Dorsa Hanaei

Student in Athens, Georgia

Dorsa Hanaei

Student in Athens, Georgia

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“You’re Persian? I thought you were white!” is something I hear way too often. Yes, technically I am both the nationality and the race, respectively, so then I have to explain how although I am Persian, when applications ask race on those little boxes, I check White, Asian, and, if available, other. Although I am white and the Middle East is in Asia, most applications refer to Asian the race, as East Asian countries. Unfortunately, my Persian-ness does not really have a category. I was raised in a traditional Persian family unit educated on haggling, traditions, and the great empire we once had. With being Persian came some classic identifiers: saying ‘tree’ instead of ‘three’, drenching ourselves in perfume or cologne, and getting a nose job. But besides all the jokes, being Persian is important to us – although it might not be easy at times. Iranian- Americans, like I, have felt these long-lasting effects of xenophobia, as many people view us as outsiders. Throughout my life, my parents told me stories of their transition and assimilation into American culture and their time in America during the Iranian Revolution; during the eighties, slowly the attitude Americans’ and the world, frankly, had towards Iranians started to shift from acceptance and kinship to disgust and fear. The uneasy feeling many have about the Middle East, and especially about Iran is something that we Iranians have learnt to deal with, because this is territory that all Persians must encounter. Nonetheless, it is a community with incredible traditions and a strong unwavering pride that is passed down through our blood.