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My Dad's Iranian Passport -- creative nonficiton by August Smits

There was never one interaction, one moment, where I found it blatantly clear to me that the bitter people at the ominous security desks were being racist. It was a pattern of interactions that slowly arose and became consistently more obvious to me as I was older. I can distinctly remember the stout man sitting behind his podium of power, his beady eyes narrowly observing, comparing and contrasting my dad’s tanned complexion and dark brown eyes to my pale skin and light eyes that stared up at him in question. The skeptical security clerks never said anything that would immediately label them as racist. It was their cynical stares, their subtle actions, their condescending responses that were filled with distrust and suspicion that my dad recognized, but I did not. To be fair, as a five-year-old I was likely more concerned with putting my heavy backpack down and exploring the bright maze of shops, than what my dad was doing arguing with the kind lady in uniform. I was too young to realize that the lady in blue was not so kind. As I got older I began to question more frequently why my dad kept being pulled aside for questioning while my siblings and I waited patiently, once again, for it to be over. I remember I once asked him about it and he told me, as if to explain the constant tension and anger, that it was a random security check. It never felt very random. This pattern of constantly waiting for my dad’s random security screenings is what led me to realize that they were in fact never very random. The interviews and bag searches and hand swabs were because of my dad’s Iranian passport. There were consequences to carrying identification with writing on it that looked suspiciously similar to Arabic. There were consequences to my dad’s slightly darker skin.


August Smits is a high school sophomore living in Massachusetts. In her free time, she enjoys reading dystopian fiction, listening to music, all things design related, and daydreaming. August hopes to one day travel the world and earn a degree in one of her many interests.

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