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little boi blue: On African-American Vernacular English (Ebonics).




White people are steady fucking up today. I found this gem earlier. Some of the language may be confusing so I’ve provided the necessary translations.


I don’t understand why anyone uses it; it gives the impression of immaturity and, frankly, stupidity.


You completely misunderstood what I said and jumped to screaming racism. 

Let me go point by point:

 ”I don’t understand why anyone uses it; it gives the impression of immaturity and, frankly, stupidity.

Translation: I think Black people are stupid.”
Not at all. If anything, the opposite is true. There is no difference between blacks and whites. I expect everyone to use the same standard English that is expected in a professional environment. Being Black means nothing when it comes to presenting yourself professionally.

“What particularly bugs me is how Blacks often speak differently to Caucasians than they do among themselves. I mean, if Blacks want to be treated equally, as they should, why would you willingly draw a line between yourself and others? If anyone thinks that they way they speak is so far beneath the way I do that it necessitates a conscious change, why speak that way at all? I speak to everyone I meet the same way — no one is different, no one is above or below me.

Translation: Why can’t black people be more like white people? They’re making me racist.”
You can still identify perfectly Black and speak standard English. Case and point:  President Barrack Obama. No one would take him seriously if he delivered a State of the Union address utilizing AAVE and I haven’t heard any one say he is too White.

“If anything, the widespread use of Ebonics perpetuates racism and stereotypes. It draws a line between Blacks and everyone else. “

“Translation: Black people make me feel insecure. They’re making me racist. “

I’m insecure and racist because I expect every one to reach the professional standard? That doesn’t even make sense. 

 I could never imagine going into a job interview and speaking like that; I can’t imagine what the interviewer must think constantly hearing “was” used when standard English would use “were.” It would only hurt.

Translation: I think black people are stupid. I’m racist.”
No. Black people are not stupid and are perfectly capable of using the standard English that is expected of every one in a professional environment.

hiya seanie-poo!

welp. you did it again. here, let me help you yank that foot out of your mouth.

PLENTY of folks call Barack Obama too white. lots of folks are quite to claim his white mama whenever he does something right, and remind us of his father when they feel like he’s wrong. hear it all the time. so there goes that argument. next.

the proble with no one taking him seriously if he used AAVE isn’t that it’s because AAVE doesn’t belong anywhere, it’s that the use of another language wouldn’t go over well with — you guessed it — white folks. who does the most complaining when ATMs update with new languages, or when they have to “press 1 for English”? i’ll let you think about that. see, there is still no official language here in the United States. let me repeat that.

there is still no official language here in the united states

Standardized english is considered more acceptable because a long time ago a bunch of old white guys got together and spoke and wrote shit down in English, practically obliterated many of the languages that were already spoken here, and beat the languages out of the people who came/were brought here, and now a new bunch of old white guys don’t want to give it up.

so. i’ll leave you with that one, too.

you keep bringing up this “professional environment” and “professional standard”

let’s think about who represents corporate america in most folks’ minds, and why. seriously, think about that. and i can’t help but remember that in your initial post, seanie-poo, you also mentioned the code-switching that Black Americans do.

why do you care how we speak amongst ourselves? unless that makes you uncomfortable in some way. unless it’s hard for you to understand. 

since when is being bilingual a bad thing? when we speak standardized English to you, we’re trying to help you out, bro. we know you don’t get it, and we know you probably never will. that’s okay, most folks only learned one language in school well enough to speak it fluently. 

but here is what you said that left the very clear and obvious impression that you have nothing but disdain for Black folks who speak AAVE:

— If anyone thinks that they way they speak is so far beneath the way I do that it necessitates a conscious change, why speak that way at all?

sweetie, we don’t think it’s beneath standard English at all, any more than speaking Mandarin, or speaking Spanish is beneath speaking English. it’s just that we know you don’t understand. we’re trying to be nice, okay? or else we don’t feel comfortable enough with you to speak our own language around you. and hell, we need our jobs, so for most of us, we do what we need to in order to keep them.

you also said:

— it gives the impression of immaturity and, frankly, stupidity.

tell me, if you don’t think Black folks (and hey, it’s AAVE, so pretty much Black folks, okay?) are stupid, why would you think that the language/dialect gives the impression of stupidity? what kind of disconnect is happening here?

