My friend was teasing me about starting a blog and casually joking about how I should review my boyfriend. Of course this was his idea of a joke but I thought this was a brilliant idea given the current political climate. So I must give him all the credit. A few days after Trump had introduced the travel ban on seven countries including Iran, news of alleged planned military attack on Iran surfaced. My boyfriend in despair said to me “I’m really scared – I have family back home. What if something horrible happens?” Although I comforted him that nothing would happen, I was panicking for him. I would be afraid too if it was my country and my family.
Disclaimer: This is solely based on my experience and thoughts. I am not an expert in the topic and do not claim to be. I do apologise if anything I have said pertaining to politics or religion is not exactly accurate. Of course, everyone’s experiences aren’t the same but these are just my opinions.
Growing up, I never saw myself as a racist person and in fact I thought of myself to be very aware of racial and gender biases. I think this was especially the case since I was a women of colour and grew up in a multicultural country – I thought surely I can’t be racist? I think from an early age I developed an idea of what the Middle East must be like (full of sand? no stability?). Even at that point it never occurred to me that I may be making generalisations. In my mind, I was a passionate person who understood global issues well. However, I only started actively challenging my own opinions when I got to know a few boys from Iran – two of whom I became really good friends with. It became quite clear through my questions and causal remarks that I was pretty ignorant. I remember causally making foolish statements in assumption that women in Iran wore the Burqa and even going to the extreme and asking if women were allowed to step out of the house. Of course, at that time I thought they were simple innocent questions not realising my ignorance. Someone at some point during this time had asked me how they treated me (i.e. given I was a women), and then only did I realise the discrimination that they must go through on a daily basis. These boys were genuinely the nicest and most respectful people I had ever met in my life. (One of them is still my *best* friend to this day and other later became my boyfriend and still is).
As for my relationship, we are unfortunately pretty basic. We literally do everything any other couple does. Of course, we have days where we argue about some pretty petty things. There’s been nothing but mutual respect for each others beliefs and values. Fundamentally thinking about it (other than where we come from), there’s not really that much different about us. We have similar personalities and interests. Although theoretically I knew this, being in a relationship with someone from a really different background has made me realise this. In fact our different backgrounds I think is a plus point! We learn each others languages (my farsi isn’t terrible now) and try to cook different types of food – this honestly makes things so much more exciting and fun. We’ve been together for 2 years now and we have learnt to embrace our own and each others backgrounds – and it’s been working so far.
I am still not perfect and I do still make silly comments from time to time. But what I try to do is to actively realise that I may be making generalisations. Dating Arian has really made me realise how sometimes it may be easy to point fingers and call out other people’s racism but how it is harder to acknowledge and recognise our own biases. It’s not just the U.S, discrimination and racism exists everywhere. Perhaps this is a naive viewpoint, but I do genuinely feel that getting to know someone from a community that you may have certain viewpoints of may be the first step. And who knows – you may just end up falling in love! x