Sunday, January 16

“Every single day I am told that I am not Norwegian”

  • Orchid Farzehsaeid (14)

Every day I am told that I am not Norwegian, even though I was born in Norway, writes Orkidee Farzehsaeid (14).

You can make it easier for me and many others to feel at home in our home country.

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I’m Norwegian, I think.

I am a 14-year-old girl who was born in Bærum, grew up on the East Coast and lived in Norway all my life. In 1992, my father came to Norway from Iran, my mother came in 1995.

Since I was little, people have asked me where I come from. Which is understandable, since I do not have the Nordic look. Of course, my friends from Stavanger and Trondheim get the same question.

And when someone meets my friends and notices that they do not have an Eastern Norway dialect, they also ask them where they come from. But when my friends answer a city or a place in Norway, it’s okay. That’s not the case with me. When I answer that I am from Bærum, everything becomes quiet.

People who wonder where I come from usually look at me with what feels like a pretty judgmental look, and say, “No, no, where are you? really from?” By pressing the word «actually». Many people have said this to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard it.

What does it mean to be Norwegian?

When I was younger, I did not think much about it. I did not think about the fact that I, a Norwegian-born 6-year-old, was never considered Norwegian by others. But then the question is, what does it mean to be Norwegian?

On my passport it says that I am Norwegian. But if you take a DNA sample from me, it’s going to say I’m Iranian. At the same time, I feel Norwegian. I’ve lived here my whole life. I have also never, not once, traveled to Iran.

Still, I always have to tell people I have just met about my whole upbringing for them to understand that I am Norwegian. I really should not have to do that.

If you want to know why I have dark brown hair or dark brown eyes, or why I have “yellow” skin, ask me what my ethnicity is. I am proud to say that I have roots from Iran! So if you ask, I will be happy to tell you about my ethnicity and background.

Better questions, less everyday racism

Personally, I think the problem is that many do not yet know that one’s ethnicity is not necessarily the place the individual comes from.

Every single day, I and many other Norwegian-born with immigrant parents are exposed to everyday racism. Therefore, I think it is better to ask a person what their ethnicity is, than to ask the person where they come from.

If you really ask me where I personally think I come from, I do not want you to be surprised when I answer Norway. Just like you will not be surprised when someone with a Nordic appearance tells you that he is from Stavanger because he has a Stavanger dialect.

I’m tired of explaining to strangers that I was born in Norway with parents from abroad. It is unfair that I have to defend that I am Norwegian because I look different, even though I have a Norwegian passport and have lived here all my life. I identify as Norwegian, is not that enough?

Therefore, ask me what my ethnicity is, not where I come from. Makes it easier for me and many others to feel at home in our home country.

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