NowComment
2-Pane Combined
Comments:
Full Summaries Sorted

We Are Here, We Have Always Been Here: Bay Area Iranians

Author: Ida Mojadad

0 General Document comments
0 Sentence and Paragraph comments
0 Image and Video comments


An international conference hosted by San Francisco State University brings together the Iranian American diaspora — one that has flourished, noticed or not, in the Bay Area.

New Conversation
Paragraph 1 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 2 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 4 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 3 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 5 (Image 1) 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Image 0
No whole image conversations. Start one.

Bay Area resident Bella Warda, pictured with her brother Bendad Warda in the 1970s, is part of a documentary on Iranians in the Bay Area. (Photo courtesy Bella Warda)

New Conversation
Paragraph 6 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

With just a handful of Iranian families alongside hers as she grew up in Marin County, author Jasmin Darznik felt like they were too small even to be a minority.

New Conversation
Paragraph 7 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 8 (Video 1) 0
No video-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Video 0
No video-level conversations. Start one.

It felt as though everyone knew one another, or at least came together over a shared culture and similar experiences of moving to the United States amid the turmoil of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. But Darznik was caught between two worlds, one where her parents wouldn’t let her date and another where she questioned why they couldn’t have “normal” food like her classmates.

New Conversation
Paragraph 9 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 1 0
profile_photo
May 3
Temuujin S (May 03 2021 12:31PM) : This reminds me of when I first moved to the US, I didn't know anyone and it was very awkward. In Hungary I had known a lot of people and it was easy to make friends, but in the US it was weird to go up to kids and just play alongside with them. [Edited]
profile_photo
May 3
Camila V (May 03 2021 12:39PM) : Scary [Edited] more

Same thing happened to me, I felt so scared when I came to this country the first time, and especially when I went to BHS for the first time, I didn’t know anyone, and the buildings were too big for me. Nowadays, I am so grateful with every single person that I met in BHS, I made incredible friendships and also I learned amazing things from them.

profile_photo
May 5
Arooj S (May 05 2021 12:38PM) : Agree more

The same thing happened to me; I was terrified to see so many strangers. Since my home country is not diverse, it was difficult for me to adjust to different people and cultures.

profile_photo
May 3
Edwin Odir S (May 03 2021 5:10PM) : memory more

this reminds me of the revolution that took place in El Salvador, because a lot of people moved either to USA or to new places inside the country.

profile_photo
May 5
sephora b (May 05 2021 4:29PM) : related more

I felt the same way when I arrived at MLK everything was new, and all the kids knew each other. I didn’t know any English back then so everything felt alien I was in my own bubble.

New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
May 3
Watcharapong S (May 03 2021 5:28PM) : Freedom more

This make me think they migrate to America to have freedom but they restrict their own daughter freedom? Why?

profile_photo
May 26
Risalah O (May 26 2021 11:20AM) : Similar more

When i first came to me it was different from my country a whole generation because everything was so different in the united states. I came in a very young age so i don’t remember much how it was but when i grew up older i felt that difference being in America.It was different for me as well meeting new people and being around different cultures.

“I tried to hide how strict my parents were. I was really angry but I was also very ashamed,” Darznik says. “I felt like my American friends just didn’t get that, and that we were backwards.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 10 0
profile_photo
May 3
Camila V (May 03 2021 12:29PM) : Liberal more

This makes me think about how hard was for Iranians to adapt to a new whole system. They were coming from a conservative place, they had rules about how to dress and how to think and they just came to one of the most liberal places in the world known as the United states.

profile_photo
May 3
Watcharapong S (May 03 2021 5:32PM) : Adaptation more

I agree with you that it really hard for old people mindset to adapt to a new culture in different country.

New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11 (Video 2) 0
No video-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Whole Video 0
No video-level conversations. Start one.

Darznik, now a literature professor at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and Oakland, would go on to write the acclaimed books Songs of a Captive Bird and The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. But for most of her professional career, she felt very alone in centering Iranian American experiences.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

As the immigrant community starts to reflect on the revolution’s 40th anniversary, that feeling is melting away. Darznik is one of several speakers at San Francisco State University’s International Conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies from March 28-30. Mirroring the diaspora’s growing roots in this country, the conference brings together scholars, writers, and artists whose work has fleshed out complexities among the several generations of Iranian immigrants.

