Race Politics

Considering why Middle Easterns Deserved to be Recognized

Posted by Chloé Moshrefi on July 30, 2021

I do not look white, nor do I consider myself to be white. I was born at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital in San Diego on July 14, 2004 to Iranian immigrant parents at 6:14 a.m. Farsi was my first language, and I went to my first day of preschool not knowing a single word of English. My mom’s eyes flooded with tears as my teacher told me to put my backpack in a cubby and sit on the rainbow rug for class to begin. I looked at her with utter confusion, and my mom needed to translate for me. In disbelief, my parents thought they made the biggest mistake not communicating with me in the way other parents in the classroom had with their own children. Now, I understand that speaking and understanding farsi is one of the biggest blessings they provided me.

I took my first STAR or Standardized Testing and Reporting Exam as a second grader in Spring of 2012 and distinctly remember using my no. 2 pencil to bubble in “WHITE” only to raise my hand to ask my teacher a very important question. I said, “Mrs. Gilbert, should I erase here and fill out ''OTHER”?'' She replied to me by saying, “No Chloe, keep it the way it is.” As an eight year old, I later went up to my Iranian best friend Ella and asked what she entered. In mutual agreement, we discussed that we don’t feel white, so why isn’t there an option that represents our identity?

Census forms, most applications, and standardized tests, to name a few, ask us to mark one of the following races: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Other Hispanic, and White. As a Middle Eastern myself, I believe that we make up our own community, so why are we erased from the picture?

As a now 11th grader and soon to be College student, I am starting to recognize that schools and universities are taking a push towards more diverse student populations which include all colors and types of people. An analysis by the LA Times proved that over 80% of people of Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern, or North African descent have identified as white in past census surveys; with 85% of Iranians in specific. If there are hopes for a more diverse student body with decreasing white percentages, then this statistic is proven to be wrong. Therefore, not including “Middle Eastern” as a separate race, in turn actually numerically hurts them as well.

Historical events such as 9/11 and terrorist acts also place a public stigma on our race, and I know this because even my white friends don’t think they share a nationality with me. It’s quite obvious we are not considered the same when It’s as if I am split between two paradoxes: one at home where I eat Persian food for dinner and listen to Persian music, to another where I am just another American kid. Following the Trump presidency, there is an exponentially higher desire for “white passion,” with extremists exemplifying high conservative spirit. Whiteness in the past decade has been narrowed to an extremely specific demographic and there is no way we are externally seen as equal.

In conclusion,I believe it would be optimal not only for Middle Easterners to have our own category; but also for universities and our nation to have an accurate representation of every included population. Who else agrees?