Like I'm from Pluto
cry for us half-Iranians, cry for yourselves
By Lance Raheem
June 3, 2004
My name is Lance,... well that's what my dad calls
me. My mom likes to call me Raheem. I am a kid... nearly a teenager
really, so you
might not think what I want to say is important, but I want to
say it anyway.
I read Aghaye Bahmani's, Persian
vs. Iranian, Khanumeh
footsie with facts and Aghaye Mohsen's
from Purrrsia. It is interesting to discover that adult
Iranians have so much trouble agreeing on who and what they are.
Whether you want to call yourself Iranian, Persian, or just a
cuddly fat cat is okay with me because in the end you all accept one another
as part of the big Iranian family. Some us, including me, are not accepted
as part of the big Iranian family. I'm not crying about it, I just
telling it like
it is. My mom disagrees, but she is fooling herself.
You see, unlike my mother and most of you, I belong to a group
of people with Persian.... oops... I mean... Iranian blood in
our bodies, who are not really
accepted by most Iranians. Probably most of you never even think
about us. We are pretty much invisible to you. Who are we? We are the
mixed kids of Iranians and non-Iranians. In me and my sister's case, we are
An Ameranian is just like an Amerasian. You know, those
kids who are half-American and half-Vietnamese who nobody accepts;
we are just like them. We aren't alone
though. The world is full of Canaranians, Britranians, Frenranians, Japranians,
Koranians, Indranians, Pakranians, Germranians and many, many more. All
of us grow up with one foot in two worlds, neither of them accepting
however. We are the children of you brothers and sisters, but most
of you do not regard us as part of you at all.
Since most of
you have not ever given us much thought, let me tell you that we come
in two types:
The first type is where the our baba is the Iranian
and our mom is the non-Iranian. The
second type is where our dad is the non-Iranian and our mom
is the Iranian. Type I kids are more accepted by Iranian people than
Type II kids. Your acceptance is not complete though
and is always given with a lot of hesitation, even for
Those in the second group are really difficult for
many of you to stomach, especially Iranian men. Me and my sister
are Type II's. I have
a cousin who is a Type I because my dad's older sister married an Iranian
Ameranians there is competition between the first type and the second.
cousin, Reza, sticks it in our face that he can have two passports
because his dad is Iranian, but since our mom is, we are of
a lower class of Ameranians.
At least that is what Reza likes to joke about. Reza is a jerk, but
he is like me and he knows it full. I'm sure we will always
stick together because birds of a feather flock together.
what a butt-head Reza is at times, he knows how
it feels, just like I do, to go to Iran and have family members
treat us like we are freaks of nature. Reza told me that
when he went to Iran last with his mom and dad, his Iranian cousins
wanted to show him off to the neighbors,
like he was some kind of pet dog or something.
He said that
they would talk bad about him while he was standing there
even though they knew he
could understand everything, or at least most of what, they
said. Reza told me they said he was they're dumb foreign cousin
who couldn't speak Farsi very
well and they joked about his funny accent and his cloths and stuff.
He said that he was happy when it was time to leave and come back
I know how he feels exactly, but being a Type II Ameranian, my
Iranian relatives like
me even less. Everybody that is, except my baba bozorg
and maman bozorg who always try to make me feel loved and
like I'm part of the
family. My cousins, though, treat me like I am from
My mom tells me every time we go that I should try to
get along with them and understand that they are just curious about
me. She doesn't
want to accept that they hate me because they feel I don't belong
and I don't fit in.
Last year, for example, we went to Iran
and my cousins wanted to go outside and play. I was 11
then and they were 9, 10 and 11.
They said let's play war, so I said okay. Then the middle one,
Hassan, said let's play "kill the Americans", and
I said let's play, "kill the Iranians." They said, "but
your mom is from Iran." I
said "yeah, but my dad is from America!"
they wouldn't play with me at all for the next two weeks. They
just ignored me. I guess
that I should be happy they didn't make fun of my Farsi though,
like Reza's cousins did. I think that my mom spent a lot more time
torturing me to learn
Farsi than Reza's dad did with him.
