Growing Up Neem-Rooni- An Interview with Tehran von Ghasri

Leyla Shams
June 15, 2020

Tehran Von Ghasri is a half African American, half Iranian comedian who reads and speaks Farsi fluently. Originally, I wanted to interview Tehran to ask him about being raised in a half Iranian family and how his father managed to keep him interested in the Persian language and culture. However, our interview took place a couple weeks after the death of George Floyd and the reemergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and all over the world. I had a lot of questions about his unique perspective of being half black and half Iranian, and particularly about the role of Iranian Americans in this movement. I learned so much from our conversation and hope that you will too. Listen to the full podcast or read the transcript below (edited for length and clarity):


Leyla Shams: Can you tell me about your background for those of our audience who don't know you? What ethnicity are your parents? Where did they meet? Where did you grow up?

Tehran von Ghasri: Sure. I get it- what are you. I've heard the 'What are you' question my whole life. So my father is Iranian and my mother is African American. I am born and raised in Washington, DC. Now, it's very important that you understand that I was born and raised in Washington DC because Washington DC is a very interesting and unique place. It is a combination of education and streets. It's a combination of different diversities. Washington DC is the American concept come to life all in one little city. So you have a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds, all in one area. And then inside the city proper, of course, which used to be chocolate city, you also now have this battle of gentrification. So the reason I bring this up is because with all of these things, shaping me, it is no surprise I became who I became. I had no choice. I was caught up in these worlds. Not only by design, but by demographics and location. It's like nature and nurture. You need to be this bridge between worlds.

L: How did your parents meet?

T: A lot of people always assume that my father is like the Persian Martin Luther King who's just fighting for civil rights and is so progressive. But they just met in college. They were a guy and a girl who met in college, of course, the story of many Washington DC Iranian diaspora where Iranians went to Washington, DC for educational purposes, and they ended up being trapped there because of the 1979 revolution. So my father and my mother, they met in college there and they got married and had kids and their first one was me.

L: Okay, so what was your experience growing up learning Persian? I just want to put it out there, there's lots of videos of you speaking Persian, and you speak perfectly.

T: I love how you call it Persian because that's what it's called in the Western world. I do call it Farsi.

L: I love that too.

T: Oh, I'm so glad you're not annoyed by that because I actually had a very intense conversation with several people regarding this. I call it Farsi and and I'm proud of it being Farsi. I don't need to call it Persian in order to connect to this historical background that makes makes me feel better than.

L: Actually, my podcast is Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation because I'm from the University of Texas at Austin, where they really drove it into us that academically, this is Persian. If you say Farsi, it's incorrect, etc. etc. And after all these years, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, no, I don't agree at all. So I'm glad that you brought that up.

T: Well, the best part about language is that like the government is supposed to be language is democratic. We all get to decide what a word is and what it means. And if we decide that it means something different, we're all made aware of it. And I know academia has a very strong role and purpose. At times, however, they neglect the power of pop culture, and they neglect that democratic process. And so there are people that are like, no, it's Persian. And I'm like, if I say Farsi and enough of us say Farsi then it's just Farsi. It's very simple. We've seen this happen many times. We're watching it happen right now in the battle of is it African American or black? I mean, we've seen it happen. It's okay. I am so proud, which is different than having pride, by the way, I'm proud of my Iranian heritage and my culture. And I understand that Iranian does not mean the government, it means the people and it always has. And so I don't need to impress upon someone a cultural background that means greatness. I say it because it means greatness even today.

L: Well, great. I'm glad you brought that up. But then back to the original question, what was your experience growing up learning Farsi?

T: Yeah, it sucked. So here's the thing. My father originally did not teach me Farsi. He was practicing his English. He wanted to learn English and so he spoke to me in English. And then one day, he basically switched it up. My father is actually a very wonderful person. He actually created this technique, much like how you teach people Farsi, he created a technique to teach kids different behavioral patterns including Farsi and it's called sar koobi, which is basically just 'hits you in the back of the head.'  It is my way for describing his abrasive switching up of going from English to Farsi and saying, obviously English isn't working out for me. I'm going to speak Farsi and all of my children are also going to learn Farsi. And it was very important. It was something I didn't understand as a kid. Because as a kid, we don't specifically like to learn. We just want to play, which is why now when we look back, we wish we had gone and taken school more seriously. It seems so much fun now that we're adults. So, as a kid, every Saturday of mine was dedicated to learning Farsi. And every day, my father actually specifically said, If I don't respond or ask for something in Farsi, I wouldn't get what it is that I wanted.

L: How old were you when this switch happened?

