Racialicious posted an entry calling out SNL and Iranian cast member Nasim Pedrad for casting her in brown face to play Indian-American Aziz Ansari.
The thing is, what Racialicious did is exactly what I have encountered repeatedly in my life – being Iranian often means you don’t exist. Not as an Iranian anyway. Instead, I’ve been called and categorized as Arab, as Middle Eastern, and then of course there is the legal categorization of Iranians as White/Caucasian.
Here is my response to the post – awaiting moderator approval:
“On the one hand I completely get this and am annoyed that this happened – and continues to happen in media. On the other hand, I cannot help but be triggered because I feel like there is a subtle and not subtle way in which Nassim Pedrad’s identity as a not White person is being ignored. I, like Pedrad, am Iranian (I happen to be half) and I find that so often we Iranians and many other of us Others from that general part of the West Asian/East African world who are classified in the we-didn’t-choose-this-name title of Middle Eastern are ignored as being not White people. What annoys me about SNL is the use of a brown person to portray another brown person from that same general-ish area. And then I am annoyed that Pedrad’s brownness is also ignored. Here’s the deal, I know that as Iranians we are legally considered White. I have filled out enough paperwork that leaves me out to know this. And because of White supremacy and colonization and ll those lovely things, many Iranians love the idea of being classified as white. At the same time, ask me when a white person treated me like I am white…ZERO times. We are Others. Like so many other Others we sometimes can hide it, but the clues are always there. Pedrad’s name and physical features are give aways.
And, I am annoyed at Pedrad. I don’t know the circumstances of this situation. Maybe she thought it was funny. Maybe she thought it was terrible. I don’t know. I do know I wish she had said no.”