— I could never imagine going into a job interview and speaking like that

i shouldn’t have to explain this one, but i will. the level of condescension here is over 9-fucking-thousand, okay? “speaking like that” — the fuck are you saying? i mean, what you basically said, and please don’t try to rephrase in some way that makes you look less like an asshole, because it will only make you look like more of an asshole, was:

there’s no way i could speak that way and align myself with those stupid and foolish people. it’s unthinkable! i don’t know why they do it. obviously they don’t have to be or sound so stupid, so why? i don’t understand them when they talk to each other, even though i’m not part of the conversation. gosh, why can’t they be more white?

i know, i know, those weren’t your written words, but that was the clear sentiment that you left here, seanie-poo. i’ma need you to think a bit more critically before you respond again.

(via deliciouskaek)


Sign language that African Americans use is different from that of whites



Sign language that African Americans use is different from that of whites

By Published: September 17

Carolyn McCaskill remembers exactly when she discovered that she couldn’t understand white people. It was 1968, she was 15 years old, and she and nine other deaf black students had just enrolled in an integrated school for the deaf in Talledega, Ala.

When the teacher got up to address the class, McCaskill was lost.

“I was dumbfounded,” McCaskill recalls through an interpreter. “I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ ”

The teacher’s quicksilver hand movements looked little like the sign language McCaskill had grown up using at home with her two deaf siblings and had practiced at the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind, just a few miles away. It wasn’t a simple matter of people at the new school using unfamiliar vocabularly; they made hand movements for everyday words that looked foreign to McCaskill and her fellow black students.

So, McCaskill says, “I put my signs aside.” She learned entirely new signs for such common nouns as “shoe” and “school.” She began to communicate words such as “why” and “don’t know” with one hand instead of two as she and her black friends had always done. She copied the white students who lowered their hands to make the signs for “what for” and “know” closer to their chins than to their foreheads. And she imitated the way white students mouthed words at the same time as they made manual signs for them.

Whenever she went home, McCaskill carefully switched back to her old way of communicating.

What intrigues McCaskill and other experts in deaf culture today is the degree to which distinct signing systems — one for whites and another for blacks — evolved and continue to coexist, even at Gallaudet University, where black and white students study and socialize together and where McCaskill is now a professor of deaf studies.

Five years ago, with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, McCaskill and three fellow researchers began to investigate the distinctive structure and grammar of Black American Sign Language, or Black ASL, in much the way that linguists have studied spoken African American English (known by linguists as AAE or, more popularly, as Ebonics). Their study, which assembled and analyzed data from filmed conversations and interviews with 96 subjects in six states, is the first formal attempt to describe Black ASL and resulted in the publication last year of “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL.” What the researchers have found is a rich signing system that reflects both a history of segregation and the ongoing influence of spoken black English.

The book and its accompanying DVD emphasize that Black ASL is not just a slang form of signing. Instead, think of the two signing systems as comparable to American and British English: similar but with differences that follow regular patterns and a lot of variation in individual usage. In fact, says Ceil Lucas, one of McCaskill’s co-authors and a professor of linguistics at Gallaudet, Black ASL could be considered the purer of the two forms, closer in some ways to the system that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet promulgated when he founded the first U.S. school for the deaf — known at the time as the American Asylum for Deaf Mutes — in Hartford, Conn., in 1817.

Mercedes Hunter, a hearing African American student in the department of interpretation at Gallaudet, describes the signing she and her fellow students use as a form of self-expression. “We include our culture in our signing,” says Hunter, who was a reseach assistant for the project, “our own unique flavor.”

“We make our signs bigger, with more body language” she adds, alluding to what the researchers refer to as Black ASL’s larger “signing space.”