T: It was around the age of five. And interestingly enough, I had already absorbed a lot of Farsi. So I actually spoke Farsi pretty decently on my own without being taught Farsi. And a lot of different factors came to play. One of the factors was music, listening to Persian music and listening to it in Farsi. And I was like, I like this. This song is so fun. I have such a good memory of it. I wanted to understand what they were saying. Second of all was watching madreseeyeh mooshha and all other Persian cartoons and kid shows, and I was interested in understanding. If you make language fun, kids will respond. Well, my father didn't realize he was making it fun. He was just doing it to teach me without without realizing it was also that there were parts that were fun. So my experience was, I wanted to understand and then my father said something to me once as a kid that I didn't understand until I grew up. He said 'dardeh delamo meekham behet begam, man beh Englisi nemeetoonam befahmoonamet.' So he basically wanted to be like, 'if I ever have to tell you what's on my heart, I can't explain it to you in English. Because I can't express it to you effectively in English for you to understand.' And that's why it was so important for him for me to learn, not only so that I could remember my cultural heritage and ancestral background, but also so that I could communicate and connect with my father on a loving intimate basis.

L: Well, why did it take him until you were five to figure that out?

T: It actually was a process of he was practicing his English so while he would speak Farsi at times, he was speaking English and he also thought that he would confuse me but the truth is children's learning is so expansive, that as a child, we are able to pick up everything and the truth about languages. It's never too late, your brain never stops developing, learning how to speak a different language. You may become insistent on a pattern, you may become consistent with a type of way of saying things, but the concept of language can happen at any time in your life. It's just about application immersion and fun.

L: So how did he do that? Do the switch without you becoming resentful?

T: Basically, it became the lack of choice, right? You see resentment in American kids because I swear American kids are giving given way more choices than us. Right?

L: Then what about when your mom was there? What would what would you all speak together?

T: So, a lot of people always ask if my mother speaks Farsi, and she doesn't, she doesn't speak Farsi, which is why they're still married. Because if she understood what he was saying, I don't know how this would work. If they understood each other. This could go wrong very quickly.

L: I mean, that's just generally about marriage. Right?

T: In seriousness, you know, a lot of people give my father a lot of credit for me being able to speak Farsi so well or just being so knowledgeable about the Iranian culture and community. The truth is, my mother was as instrumental if not more so in this process, because she encouraged it. She encouraged this behavior. She wanted me to be Iranian and black and proud of both. And so I spent a lot of time learning and being raised in different cultures and different religions that my family had. And to create this, this harmony within myself, because they wanted everything to be represented.

L: So you had your classes on Saturday, and that was like formal class.

T: Actually, formal classes were very short lived. It was really just my father giving me tutelage and actually having me do things with him. Every single Saturday, it was basically chore day. And Saturday and Sunday meant we were working in the yard, we were working on the car, we were doing something. He just liked to always be very busy. And so it's very difficult not to learn a language someone speaking to you and yelling at you and encouraging you and doing all these things when you're when you're actually participating in an activity. So that was an easier way than sitting in a classroom. I was actually working with stuff.

L: Well, then what about at the dinner table?

T: Once again, my father spoke Farsi to us. And so my father would speak would speak Farsi and we would all, especially with me, we would learn. I was broken in on the responding in Farsi role. So once again, with my younger siblings, they'll sometimes still respond in English, unless they have a real point. You know, they'll respond and they'll throw in a lot more English than I will.

L: So then would your mom feel left out? Or would someone have to translate for her?

T: Being encouraging, she didn't. They didn't create a resentment or a feeling of what a being targeted in that manner. And feeling left out. She encouraged it. So if I did respond in English, she'd be like, no, say it in Farsi.

L: Got it.

T: And that's a big thing and we see that sometimes in mixed homes. The opposite happens where if even if you're in a mixed group of friends, a group of people will say, 'speak English,' you know, or they'll shame you for speaking another language which you don't realize is shaming or microaggression because they also just want to be included and sometimes can feel left out in this matter. However, thankfully my mother made sure not to do that.

L: Interesting. Well, a lot of us here are married to non Iranians and trying to raise bilingual kids and of everyone I've interviewed, no one has been able to do it. Your good friend Maz is having a hard time with his kids and so are all the others- especially the fathers, I would say. So what would be your tip for people in a half Iranian half other relationships raising bilingual kids?

T: Persistency, consistency and understanding, meaning that keep doing it, don't give up. It does become very easy to not speak Farsi. It becomes very easy because why not, we are here. However, if you think about English as a language, with kids, we don't learn English from our parents, per se. We don't sit there and learn the rules of how to speak, read and write, specifically from our parents. Sure we get the basis. But let's be honest, our parents grammar isn't great, right? So they're not teaching us. English is a very difficult language. Farsi is not. Farsi is actually not a very difficult language. There are no genders in Farsi, there are simple rules. Even reading and writing Farsi- it's a phonetic language. So pretty much you know how to read and write. Sure there's a difference between khodemooni speaking and ketabi speaking- however, that's something you go along and get along, especially if you read a lot you'll learn. However, being persistent, pushing through even when it's more convenient, whether it's in public or at home, continue to speak and teach and just speak Farsi. Your children will eventually pick it up, trust me. Second of all is consistency, meaning, don't just do it part time and then not other times. Like when people give up but also when they are not consistent in its application. And finally, understanding, meaning be patient.

