Diary Of An Iranian Teacher
جمعه 26 فروردین‌ماه سال 1384
David Letter
I am now calm, and prepared to answer your question regarding prejudice and racism in my country. I believe that's what you were asking me about. My country has had a history of racism, and injustice towards  minorities. I think that it's human nature to be frightened by those who are "different" than  yourself. What's interesting, and not widely known, is that it didn't only exist with African Americans. As immigrants started coming to this country early in the century, every new wave of people were discriminated against by the native born Americans. An example of this is the discrimination against the Irish immigrants. That was followed by the Italian immigrants, and later by the Jewish immigrants as well. All these groups, dealt with some type of prejudice and discrimination. It wasn't until they assimilated into the culture that this subsided. In those days it was very important to be "American," and to act American. This often meant having to give up ones language and culture to fit in with the rest of society. My father had a difficult time when he was a child in school, because he spoke only German at home. His teacher would hit him on top of his hands with a ruler if he spoke German in class. His brothers and sisters could not speak to one another in German  at school. Not even to each other. Being "different" was not good in those days here. My father ended up being unable to speak his own language, when he grew up, because he forgot how.  African Americans have experienced racism and prejudice here as well. Things have changed a great deal since I was a child. We didn't have segregation in the northern states, but it existed in the southern states. I grew up with all nationalities and colors. We were poor, so we lived in an area with other poor people, who were mostly black and Hispanic. I never thought about color until an incident occurred when I was twelve years old. That was my first experience with racism and prejudice. I still can remember it vividly to this day. As I said, my neighborhood was mostly black and Hispanic, so most of my friends were too. There was a festival on the other side of town that we had heard about, and wanted to go and see it. I remember a bunch of us kids from the neighborhood went together to this festival across town. I remember being so excited about it. We never had festivals like this in our area. It was on a beautiful warm summer's night, and all of us were happy to be going to the festival. When we finally got there, the festival was in full motion. There were all kinds of food being sold, and rides, and games being played. It was exciting! After getting there a while, most of us split up, and looked around at everything. We weren't there for more than fifteen minutes, when a boy that we knew who was from that neighborhood came running up to us ,very excited, and out of breath. He had something to tell us. He told us that the people there didn't like our "friends" and that we should leave right away ,because they were planning on beating us all up for being there. I couldn't believe this! It sounded unreal to my ears. How can this happen in America? How can someone tell us that we're not welcome in a public place? We knew by this boys expression that he was serious, and we better listen to his warning and leave immediately. The only problem was, that everyone had split up, and it took time to gather everyone together to leave. By the time we had found everyone and were leaving the festival, it was too late. We soon found ourselves being followed by a crowd of young men with sticks in their hands. They surrounded us and began shouting insults at us. They were angry that we had brought these brown skinned people to their festival. They spat in our faces and started hitting us with their fists. As I looked around for help, I saw older adults standing watching us get beaten. In my home , adults stopped fights, not watched or encouraged them. Finally the police arrived, and we were so happy to see them. But you wouldn't believe what they said to us. They took the side of the crowd against us, and asked us "what are you doing in this neighborhood"? Can you imagine that? His only question was why we were there, not why we had been beaten and assaulted for. That was a long time ago, and the world's a different place now. But to this very day, I don't attend festivals. That was my first experience with prejudice. I'm thankful that I never learned to hate like that. My fathers words are still true. We are all Gods children. I always remember that. But I remember how angry we all were being treated that way. My brother, I hope that I answered all your questions for you. Sorry about the trip down memory lane. I can't shut up sometimes. Take care my friend.

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