No universal language

When she tries to explain how Black ASL fits into the world of deaf communication, Lucas sets out by dispelling a common misconception about signing.

Many people think sign language is a single, universal language, which would mean that deaf people anywhere in the world could communicate freely with one another.

Another widely held but erroneous belief is that sign languages are direct visual translations of spoken languages, which would mean that American signers could communicate fairly freely with British or Australian ones but would have a hard time understanding an Argentinian or Armenian’s signs.

Neither is true, explains J. Archer Miller, a Baltimore-based lawyer who specializes in disability rights and has many deaf clients. There are numerous signing systems, and American Sign Language is based on the French system that Gallaudet and his teacher, Laurent Clerc, imported to America in the early 19th century.

“I find it easier to understand a French signer” than a British or Australian one, Miller says, “because of the shared history of the American and French systems.”

In fact, experts say, ASL is about 60 percent the same as French, and unintelligible to users of British sign language.

Within signing systems, just as within spoken languages, there are cultural and regional variants, and Miller explains that he can sometimes be stumped by a user’s idiosyncracies. He remembers in Philadelphia coming across an unfamiliar sign for “hospital” (usually depicted by making a cross on the shoulder, but in this case with a sign in front of the signer’s forehead).

What’s more, Miller says, signing changes over time: The sign for “telephone,” for example, is commonly made by spreading your thumb and pinkie and holding them up to your ear and mouth. An older sign was to put one fist to your ear and the other in front of your mouth to look like an old-fashioned candlestick phone.

So it’s hardly surprising, Miller says, that Americans’ segregated pasts led to the development of different signing traditions — and that contemporary cultural differences continue to influence the signing that black and white Americans use.

Some differences result from a familiar history of privation in black education. Schools for black deaf children — the first of them opened some 50 years after the Hartford school was founded, and most resisted integration until well after the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954— tended to have fewer resources. Students were encouraged to focus on vocational careers — repairing shoes or working in laundries — rather than pursuing academic subjects, Lucas says, and some teachers had poor signing skills.

But a late-19th-century development in the theory of how to teach deaf children led, ironically, to black students’ having a more consistent education in signing. The so-called oralism movement, based on the now controversial notion that spoken language is inherently superior to sign language, placed emphasis on teaching deaf children how to lip-read and speak.

Driven by the slogan “the gesture kills the word,” the oralism theory was put into practice in the United States predominantly in white schools. Black students, Lucas says, were left to manage with their purely manual form of communication.

Ultimately rejected by people who felt it prevented deaf people from developing their “natural,” manual language, oralism fell out of favor in the 1970s and ’80s, but white signers continued to mouth words. That was one of the key differences McCaskill noted when she joined the integrated Alabama School for the Deaf. And the distinction is still evident today, Lucas says, among older signers.

The challenges of interpretation

Regional and cultural differences in signing are a constant challenge for interpreters, according to Candas Barnes, a professional interpreter based at Gallaudet, who describes the role as a “continual decision-making process.”

Sometimes a black public figure might shift into African American English and back, as Oprah sometimes does, to make a rhetorical point. The interpreter, Barnes says, may or may not switch into Black ASL, “depending on who the audience is.” A primarily white audience may not understand Black ASL, she points out.

And there’s no guarantee that every black member of an audience would understand, Barnes says. But she says interpreters for the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual legislative conference “are more inclined to follow along” because the audience would most likely be African American.

Miller, the disability rights lawyer, sometimes finds it a challenge “to find the appropriate interpreter for a particular person.” Interpreters, he says, “need to be able to communicate certain expressions and make sure they don’t mistake one sign for another and inadvertently completely change the meaning of the deaf person’s statement.”

The kinds of confusion that can come up, says Lucas, include the sign for “bad,” which can mean “really good” in Black ASL — an example of a usage that migrated from spoken black English. Similarly, in Black ASL, the sign for “word” can mean “That’s the truth!” — though Lucas says white signers wouldn’t use it in that way.