New Conversation
Paragraph 13 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
May 3
Anna M (May 03 2021 12:45PM) : Diaspora: a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived — usually singular
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“When you’re an immigrant writer or writer of color, you feel like you can only be one of us,” Darznik says. “There’s a real power that can come from that, from finding yourself in a community. There doesn’t only have to be one of us.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 14 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Among some of the topics: queer Iranian American women (Arizona State University’s Shadee Abdi), anti-Blackness among Iranians (Sacramento State University’s Sahar Razavi), and themes of longing and belonging in Persian pop music made by exiles (independent researcher Arash Saedinia). Darznik notes that many of the presenters are women, and many of the themes involve art.

New Conversation
Paragraph 15 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 1 0
profile_photo
May 3
Edwin Odir S (May 03 2021 5:16PM) : similarity more

this section makes me remember about an article I read about Iranian education, which states that most of the students were women as this articles says that most of the artists are women too.

New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

It’s no coincidence that SFSU is hosting. The conference is put on by the university’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, the first academic institution of its kind. In November, SFSU announced the center, along with its Documentary Film Institute, would produce We Are Here, We Have Always Been Here to document the Bay Area’s Iranian diaspora — another first.

New Conversation
Paragraph 16 0
profile_photo
May 26
Risalah O (May 26 2021 11:25AM) : question more

I wonder how generation was like back then.

New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 3 0
profile_photo
May 5
Arooj S (May 05 2021 12:45PM) : Question more

What kind of stories would We Are Here,We Have Always Been Here will include?

“I want to sort of show that it’s not a homogenous community. It’s not just the post-1979 upper class,” says Persis Karim, We Are Here’s co-director and the center’s director. “It’s about the Bay Area and the way the Bay Area has influenced them, as much as they’ve influenced the Bay Area.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 17 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
May 3
Anna M (May 03 2021 2:19AM) : Inference more

From this comment I can infer that many people from the wealthy upper class left Iran after 1979. I can also infer that not all Iranian immigrants fit this description

profile_photo
May 5
Arooj S (May 05 2021 12:47PM) : Agree more

I think many rich people moved to USA during the Islamic Revolution.

profile_photo
May 26
Risalah O (May 26 2021 11:27AM) : facts more

i agree with you

New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 3 0
profile_photo
May 3
Camila V (May 03 2021 12:32PM) : New thoughts [Edited] more

From my perspective, this is completely right. As an immigrant, I know this feeling because I have been very influenced by this country and a lot of people from here have been influenced by me. I also can imagine how grateful Iranians are with this country for opening their doors to them when they needed the most.

California has one the largest populations of Iranians outside Iran, but without a clear distinction by the U.S. Census — Iranians are among many left with either ‘White’ or ‘Some Other Race’ — it’s hard to tell exactly how many. Karim estimates that the state has closer to 1.5 million people of Iranian descent, of which the Bay Area is home to more than 100,000, but much attention is paid to wealthy residents of Los Angeles. That tends to overshadow stories of Iranian immigrants who reinvented themselves in the Bay Area, and how their children and grandchildren meshed that culture with an American upbringing.

New Conversation
Paragraph 18 0
profile_photo
May 26
Risalah O (May 26 2021 11:31AM) : inference more
think back then seems like Iranians were the most people to come to the United States based on the amount of how many Iranians were there back the.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
May 5
Arooj S (May 05 2021 12:35PM) : Inference [Edited] more

From this information, I can infer that there are 100,000 Iranian people living in the Bay Area.

New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Some Iranian Americans in or from the Bay Area include Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat host Samin Nosrat, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Karim also points to Torange Yeghiazarian, who founded San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions in 1996, establishing the first American theater company devoted to stories surrounding Middle Eastern perspectives and identities.

