nothing better to do except marry their daughters to Your Highness, a hairy, dark-skinned immigrant, fresh off the airplane from Iran!

Why do you say dark-skinned? I am White. We are Aryan!

Go stuff your Aryan self. Let me tell you something: Americans haven't heard anything about Aryans or Persians or whatever. To them, we're no different than an Arab or a Hindi or a Pakistani or Afghan. And they don't consider us to be "White." They think we're dirty.  So keep saying "We're Aryan!" and see where that gets you.

If they don't consider us to be White, what do they think we are? Black?

No, worse: Middle Eastern.

But that's not a race, that's a geographical location.

Look, no one here gives a shit. You are not White. To them, White means from Europe.

You mean we have to mingle with the Blacks?!

The Blacks won't have you. At least they're Americans. The Mexicans, the Hindis, the Pakistanis, the Arabs and us - we're all seen as smelly, dirty immigrants who can all be terrorists. So don't think that if you come here, all will be OK with your life. You'll have many new troubles.

But I can get a job!

A job doing what? You think there are so many jobs here just waiting for you to fill them? Tell me, what wonderful and rare skills do you have? You can barely speak English!

Khob, I have a Masters in Computer Science, you know that! And I speak some English.

Let me tell you something: YOU know that I have a masters too and worked as a computer programmer. And you know what? My former job is being done in India right now, by a guy who charges a 10th of what I charged. So instead of coming to the US, why don't you go straight to Bangalore! In Iran they worship you if you have an advanced degree. Here, the car salesman has more respect because he makes money.

So what if your project was done - you still have a job though!

No, I don't. That's not how it works here. Here, your employer can fire you at any time, for any reason. As soon as there are no more projects, they kick you out. You may get some small amount of money for a few months, but that's all. Then, you're on your own. Here, its not like in Iran where you can't be fired after a certain time. Here, people usually work many different jobs in their lifetimes. In fact, companies like to fire people - their stock values go up!

I'll just get an ordinary job! I'll work as a waiter if I have to.

You barely speak English, you have no job experience, and worse, you're Iranian and are seen here as a potential terrorist. So why would any employer hire you and not that Mexican or that young, sexy college girl? Tell me, do you know how to work as a waiter? Do you know how to carry food, mix drinks, speak to people and get their orders? Do you have any idea what kind of food they eat here? No, you don't, and there are 10 other people who want that same job and they have more experience than you.

But there must be jobs there; what do people do?

Nursing is in demand, and so is plumbing...

Akh! You want me to come to the US and work with sick people and fix pipes?

Don't worry aziz, you can't work as a nurse if you wanted, because it takes at least 2 years of education. And the plumbers here earn very good money, but you can't be a plumber if you wanted to either

I can't even be a plumber there? Why not?

Because neither you nor any of your relatives are members of the plumbers union! You think they'll just let any idiot work as a plumber or electrician or automechanic here like in Iran?

So what do people do?

Oh I guess you can do some low-level office job. Maybe you can convince one of these Pakistanis to let you work in their baghali store as a cashier. Or you could drive a taxi but you can get shot and robbed in both jobs!

Zeki! I can drive a taxi in Iran! You want me to work for a Pakistani?

Look, I am not telling you not to come to the US. I am just telling you about the realities of life here. Unless you're a surgeon who can pass the exams here, or have some other skill that does not exist in the US, you will have to do menial jobs - and yes, work for Blacks, Pakistanis, Arabs, whatever.

But what about all of those Iranians who come to the US and become rich?

Sure there are a few but most came with lots of money. And for each one of those there are 1000 poor badbakhts who live in rat-infested apartments, drive taxis or have other shitty jobs, and have no life - and are very alone. Look, the people who are lucky and have orzeh will succeed, whether in Iran or USA or China or Japan.

So you're saying I don't have any orzeh?

Let's face it - There are people making money in Iran, and if we had orzeh we'd be making money there too instead of travelling a million miles away to live with strangers. No, I am just saying you shouldn't look at the US as heavan on earth, where all your problems will be solved. What do you think goes on in America!?

But I want to be free. I want to say whatever I want and go where want and do what I want!

And what the hell do you have to say that is so important anyway? Sure, in the US you can say whatever you want - and only sometimes they take you away to Guantanamo and say you're a terrorist and torture you - but yes, you can generally say whatever you want. But that doesn't mean they'll put you on TV as soon as you arrive here. People here are busy, they work 10 hours a day, they don't care what you have to say! You can stand on the street and yell all you want, next to the other crazy people. And the only place you can go is to work and back - if you get a job - for at least 10 hours a day, like everyone else.

If it's so bad, then why did you go there?

Why do you think my email address is

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