And Mary Henry Lightfoot, a former board member of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters who works at Gallaudet, says that features associated with Black ASL, such as its larger signing space and “facial grammar,” sometimes cause interpreters to misunderstand the message. “If you’re not used to that as part of the language, you can misinterpret,” she says.

“I’ve heard African American signers say, ‘Don’t make assumptions about what I’m saying based on what I look like.’ ”

‘Signing like the white students’

There’s little evidence of Black ASL in the Gallaudet University classroom when McCaskill leads a diverse group of about 20 students in a discussion of “The Dynamics of Oppression,” a course that examines oppression across different cultures and explores parallels in the deaf community. In the classroom, just as in a professional setting, Lucas says, students and teachers generally employ a formal, academic norm, much as would be the case with spoken English.

But as students break into smaller discussion groups, their signing becomes more colloquial. They refer to regional differences in signing and occasionally stop to discuss a sign that is unfamiliar to one of them.

And when a smaller group of black students meets to describe and demonstrate the distinctive flavor of Black ASL, they refer emotionally to their attachment to their own brand of signing and how it reflects their identities as African American members of the deaf community.

“It shows our personality,” says Dominique Flagg, through an interpreter.

“Our signing is louder, more expressive,” explains Teraca Florence, a former president of the Black Deaf Student Union at the university, where 8 percent of the student body is African American. “It’s almost poetic.”

Proud as they are of its distinctive rhythm and style, Flagg and the other students say they worry about assumptions others make about their signing. “People sometimes think I am mad or have an attitude when I am just chatting with my friends, professors and other people,” Flagg says.

Others express concern that Black ASL is sometimes seen as less correct or even stereotyped as street language, echoing a sentiment expressed by some African American signers interviewed for the book who describe the ASL used by white people as “cleaner” and “superior.”

It’s a familiar feeling for McCaskill, who remembers how she had to learn to fit in with the white kids at her integrated school all those years ago.

“I would pick up their signs,” McCaskill says.

And when she went home, she remembers, “friends and family would say, ‘Wait a minute, you’re signing like the white students. You think you’re smart. You think you’re better than us.’ ”

© The Washington Post Company

Goddamn, this is interesting. 

(via andikilledelevenofthem)


Exotic Whites, Poverty, and Kool Aid


While visting a quaint exotic, white neighborhood, I went to visit the family of an exotic, white woman.  The conditions she and her family lives in are tragic and heart breaking.   While making Kool Aid for her children, she has to actually read and follow the directions on the back of the packet, and pour in the proper amount of sugar as directed.  Just to make sugar last obviously!  The family eats a meal every day without any seasonings or spices whatsoever.  This poor woman has to boil,broil, and steam absolutely every ounce of flavor out of the meat and vegetables.  This flavor deprivation is how most poor, exotic, white families keep from becoming too used to seasonings that were too hard to come by in exotic white’s poor countries of origin.   

But just think; for just pennies a day with your help, poor exotic, white women, and the families they make homes for; might never have to go without food seasoning, or flavoring every again.  Never again will a little Skyler not be able to distinguish the taste between his chicken, string beans, or his potatoes.  Never again will little Megyn squint as she tries to get down that half bitter glass of only half sweetened Kool Aid.  Plus you’ll have given the satisfaction to an exotic, white wife and mother of finally being complimented on her cooking.  Your monthly donations can make a difference in this exotic, white woman’s life.  So please donate now! 

Plus you’ll receive a letter and a photo each month, where you can see the difference your help makes at an exotic, white woman’s dinner table.  Plus you’ll get a chance to trade recipes, and expose this family to a world of normal people cuisine they never knew possible; but only if you pick up the phone and pledge a small monthly donation.  Please make a difference and change an exotic, white woman’s family’s palate forever!