New Conversation
Paragraph 19 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“The San Francisco Bay Area is one of those places where you can really bring you to the table,” says Soumyaa Behrens, We Are Here’s co-director who leads SFSU’s Documentary Film Institute. “There’s that level of acceptance and welcoming — it goes beyond tolerance.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 20 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Like Nosrat, acclaimed chef Hoss Zare has helped that welcoming by bringing Iranian culture into the mainstream through food. After arriving from Iran in 1986, he traded his studies to become a brain surgeon and instead blended Persian flavors into popular foods — first at Ecco, then at five other Bay Area restaurants he opened and closed.

New Conversation
Paragraph 21 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Zare moved back to Iran in 2018 to settle family matters after his parents’ 2007 murders, but returned in November after feeling that it wouldn’t work any longer. He now feeds workers at companies like Google as Bon Appétit executive chef and hosts pop-up dinners, like a four-course dinner at Danville’s Albatross to celebrate Persian New Year — known as Norooz — on Wednesday.

New Conversation
Paragraph 22 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 22, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

“I felt that, even though I spoke their language, I didn’t know what they were saying,” Zare says. “Iran is the country that I love. I was born there, but now the United States is my country.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 23 0
profile_photo
May 3
Edwin Odir S (May 03 2021 5:31PM) : connection more

I can connect to this because I love my background country and even like that I know that is not the best option for me tp choose, because I literally have all my future in the USA.

New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 1 0
profile_photo
May 3
Anna M (May 03 2021 2:19AM) : Connection [Edited] more

This reminds me of the conflict between Jack and his mom in Paper Menagerie. They also struggled to communicate because his mom spoke mostly Chinese and he spoke English.

New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 23, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Whereas Zare’s generation lived through the revolution, 1979 hostage crisis, and Iran-Iraq War, newer generations have also grappled with a lack of misunderstanding from decades of negative headlines regarding Iran. Former President George W. Bush deemed Iran a part of the “Axis of Evil” after 9/11, as the country dealt with crippling economic sanctions over its nuclear program. Though a brief diplomatic period lasted under the Obama administration striking a nuclear deal, President Donald Trump undid the agreement, included Iran in his travel ban, and reinstated economic sanctions.

New Conversation
Paragraph 24 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 24, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But We Are Here is not about the challenges and what has been lost. It’s about the lives and successes that have emerged from Iranians in the Bay Area, how they do or don’t fit in, and how they come together for traditional celebrations like Norooz.

New Conversation
Paragraph 25 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 25, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

However, time is of the essence for the documentary, which is still fundraising to reach the goal of a March 2020 release. Earlier generations of Iranian immigrants are elderly, and with their loss comes a lack of valuable stories largely unrecorded. Separately but similarly, Karim is building a digital archive about the Bay Area’s Iranian American community through a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

New Conversation
Paragraph 26 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 26, Sentence 3 0
profile_photo
May 3
Anna M (May 03 2021 2:22AM) : Question more

What kind of information will be in this archive?

“We’re in danger of losing a whole generation of people without having documented it,” Karim says. “In 25 years, there will be a generation that will be hungry to figure out their own place in U.S. society. If you don’t claim that history, you’re not seen as having a history.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 27 0
profile_photo
May 3
Marlene O (May 03 2021 12:40PM) : This makes me think about how many undocumented immigrants that have serve The U.S, are still not able to own their freedom or a citizenship
profile_photo
May 3
Camila V (May 03 2021 12:49PM) : legal more

I agree with you! It is really sad to see how people who have been working their whole life for the United states are not able yet to get their citizenship or any legal document.

profile_photo
May 26
Risalah O (May 26 2021 11:34AM) : thoughts more

This made me think of the immigrants that are still not able to get there own citizenship and not have the freedom to do what they want like any other human beings living in America.

New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 1 0
profile_photo
May 3
Edwin Odir S (May 03 2021 5:27PM) : relevance more

this is very relevant to me because the way they respect elderly people is amazing.

New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 27, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ida Mojadad is a staff writer at SF Weekly.

New Conversation
Paragraph 28 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 28, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

DMU Timestamp: April 15, 2021 22:58

General Document Comments 0
Start a new Document-level conversation

Image
0 comments, 0 areas
add area
add comment
change display
Video
add comment

Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

Logging in, please wait... Blue_on_grey_spinner