Comparative Study Blog 2

 

Both Susan Atefat-Peckham and Roger Sedarat are Iranian-American poets. Even though both of these poets have Iranian parents, they grew up in the United States and live as citizens yet they face prejudice and hate for being different. In her work, Them, Susan Atefat-Peckham said to her young child that “they [the terrorists of 9/11] kind of look like us”. Because of the similar physical appearance, being from almost the same geographical location or even having the same religion as someone who has committed such a horrible act of terror, Middle Easterners and Muslims face prejudice and are even subjected to hate crimes. In Them, Peckham mentions “an angry person shot a sparsely attended Iranian restaurant” or when she hears Americans say “bomb them to the stone age”, “kill them all” and we can see acts of prejudice in Roger Sedarat’s Work, San Antonio, 1979, when he tells the reader that “they dragged [him] down the hallway by [his] hair”. Both works show the hardship people who are different living in United Stated which is a similar topic in all of our reading.

Another topic that comes up in these writings is the idea of being mixed, having two cultures.  Being both and being neither. Legal Alien by Pat Mora is another poem that brings up this idea as Them and San Antonio, 1979. Pat Mora writes in the poem that she is “Bi-lingual, Bi-cultural” and that she is “American but hyphenated” just like our other poets, Peckham and Sedarat, and that she is “an American to Mexicans” and “a Mexican to Americans”. Sedarat tells the reader that even though he is an American people still see him as the other and tell him “Hey Ayatollah you’re not welcome here! The U.S. is for us”. Also, just as the other two poets have experienced, Mora also sees that as a hyphenated American she is always “being pre-judged”.

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Other topics that creep up in both Pekham’s Them, and Sedarat’s San Antonio, 1979, is the hostage crisis of 1979. This even was such an important event that it is simply known as The Hostage Crisis which took place on November 1979 in Iran, where fifty-two diplomats and citizens of United States were held hostage until January 20th 1981 (a total of 444 days) as a group of university students that belonged to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line (which supported the Iranian Revolution of the time) took over the U.S. Embassy. In Pekham’s Them, she says that “I learned that being Iranian American on the playground was unsafe. If someone figured I was Greek, Italian or Spanish, all the better” and the same thing is seen in Sedarat’s San Antonio,1979 poem where he mentions that “Iranians never escape that year. My Father said, Tell people you’re from France”.

iran_hostage_crisis_-_iraninan_students_comes_up_u-s-_embassy_in_tehran(Students entering U.S. Embassy before they took over it completely, Tehran,1979)

I myself am an Iranian American and fortunately have never felt any prejudice, hate or discrimination personally due to my race. But it may be just because as a Baha’i and Iranian girl, I look more Hispanic than the stereotypical Middle Eastern Muslim girl with hijab. Maybe it’s because I speak Farsi/Persian and it sounds much smoother than the typical Arabic language people expect from Middle Easterners or Muslims that sounds a little harsher than my language. Or maybe I have just been lucky enough to be surrounded by educated, loving, open mined people from all corners of the world. But regardless of how easy I’ve had it compare to other people who face hardship, I am scared of the future. Maybe not just for me but for other refugees and mixed people living in the United States. Our history is full of decades and decades of discrimination and hate toward different groups of people. Even though I was not yet born during The Hostage Crisis, as an Iranian I have learned about the history of it from people like my father who was a teenager at the time. The stories of how a relatively small group of people caused The Islamic Revolution and how they caused things like this hostage crisis makes me think of how things are currently here in America. How a small group of people who preach hate and plant fear into people might cause similar events as what happened in Iran, and that right there is beyond scary.  But as Peckham also mentions “We are global citizens” and as Baha’is say “The world is but one country and mankind its citizen”, hopefully one day we all can understand that.

 

 

 

Peckham, Atefat. Them. Accessed 19 April 2017.

Sedarat, Roger. San Antonio, 1979. Accessed 19 April 2017.

Mora, Pat. Legal Alien. Accessed 1985. Accessed 19 April 2017. http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/poem-of-the-week-pat-mora-s-legal-alien/

Featured Image is an Illustration by Dongyun Lee

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6 comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading your perspective of the Iranian-American artists and their work. I actually am not very knowledgeable about the Iranian Revolution but you are lucky to have someone dear to you to educate you on the factual history of events. I totally agree with you when you say that our history is filled with decades and decades of hate. We hear news and read articles written to continue to “preach hate and plant fear” and that also makes me fear for our future because I ask myself, “When will this ever stop?” I hurt when people make assumptions of others based on their color or physical appearance. If some one wears a Hijab, why do others find it necessary to make a connection to 9/11. If some one has black long hair, big gold hoop earrings, brown eyes and skin, and speak Spanish people assume you just crossed the border. I also think it’s funny at times because you think, how can people be so small minded? Why is it difficult to for some people to accept others that are different from them. “We are global citizens” like Peckham says, we are all human, why can’t we just treat each other equally you know.

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    • Hey there. The movie Argo was supposed to show the struggle of Americans trying to escape this hostage crisis. I never watched it because honestly I was afraid it would make me mad. I will be watching it soon though. I was afraid to watch it because all of these Hollywood movies are directed to focus on the American view and typically dont show the full truth when it is “based on” the truth and when people complain that it is false in there they respond by saying well “its a movie and fictional” or that it is “very loosely based on facts” and some time (intentionally or unintentionally) they bring fear and hate toward that culture. Like what happened with the movie 300. Persian groups complain and some organizations protested that the movie manipulated the truth and so on but their response was “well this is technically a fictional work” but people who did not know the true history only got the false info from the movie.

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  2. i loved this! the pictures and everything! i am also bi cultural and i love everything about being different. i feel that it is what makes you more special. and i don’t understand why people have to be so mean. when people say”we don’t do that in our country” is totally wrong. because we all come from different backgrounds and we all are immigrants so no one is going to be allowed to say what we can’t or can not do ( in certain religious cultural factors) thank you for sharing your great story!

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  3. I enjoyed reading this. What kind of responses do you get when you tell people that you are not Hispanic? I have found when answering a question with a non-expected response the other person will pause and pretty much 100 percent on the time I get” WOW, you don’t look or act like a (Insert race)”. Yes, i know then I ask, now that you know how should I act? I know that my brain gets stuck in one place and can only see one way of life. Although I was told numerously that my way of thinking is the only way. Thank you for making the connections that we are a fluid and always migrating human race. It is in our nature to move from here to there for whatever reasons.

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    • well most of the time people come up and start talking to me in Spanish. I have to jump in pretty quick and apologize and say that I don’t speak Spanish and get someone for them if I’m at work. But once I did have an older lady that got mad at me for not speaking Spanish. After I told her that “i’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish, I can get someone for you” she spoke in English and said that “how can you forget your own language” and its our culture we should be proud and she went on a solid minute before I could jump in and apologize again and clarify that I DO speak my language and read and write and keep in touch with my heritage but it just happens to be non-Hispanic then she just walked away still kind of upset.

      but beside that most of the time they just ask where I’m from and so on then it always ends in “I really thought you were mexican too, you look like us”

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  4. This art picture tells so much of what some of us go through on a daily basis. I have had friends and people that I know that have felt like this girl in this picture that you posted up. The looks, the hatred flaring from the peers eyes is what some of us go through on a daily basis. When will we ever be just Americans without being labeled or disapproved of because of what we believe or where we come from? I hate it when someone messes up and all of a sudden the whole country is blamed for it. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    Liked by 1 person

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