Over the weekend I engaged in a cross cultural exchange with a real live exotic white girl! OMG, it was so much fun! We ate, we drank, and after a while I tried to teach her and some of her friends about dancing to the beat of the music. I wasn’t successful, but then she showed me one of the dances of her people! It’s not really my style (no rhythm required!), but she was so happy to share it with me. And she was so cute! I really enjoyed seeing her in her natural element, although I’m not quite sure why they have to mimic everyday tasks in dance. Perhaps it helps them to remember the steps for things like preparing food? If you want to learn more about her culture, she can be found on Twitter (can you believe they’re on there too?!) under the name @emilytheslayer. She is so good natured and just a joy to be around. Her presence is almost magical!

I saw this live & it is still amazing.


Honor Killings in White Culture (TW: Mention of domestic violence)


White men are known for being especially violent.

“Honor killings,” called more innocuosly “domestic violence” (DV) in North American White culture, are the result of white, sexist, and religious culture. Men are shamed for behaving like women, as their God demands that women are lesser and subservient to men. Many DV murders are triggered when a white man feels that his female companion has disgraced him in some way: by talking back, by talking or texting to a man that is not a family member, not properly acknowleding their White God, or dressing in a way the white male disagrees with. This often results in emotional trauma, physical injury, or death for the white woman.

This is my plea to you. We must stop this. White culture is so backward and so out of touch. Their religion has brainwashed the masses. You never hear “moderate whites” speak out about DV, so it can only be assumed that their culture as a whole condones it. Who will save the white women?

Here’s what we must do: we must promote normal culture. Normal culture, as you probably know, is much better than white culture. Our women can walk freely, dress as they wish, and are completely respected by their male partners. Why shouldn’t white culture aspire to this? It is a fact that white women throughout the globe spend everyday unloved and oppressed by their men and culture.

Join me, normal brothers and sisters. Let it be known that this.can.not.stand. With our efforts, white women and men will see the error of their ways and once shown a superior model of living will ditch their beliefs that were sown in childhood. White people and their “allies” will try to convince you that their ways need to be framed in a “cultural context” and may cite the historical interference of normal culture on their society. They might even insist that fringe elements have violated the true path most of them follow. Ignore them. They do not know what they are talking about. After all, no one needs to examine normal culture critically, so their experiences are not valid. Ours is the way.

So here is what you do: stop white women in the street and inform them of normal ways of life. Be sure to refer to them in white terms like “honey” and “sweety.” Let the white men know that they are disgusting abberations who perpetuate their culture at every turn and hate their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters (they are probably actively abusing them for their God’s pleasure anyway, do not fear confrontation.) Finally, be sure to comment on articles about white cultures and insist the truth for everyone to read: you do not agree with white people, you are a forthright, honest, progressive normal man/woman who can tolerate an unprotected orgy but will not stand for white people existing as they do. Insist that white people can not make choices for themselves without the divine light of your normal guidance. Some will accuse you of being ignorant. Ignore them. You are normal and will call things as you see them because you.are.right.

It is my ernest hope that our combined self-satisfaction will radiate across the internet, across the planet, and teach thos backward white people how to live like humans.


Their skin is so delicate!


I went out today with a young white couple so that I could show them that neighborhoods full of brown and black people can be safe for them too. I wanted to give them something to aspire to in their own homes you know? Any way, it was a hot day and I noticed after a while that they were actually scuttling away from the merest hint of the sun. I tried to explain that shade is the same on both sides of the street and that’s when they confessed that even though they were wearing long sleeves and sunblock, their doctors have warned them that sun can still hurt them. Can you imagine? It must be so hard having to live that way! They’re just so fragile, it’s a wonder they manage to stay alive. Their exotic skin color is even more striking now that I see how easily t can limit their freedom.


American Suburb: A Study in Blanc


The lush landscape of America hides a secret. When the bright lights, bounty, and sin of the city give way, you’ll find that America has an unexpected underbelly. In the suburbs, white people make as little as 100,000 USD a year. They often go without, having to make their own espressos in their homes, rather than making the daily trek to a local Starbucks. Children are often seen playing in the streets, if only to get a few hours of respite from the hardship, such as missing an annual trip to Disney World. The failing economy has hit hard here.