I don't know for sure, but
those of us with Iranian moms sure seem to have it a lot harder
than kids with Iranian dads. My
mom forced me to learn to read and write and speak and for what?
So, the people who read and write and speak her language can
make me feel like I'm from Pluto? Yeah, Reza got off a lot easier
than me growing up!!!
Reza and I get the same treatment
too. I think my dad's younger sister never liked my mom much or
his dad. Everytime we are around her family, they are just a little
toooooooooo polite. My
aunt doesn't seem to understand that you can't out tarof a
tarofer and believe me, my mom wrote the book on tarofing. I can
always feel the tension
in the room when my mom and my aunt are together.
mom isn't comfortable with any of my dad's family, really, except
Reza's mom. All of our American cousins have
blond hair and blue or green eyes. We don't. My sister
and me look
a lot like our mom and Reza looks like his dad. We all have
brown eyes and brown hair. Our cousins never let
us forget that
we don't look like them. Whenever terrorists do something terrible on
tv, they always ask us what we think about it. I
guess they think we
must support them since we have dark hair and eyes
like they do.
My dad and mom have been married a long time. They were married
in the olden days before cellular phones or PCs, if you can
believe that. Sometimes I think my dad is kind of weird and gross. My sister,
who is a lot older than me, thinks so too. When he thinks we
can't hear them talking, he tells my mom stuff like she
is "one hot Iranian chick" and that "he
wants some sugar." It's not sugar he wants at all though.
like the Ever-Ready Bunny and I bet my poor old mom is
his batteries run down one day. My sister says he
should act his
age instead of his shoe size. She says there is nothing more
gross than thinking about your parents "getting it on". One
thing is for sure though, my parents love each other and us and
me and my sister know
that will never change.
Although me, my sister and even our
cousin, Reza, have grown
up in a psychotic atmosphere where one parent is singing Googoosh
and the other Garth Brooks, all three of us have always
had our parents love
and acceptance. Sometimes we got our cultures mixed-up
a little... like the time when I was in kindergarten and Santa
came to my
school. I thought that he was Hajji Ferouz and I asked him
why he was
turning white. My dad said it was because Hajji Firouz and Michael
Jackson were one and the same.
Another time, when my
sister was younger, she went
camping with a friend's family and they built a campfire.
My sister tried to show the kids how to jump over it like
on Char Shambeh Soori. My
mom still laughs when she tells the story of how the mother of
the friend came to her very upset, telling her my sister kept
trying to get her children to jump into the fire. She said that
she knew they name of a good
child psychiatrist that could help.
As I have gotten
older, I have learned that when American kids see my mom, or hear
her speak, many of them look
at me differently from then on. They think that I am less American
than them. When Iranians see my dad the same
thing happens, except they completely treat me as a foreigner even though
I speak Farsi as well as their kids. I know I speak without an
accent because my mom began teaching me to speak when
I was a baby and my grandpa in Iran has told me many
times that I speak without an American accent.
We get the
cold shoulder from both sides. That's why I said at the beginning
we have one foot in each world, but aren't completely
by either. Don't
cry for us though, cry for yourselves. We know, accept
and like who we
are, but you guys don't seem to accept who you are. You can't
even agree among yourselves who you are. Whether you want
to call yourself Persian, Iranian, or Fat Cats, you should
thank your lucky stars that you all have
a lovely country and a culture to be proud of.
Whether you wish to one day accept
us fully, or not.... one thing is
for sure. No matter how different you think we are from
you... we know we are in many ways the same. My
mom tells us to be proud of being Iranian,
like her. But, we know that we are not like her. Regardless
of that fact, I will always be proud of who I am because it
makes my mommy-joon happy, I want to put all people from Iran
on notice who call themselves Iranians,
Persians, or Fat Cats that as an Ameranian, I claim my Persian/Iranian/Fat
Cat heritage and so do my sister and Reza, too!
About the painter
Ali Dadgar is having an open studio at 1556
Seventh Street in Oakland (CA, 94607) on June 5, 6, 12 and 13
reception Sunday June 13, 8 pm. For information call 510 251 1636
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
goodbye to spam!