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“What are you? Let me guess.”

Reem Totonchi, Madison, WI. The guesses are almost never correct, unless they come from a fellow Middle-Easterner. “Where are you from?” they ask, eyes smiling and already knowing. “I’m half-Iraqi and half-Irish,” I say with a smile back. I never mind the question when it’s like this; less accusatory and exotifying than usual. In a […]

Is your uncle Osama bin Laden?

Tiffany Compton, Colorado Springs, CO. I always thought I was like everyone else until a kid in my 6th grade class asked me this question. After 9/11 my Middle Eastern background has been stereotyped and my life hasn’t been the same.

I’m Middle Eastern but I’m white?

Ilana New York, NY I grew up in Israel to a father born in Germany and a mother born in the United States. Yet every time I tick the “white” box I feel uncomfortable. The culture I grew up in was considered “white” but the Middle East is ethnically diverse. Everyone was a “mixed breed” […]

What are you, anyway?

Abigail Curtis Belfast, ME I am an American mutt! Dominican, middle eastern, white. I don’t think these words are said with hostility, but they always make me stop and think.

White husband became Iranian September eleventh.

Maren Robinson Chicago, IL I watched how my American-born half-Iranian husband went from being perceived as white (Iranians are Caucasian) to being perceived as vaguely “middle eastern” (eliciting double takes on trains and extra searches at airports) after September 11th. He is an actor, so I have also watched him play characters who are Caucasian, […]

So, you do not practice Islam?

Afra Sumeir-Zmolek Grand Prairie, TX People see me without a head scarf, holding my American husband hand and my “white” son, normally people address my white 6 foot tall husband, or if I’m with my son only, they do small talk addressing my son! Immediately people try to put me in a pigeon hole when […]

Middle Eastern ancestry. Asian? African? White?

Lauren Mooney Elk Grove, CA As children, my mother always referred to us as Lebanese Leprechauns. She was first generation American, of hard-working Lebanese immigrants. My father was of Scots-Irish decent; his family having immigrated several generations earlier. American first and foremost, both parents also made sure we knew about the cultures of our ancestors. […]

“You don’t look Iranian!” “I am.”

Rom Barkhordar Chicago, IL This was a brief exchange with someone I just met who, to his defense, had a few beers and was feeling rather boisterous. I explained to him that I am an actor in Chicago, doing a theatrical production where I play a middle-eastern character. He is also an actor, but found […]

Race adopting outside Race,…. least racist.

Tod Carey Laguna Woods, CA In my 66 years,.. I don’t recall seeing an Hispanic couple with their adopted Black baby in the baby carriage. I can’t recall ever seeing an Asian couple walking down the street hand in hand with their adopted White child. For the life of me,… I don’t remember ever seeing […]