 Those we spoke to said that they lived in fear of their Housing Association, a series of American groups that bully the residents who live in their territory and must pay fees to.

“If I can’t put three inflatable Santas in my yard at Christmas (ed: a Christian Festival) than what am I supposed to do?” said Bentley Adams, who agreed to speak with us at a nearby frozen yogurt shop, “Nothing. I can only pay my dues and hope that they do not come to evict us, to sue us. My portfolio can’t take another blow this year.”

Of all the people we spoke to about the living conditions, the schools, and the government’s policies, the person who stood out the most was Ashley Smith-Green. She had been watching us as we’d conducted interviews all over the neighborhood. When we approached her, she smiled shyly and looked away. Her white skin and sparkling blue eyes could be considered beautiful. In America, especially in the more conservative neighborhoods, women are discouraged from talking to men. White women are often cloistered in their homes, doing laundry and watching reruns of Friends, a popular TV program here which has been blamed for giving the normally docile white women unclean ideas about living in the big city in perpetual young adulthood. Ashley’s courage in speaking with us is astounding. We talk together awhile, sitting at traditional picnic table which are made out of wood and tough on one’s derier, but Ashley has been sitting at picnic tables her whole life, she perches herself with grace and an ease that is unsettling. Ashley tells us she wants to go to school and have a career. But what about marriage? She’d like to be married someday, but Ashley says she will not start a family in the suburbs. Instead, she says with conviction, she wants to live in the city. I question her as to whether she’s ready for such a step, having been raised in the suburbs her whole life. Her naivete shows through and she falters. She grows quiet, her blonde hair falling past her eyes.

We leave shortly after that. Before we go, we snap the above photo. Ashley stands beautiful, in star contrast to the harsh world she has been raised in. I don’t know what the future holds for Ashley. Though the city holds numerous economic opportunities, it is doubtful that girls like Ashley will survive long in the hustle of the seductive city. I can only hope that Ashley finds a way out, whether through marriage or miracle.

I can’t breeeeve….OMG

(via moniquill)




This exotic white girl has the gift of channeling all of the trials and tribulations plaguing white girls into song. She is truly a credit to her race. 
Mod note: picture courtesy of lionheartedgrrrl. 

omg her savage beauty

she is such a credit to her race the local radio station is playing her song of her people every hour on the hour today.




This exotic white girl has the gift of channeling all of the trials and tribulations plaguing white girls into song. She is truly a credit to her race. 

Mod note: picture courtesy of lionheartedgrrrl. 

omg her savage beauty

she is such a credit to her race the local radio station is playing her song of her people every hour on the hour today.

[TW Racism, Fat Shaming] I present to you: white-brite




Reminding us how awesome and inclusive the feminist community can be.

For those of you who don’t know, white-brite is an individual who recently ‘renounced her race’ and created a (grossly false) privilege hierarchy, as seen below:

Additionally, her blog is filled with page after page of her denying her own privilege, and then demanding that people ‘educate themselves’.

So let’s go through this again.

  1. You cannot renounce your race. You and I, as white (passing) people have white privilege, and that privilege is enduring. Every time you deny or ‘renounce’ that privilege, you are contributing to white supremacy, and the oppression of people of color.
  2. As an admittedly white, cis, heterosexual woman, you have (aside from white cis men and possibly white trans* men) the most privilege. You are not ‘low on the totem pole’ (which, congrats on the appropriative use of that term).
  3. You are the reason feminism is flawed. You are the reason that so many people cannot identify with the movement. By refusing to see how intersectionality actually works, you are actively enabling oppressive structures. You are excluding people, especially WoC, from your movement. You are doing more harm than good (and, quite frankly, I haven’t seen you contribute positively to anything).

I suppose that all of your faux-feminism must be exhausting, especially if you are resorting to the dismissal of valid arguments with (laughably ineffective) insults.

