Professor Karim: Iranian American Community Thrives Despite Trauma of Revolution

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL -- The generation of Iranians who immigrated to the United States in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution faced backlash from what was happening back in Iran.

In November of that year, Iranian students took a group of Americans at the U.S. embassy hostage. This sparked a crisis between the two countries that lasted for 444 days. Anti-Iranian sentiment was high.

“People that were close to me were threatened with violence because of the hostage crisis,” says Persis Karim of San Francisco State University. “My own father didn’t tell people he was Iranian. He said he was Greek to avoid any association.”

Karim says despite all the trauma that Iranians endured, many have gone on to flourish in this country. In Silicon Valley, for example, Iranian Americans hold top posts at companies such as Uber, eBay, Airbnb and Google.

“There are scientists, engineers, but there are also artists and filmmakers and poets,” Karim says.