7 episodes

Leaning heavily on personal experiences and groundbreaking research by Neda Magbouleh, your host, David Shams tries to weave a narrative of why it's not easy for halfies/Iranian-Americans to describe where or how they fit in to American society. In each episode, he interviews a different halfie in an effort to break down that complexity. Or at times, add to it.

White Adjacent Bourbon and Chai Media

    • Personal Journals
    • 5.0, 8 Ratings

Leaning heavily on personal experiences and groundbreaking research by Neda Magbouleh, your host, David Shams tries to weave a narrative of why it's not easy for halfies/Iranian-Americans to describe where or how they fit in to American society. In each episode, he interviews a different halfie in an effort to break down that complexity. Or at times, add to it.

    Dan Tavana--Being White means you don't often face exclusionary rituals

    Dan Tavana--Being White means you don't often face exclusionary rituals

    As this project was underway, I found out that Dan was moving back to DC. He’d wrapped up the non-dissertation portion of his PhD at Princeton and was looking for a more conducive environment to finish his treatise on elections in the Middle East. 
    And thinking back to our very first interaction when I was forced to reevaluate my own assumptions about how we halfies pick-up language I thought Dan would be a perfect fit. Dan has done quite a bit more meditating on these issues and maybe owing to his many years in academia he’s figured out a way to better organize his thoughts. He has the benefit, maybe, of being forced to question assumptions and his own personal biases. That is the nature of higher education, I suppose. 
    Dan brought with him a strong desire to understand context. To fit our experience as Iranian-Americans, White Adjacents, halfies into the greater context of America. And like all the other’s he took some very key feelings I’ve had for a while and actually put words to them. 
     

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Grace Maral Burnett--My first bilingual experience was English and Azerbaijani Turkish.

    Grace Maral Burnett--My first bilingual experience was English and Azerbaijani Turkish.

    I met Grace...ahem...Maral the first summer after I moved to DC. We realized we had a unique connection. Like my father, her mom immigrated here from Iran. And her dad’s family, well part of them have roots back in Kentucky, just like my mom’s family. 
    We’ve stayed in touch over the years, playing on the same Saturday morning soccer team, and keeping in contact even when she moved to Istanbul. Now that she’s back in the DC area, and leaning on that friendship, I reached out to Maral earlier this spring to gauge her interest in jumping on the podcast. 
    One of the main reasons I wanted Maral to join this project was because she’s Azerbaijani. And all the others are Persian. I wanted to jump into how that affected her growing up. Because I knew there were some very real tensions that existed between Persians and Azerbaijanis.

    • 54 min
    Shirin Wertime--My Dad is an Iranian by marriage

    Shirin Wertime--My Dad is an Iranian by marriage

    I first ran into Shirin in early August 2019. She attended a community based social hour I had planned. 
    If I’m honest, I made the same mistake that so many other Iranians make when they first meet her. There is an assumption, based only on her appearance that she’s not Iranian. 
    During our very brief interaction, I knew that Shirin would be perfect for this series. 
     

    • 52 min
    Suzy Ziaii--My family was a petri dish

    Suzy Ziaii--My family was a petri dish

    I remember when I first met Suzy. We had gathered for a volunteer training with the National Iranian American Council. If I’m honest, I don’t remember exactly what the training entailed, but I do remember walking away with a deep sense of connection, unity really after I was paired up with Suzy for a training exercise. 
    We both embraced our Iranianness with open arms, but because our Persian skills weren’t that great we were apprehensive to get involved with the Iranian-American community. Our conversation focused on the idea that we felt this void, an empty space really, where our Iranianness was supposed to be. This was primarily due to the dearth of actual experiences with our Iranian side. We both grew up in isolation from our respective Iranian families--mine mostly in California, hers still in Iran, stuck on the other side of the world unable to come because of the heavy-handed immigration policies enacted since the revolution. 
    When I started thinking about this project, she was one of the first people I reached out to.

    • 55 min
    Jamal Abdi--It's more than a novelty

    Jamal Abdi--It's more than a novelty

    I’ve know Jamal basically since I moved to DC. He was my boss when I interned at the National Iranian American Council. We played soccer together in a few Saturday morning leagues and spent one-afternoon several years ago playing pickup basketball.
    That said we never delved into his childhood. Nor did I know much about his dreams for his son’s Iranianness to be more than just a novelty. I had assumed that he, like myself, had developed an overbearing condition that’s commonly known as imposter syndrome when he steps into spaces filled with Iranians. And that the genesis of it came, in part, from not having a full grasp of the language. 
    As the head of the National Iranian American Council, being mixed-race Iranian-American, and a father, I knew Jamal would bring a unique perspective to the conversation. 
     

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Sarah Oliai--Gormeh Sabzi and Duckhunter

    Sarah Oliai--Gormeh Sabzi and Duckhunter

    Sarah and I have had these sorts of conversations almost since we first met. And out of any of the other Iranian-Americans I’ve interviewed, we have the most in common. We both come from spaces with little to no exposure to the Iranian-American community and the surrounding space is often more conservative and less tolerant of our bicultural lives. 
    There are times when explaining certain feelings or emotions about a particular issue that likely exclusive to the ‘white adjacent life’ that I’ll see blank stares from my friends. But then there’s Sarah, nodding, ready to chime in to expand on what it is that I’ve said. 
    If I'm honest, her no-nonsense approach to discussing really difficult topics is refreshing. So, when I started thinking about this project, I felt it would be a disservice if I didn’t get Sarah on board. 

    • 52 min

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