You are not helping anyone. You are actively contributing to the oppression of marginalized groups (among them, PoC and trans* individuals). You are actively making feminism less inclusive.


oh my god her hierarchy

I want to laugh, but this is such a clear representation of THE PROBLEM.

how the fuck can ANYONE believe someone who is Black, trans*, AND gay has more privilege than a white cis straight girl

How can this be what feminism is about


someone failed you, kid. And in turn, you’re failing everyone. 

(via deliciouskaek)

unorganized thoughts on the term “afro-iranian”




i’ve been seeing it on my dashboard a lot.

i’m not comfortable using this term to describe iranians of “afro-” descent and i’d like to explain why (whoweretheqajars pointed out to me that it can’t not be used in academia because of how academia works, and that’s fine. i’m talking about blog posts and discussions and how we see the world in general). these are just some thoughts. if anyone wants to engage in a discussion about it or something related (iranian- or not) please message me. that’s what i’m posting it for. i did my best to translate all the farsi i use to english so non-farsi speakers don’t get confused.

also i apologize in advance if this sounds angry or belittling to anyone who has used or does use the word. i’ve used the word too, i’m not angry (even if my writing sounds that way sometimes) and i don’t mean to criticize anyone.

i’m uncomfortable using the term afro-iranian because we don’t refer to other groups as “sino-iranian”, “indo-iranian”, “cauco-iranian”, etc. also “iranian” is a national identity that some ethnic groups choose to ignore when describing themselves. most kord people will tell you they are “kord” or “kord-e (insert kurdish nameplace here).

plus i’m not going to label someone as “afro-iranian” unless they label themselves that way. some seemingly “afro-iranian”s are farsizaban (farsi speaking) and refer to themselves as “irani” or “irooni”. i’m not going to stick the word “afro-” in front of that just because they are “african” looking. if they are irani they are irani, and maybe the rest of us have female ancestors who had non-irani hamsaye (neighbors) and are the ones who need to add a race-identifying prefix to our national identification. in which case all light-skinned iranians with nosejobs should be known as “euro-iranians”. my point being there are alternative ways of understanding and perceiving the diversity of “looks” in iran, and maybe we should pick one that is more threatening to the white cis hetero-patriarchal world order.

my guess is that people from communities like “zangiabad” or “dehzangi”, probably refer to themselves as “zangi” or “zanji”. this word btw, does not mean “coon” or the n-word even though its listed as such on some online english-language dictionaries. zangi comes from zangibar, the parsi or arab-cization of zanzibar (in east africa).CORRECTION:

BTW, the word zanzibar/zangibar is actually Persian in origin.


a friend who recently visited from iran told me that in iran’s academia dark-skinned people who live in the south are referred to as “adam-ha ye boomi-e jonoob” (indigenous peoples of the south) or “jonoobi” along with everyone else who lives in southern iran. peoples of the south are further divided into classifications based on the language they speak (i.e. arabi, balochi, pashto, dari, farsizaban, etc.) and the province they live in (i.e. khuzestani, hormozgani, sistani).

in farsi the word used to described “dark” skin is “siah-soukhte” (black burned) or “siah” (black) regardless of ethnicity and should not be confused with the english or american meaning of “black”. “tanned” is siah-soukhte, even if you are a white amerikkkan cracka. “brown” and “black” are both siah. again this is regardless of ethnicity so if you are african-american but really light skinned you are called “sefid” (white). if you are that crazy tan-addict from new jersey you are called “siah”. anything that is not white bread white is “siah” or “siah soukhte”. there’s also “sabzeh” (green) but it mostly refers to people with olive undertones.

the words used for the amerikkkan meanings of “black” and “white” are “sefidpoost” (whiteskin), and “siahpoost” (blackskin). these are imports from amerikkka because of the film industry. my guess is that it started with “redskin” being translated as “sorkhpoost” in the subtitles or dubbing of amerikkkan westerns (which were really popular in iran in the 1960s). up until recently people only referred to african-americans as “siahpoost” but that has started to change and they refer to black african peoples and diaspora peoples that way as well. i blame a lot of the current racism amongst iranians on amerikkkan and euro-peon film and television media that people watch (illegally) via satellite. 

