Our Discussions

Iranian-American Term
1 ( a pedar)

I am an Iranian with non Iranian wife and American son and have a big comment and concern.....

Please stop using the term "Iranian-American".

I know where is this coming from. This is because we hear a lot "African American" term in Radio, TV, and read on news papers. BUT IT'S WRONG.

Have you ever heard the term "English-American" OR " Irish-American" OR "French-American"?

In my opinion this helps to racism in our community and society in large.

Lets talk about it....


2 ( a mother)

Hi Pedar # 1,

Looking at your comment, it raises a good point. My first thought is that the term "Iranian-American" coincides with other similar ethnic identifications like, arab-american, asian-american. I haven't placed it as a similar identification on the term "african-american" which I've thought of as more race-oriented rather than ethnic based. I don't agree with your view of where the term originates (tv, radio etc. using the term "african-american"). I also don't agree that adding "-american" after an ethnic orientation continues a racist or bias thought. I wonder how other countries use this term - for example, is the term english-iranian used?

Other thoughts? It's a good discussion point.


3 ( a mother)


I agree with Mother # 2. I was born in the USA to Norwegian parents, I am married to an Iranian and now living in England. In Norway the term "norsk-amerikanere" that is "Norwegian-American" is a common term referring to Norwegians who have immigrated to the USA. The term actually stays for generations and there is nothing negative in this connection. It is merely a descriptive phrase to identify a group with this background.

4 ( a madar)

Dear Pedar # 1,

I am Iranian-American because I was born in this country to an Iranian father and an American mother; I lived a great deal of the first half of my life in Iran. In my opinion, the term "Iranian-American" is a heritage marker, not a phrase that provokes racism. In your email, you ask if anyone has ever heard the terms Irish-American or French-American. Indeed, these terms are used all the time. Perhaps you have not lived in American for long. It is the character of "American-ness" to acknowledge your heritage with these phrases. It is meant to engender pride, not shame or hate.


5 ( Pedar # 1)

Dear Madar # 4,

Thanks for the comments..

Well I must say that the statement made here is quite powerful in its message!

I have never liked the term African American....frankly I find it demeaning. Not all Africans are black and not all Blacks are African and that is the image the term represents.

I strongly believe and agree that using the nationality as a prefix to American for that matter does aid in the creation of racial factions in our society. People are labled and thus separated.

As someone who was born and raised in Iran but, lived in America for more than 20 years, I am often faced with this dilema: am I Iranian or American or Iranian-American? Personally I have never referred to myself as Iranian-American. The term has never felt right to me. I think something is missing.

I don't know what\why?

Thanks again,


6 ( a pedar)

Pedar # 1 Aziz,

I was resisting getting involved in this discussion for a while but I cannot resist it anymore.

Being different is not being inferior or superior! Having differences is good and beautiful! It does certainly not create friction except for the least tolerant of us. I live North of the border in Toronto, a city that its biggest strength is its diversity and multiculturalism. I am sorry to say that Canadian (with all pre-fixes, Iranian, English, Irish, French, ...) observation of our southern neighbors is that they have low level of tolerance; and maybe this is cause of your concern.

I definitely agree with you about the term African American, a term created by anxiously self-centered people who do not bother about learning about others. Just like English use the term Black Minority for anyone who is not European, including Iranian! I am glad to say that Canadian do not consider Iranian black! I am also glad that the black people in Canada do not identify themselves as African Canadian. They identify themselves as Egyptian Canadian, Somali Canadian, Jamaican Canadian, etc.

Enjoy the gift of understanding two cultures and their unique idiosyncrasies. Enjoy Hafez and Poe. Be proud of Razi and Einstein and other good things in both and try to change the bad things in each and avoid the term African American. And above all identify yourself completely, not just by your first name (Iranian) or last name (American)!

An Iranian Canadian

7 ( a pedar)

This land is the land of immigrants. The roots of all people here started by a parent, grandparent or great grandparent who came to this land to find better opportunities for himself or herself and providing that opportunity for his or her next generations.

However, there are two types of immigrants. Those who chose to come and those who were forced to come. Either way, they came and made this land their home.

Those who chose to come remember their heritage but understand that they came here to find a better life. Since their decision to leave "mother land" was voluntary, the adoption of this new home came easy to them. They came here and quickly transitioned into the society of "Americans".

Those who were forced to come remember their heritage and had to struggle with adopting this land as their new home, and want to live the life they had, in this adopted home. This is evident in all backgrounds; Chinese, Japanese, German, Norwegian, Iranian, Arab, African, you name it. The terms Chinese-American, Iranian-American, African-American are adopted by those who wish to stress their heritage and wanting to have a differentiation with "Americans".

However, by differentiating ourselves with such "*****-American" terms, we stress that "I am not like you". It reminds me of Dr. Suess's book where the characters are from the land of "butter side up" and "butter side down" and they are convinced that they are "different" from each other. If anyone has not read the book, as a Madar or Pedar, you must read it(:-) and read it to your children.

Let's not forget that it was not that many years ago that, for some, the stress was on remaining "Iranian" and becoming "American" was shameful. Now as we have the term "Iranian-American". That's progress. My guess is that eventually we all become "Human-American".

Happy thoughts,

8 ( a madar)

I think this can go on for ever and be argued either way...

It's a no-win situation depending on how you look at it!

But this is what I have in mind:

I don't think the term "????-American" is referring to any race. If one calls himself as a "white-Hispanic" for example, then we're talking about race in here!!

Also, "African-American" term I believe was created to have a politically correct name for Americans whose race is black because calling blacks "Black" sounds too racist, and it is!!

We don't normally refer to people we know (or don't know) by their race or color of skin if we don't want to sound racist. We may, however, refer to them by their nationalities.....

I personally never called myself an "Iranian-American" (I guess it never occurred to me!!) I always called myself "Persian" or "Iranian". However, I've never had any problem with those who choose the term "Iranian-American". I think these hyphenated terms are more emphasizing on one's background and heritage.

Another thing, I don't think there is anything wrong with differentiating ourselves from others. The truth is that we are different! We have a different background (Iranian) to begin with, different culture, different language, different type of food, and even different looks, names, you name it!!! By calling yourself either way, "Iranian" or "Iranian-American", you are saying that you are different anyway! Not better, but different! We differentiate our kids by naming them differently, don't we?!

P.S. by the way, I love Dr. Suess's stories! He's great! :)

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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