I worry that I do not do justice to my community whilst representing them here. I have so much respect and awe for my dear community members that I do not hesitate to make jokes—because I know that their virtues are clearly visible to anyone with an open heart. Just for fun, here are some clichés about Persians that I would love to deflate. As always, communication and understanding lead to love. To know us is to love us.
• For anyone who says Persians have too many cousins: Persians are extremely family oriented. While most people do not know their second and third cousins, Persians know, love and host third cousins. Further, we have choshevands. Choshevands are not cousins or relatives. They’re basically extended in-laws. For example, my sister-in-law’s parents and siblings are my closest choshevands. So, when people say Persians have a lot of cousins, it’s just an innocent misunderstanding.
• For anyone who says Persians eat a lot: Just because we serve a lot of food doesn’t mean we eat a lot. You see, there’s a concept called tarof. Basically, in tarof, Persians are so kind and selfless that if there are three people and only two chocolate cookies and two vanilla cookies left, no one will touch a cookie so he doesn’t wind up taking the one that another person longed for. Also during tarof, the three members repeatedly offer the cookies to one another. To alleviate all members from this demanding situation, a proper host provides ample food of all varieties.
• For anyone who says Persians waste a lot: Anyone who knows anything about Persian history in most regions knows that this is generally not a culture brought up on a silver spoon. Persians have earned their lot with honesty, sweat and blessings from above. Therefore, wastefulness is not a quality we share. Even if we do cook too much, Persians are smart and thoughtful enough to distribute the leftovers amongst themselves.
• For anyone who says Persians are cheap: Personally, I am cheap. I love a bargain and I don’t buy strawberries unless they are on sale. I am, however, an exception and not a rule. Penny-pinching people do not invite friends to lavish meals, and do not send their children to expensive private schools. Stingy people do not contribute to charities. So, I am proud to say, then, that Persians cannot be stingy. I already mentioned how much extra food Persians provide. Persians also constitute a promi-nent population in local private schools. Now, please allow me to boast about how many generous benefactors we have in our community. I am truly proud to share the Persian nationality with so many patrons who help build community centers, schools and hospitals. They contribute to food banks, ambulances, families in need and organizations around the globe. In our community, truly everyone in his own right and based on his own ability, regularly donates selflessly. Of course, this is not meant to belittle any other group of people, as I am aware that this kind spirit dwells in many people throughout our diverse communities.
• For anyone who says Persians all look alike: OK, I will accept that. Bigots everywhere: Feel free to do a little bit of a victory dab. You are somewhat right. That is, many Persians have dark hair, dark skin and dark eyes. I guess to an outsider that’s a lot to have in common. But, I must have the last word and say that there are some full-blooded Persians with natural blond or even red hair and light features.
Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to dispute anything and everything I’ve written here.
Read “Confessions of a Persian Mom: Addressing Stereotypes, Part 2.”