people who live along the coast are called “bandari” sometimes, “bandar” meaning port, because they are a mix of all the different people who go through the persian gulf for trade or work. this is usually used in reference to the culture though, not the people themselves.

one reason the term “afro-iranian” makes no sense to me is that there has been cultural exchange between the middle east and africa for thousands of years. people have been migrating back and forth between these two landmasses this whole time but since it hasn’t caught the attention of europe, we don’t hear about it in the west*. all we hear about is the “arab slave trade” which, in combination with the myth about africa being an undeveloped, uncivilized landmass of primitive jungle people, gives the impression that all peoples of “african” descent living in the middle east are descended from slaves.

some iranians are descended from slaves kidnapped from somewhere in africa, others are descended from sailors originally from somewhere in africa, and there are also iranians whose genetics suggest that their ancestors migrated from north or east africa at some point in the past, and have since assimilated as farsizaban or some other ethnic group. “afro-” doesn’t make sense because a lot of people in iran have ancestry that originated somewhere in africa even if they don’t look “african”**. this is not privileged information but it gets ignored because of western mythologizing. if you want to know someone’s history ask them. if you want to know how they identify, then ask them. as annoying it is when people ask me “what are you?” i would rather you do that than apply a label according to what you assume i am.

in the 1930s anthropologists from the university of chicago did a study on the peoples of iran, and from measuring our facial features etc. they determined we were predominantly “negroid”s with some “mongoloid”s and some dark-skinned “atlanto-mediterranean types”. now we are considered “white” on the u.s. census? i have to wonder if some of this talk about race in iran isn’t somehow politically motivated. demonstrate that “iranian” is not “black” so that it can be white.

this worries me because i think about how other light-skinned minorities have been assimilated into whiteness, contributed to anti-black racism passive-aggresively (by not resisting the white identity assigned to them) as well as perpetrated violence onto blacks and other non-white minority groups in the name of white supremacy (like the irish in the early days of california). we should be working against whiteness with black americans because if we don’t it’ll end up hurting us in the long run.

and african-americans, by using the word afro-iranian to describe any iranian who looks “african” regardless of how they actually identify, end up claiming some of us and leaving the rest of us searching for an amerikkkan culture to identify with. you have names like us (darius, jafara, zahara, malik, etc.), you rap like us, a lot of you look like us, we’re honestly not that different and it sucks that there seems to be more rabateh (interaction) between iranian-americans and white people than iranian-americans and african-americans.

anyways as whoweretheqajars explained to me, since its the accepted term in academia, it has to be used when writing academic papers and that’s fine. i don’t even really have beef with people in general who want to use “afro-iranian” because i am not sure how i feel about it. i don’t mean to criticize anyone for using it. i do think in general its a good rule to just ask someone what to call them instead of making up a name for them that may or may not be on-the-mark.


*western academia has constructed this idea of the “indo-european” using linguistic similarities that are most likely a result of trade through the silk road, and a result of europe being conquered by north african and middle eastern empires over and over and over again, and not a result of the “aryan” race migrating to europe as they would like to believe. from my own research cultures and languages of iran have more in common with cultures and languages of africa and asia than with cultures and languages of europe.

**about us not “looking african”: let’s not forget that in the 19th and 20th centuries iran was occupied by white people. the only reason it wasn’t a colony was because england and russia both wanted it, and neither dared to claim it for fear of the other declaring war. during world war i and ii several major cities in iran were occupied by both allied and axis forces. seeing as how white people sexually assaulted womyn everywhere else and used politics and myths to cover it up, i am not surprised that there are so many light-skinned iranians with europeon features.

Bolded parts, then realized I bolded a whole lot.

I <3 you.

reblogging for thoughts.

i honestly dont know any body african american who uses the term “afro-iranian,” at all. but i can think of some folks who would, and why.

however i think there’s a little conflation here of popularity of middle eastern and arab culture(s) within some of black communities with actual acceptance throughout the whole, because, um, no.

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