L: Why is it important to learn Persian? Do you think it is important?

T: It's extremely important to learn ones quote unquote native tongue, simply because there are many things that that Persian teaches. And I encourage this of all parents of all different ethnic backgrounds. First of all, it teaches cultural pride and heritage. I can be Iranian and American and there's no separation of the two. People always assume 'Well, if you're American, then this is what the archetype of an American is.' That is not true. That has never been true. We've been programmed to believe that but the truth is all different. The strength of this country, much like the strength of Iran comes from the different cultural and heritage backgrounds, all in one place, all identifying as one nationality. In Iran, we have Kurds, Armenians, Azaris, Turks. We have a lot of different groups of people all in one, one country, and it gives it its strength and its flavor. If you ask an Egyptian or a Syrian or or someone from Lebanon, if you ask them what they are, they will say they're they're Arab, even though we're talking about the Mesopotamian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian empires of old, right, but now they're Arab. However, Iran, which was also invaded, never became Arab. They're still Iranian. And the difference is because we had a Ferdowsi, it's because we had a Hafez, it's because we had a defined language and cultural heritage, which shaped our identity and a lot of our culture is in that language. A lot of the understanding of Iranian culture and rasm o rosoomhayee keh ma dareem, the different cultural traditions that we have, are in our language, you can understand things like tarof, naz kardan, oghdeyee. These are things that you can't specifically translate. But if you understand the language, you can understand the people. And that's why so important for, for our generation and past generations to promote this to future generations. We can leave the bad behind, but take the good with us.

L: That's wonderful. And I think you're the way your father put it. You can't put it any better than that either. Just to be able to tell your dardeh del to your children.

T: Of course, there's going to be a day that you're going to want to, to say something that comes from the heart, whether it's whether it's on the most joyous day, or the most serious day or the gloomiest day on your deathbed, and you're going to want to say it in your native tongue. And it will fall on deaf ears if you do not take the opportunity and the time and effort now to teach your children so teach them now. Teach them now. Don't wait. And even if they're there resentful and they are defensive and fighting back, that's how we feel about everything we're taught. We feel the same about being taught the words thank you and you're welcome. But eventually, the children that learn to say thank you also become better human beings in the long run.

L: Ah, that's so good. That's very, very motivating. Thank you. Well, so now we're recording this we're going to shift gears a little bit we're recording this with the events that are happening in the United States all the Black Lives Matter protests happening. I interviewed Reza Aslan and I asked a question, what part of Iranian culture are you trying not to pass on to your kids? And his immediate answer was the racism. So I was wondering if you can respond to that as someone with your unique perspective of being half Iranian, half black? Have you seen that a lot in the Iranian culture in particular?

T: Racism is a worldwide problem, no matter where you are, and unfortunately, Iranians are no different now. Well, originally, Iranians were actually very progressive in their thoughts on concepts such as gender and racial, cultural differentiations. Unfortunately, one of the globalization factors has been race and Iranians can be very racist. A lot of Iranians are defensive of that and when they become defensive, I understand. Accountability will always feel like an attack when someone's not ready to accept responsibility. So I understand. However, in a culture that called Asian people chesh tang for the longest time until very recently, which just means tight eyes, we should be aware of our racial and cultural prejudices and biases. And I expressed this to Iranians all the time, who are defensive about it, Iranians and I express, I explained, I have to explain racism and they're like, well, Iranians aren't racist, and I'm like, yes, this is racism when your daughter brings home a white guy, and you're okay with it. Sure. It's a little different, but you're okay. And if your daughter brings home a black guy, people will call her a whore. That is racism. Are we aware of this have we seen this before? And the answer is yes. And we should be aware of this because a lot of people from Iran will contact me and say, well, we're not racist. And I say, let's ask the Afghans, they live in Iran, if they think Iranians are racist. Let's ask the afro Iranians in the south, who are called, who are called Blackie, and burnt all the time. And, and burnt black, seeyah sookhteh and all these words, let's ask them if Iranians can be racist, right. So racism is is no stranger to Iranians. What we can do. And this is a major thing people need to be need to understand is simply be aware. If you were an alcoholic, the first step is not rehab, the first step is not an intervention, the first step is for you to be aware that you have a problem. And so all I ask of Iranians, and my fellow hamvatan I simply ask, be aware that there is a problem, do not deny it. In Farsi, there's the a saying- kesee keh khab hast, meesheh beedaresh kard. Vali kesee keh khodesho meezaneh beh khab, heech vakht beedar nemeesheh. Which means one who's asleep can be woken up but one who pretends to sleep can never be woken. So I asked my fellow Iranians to be woke, stay woke, wake up, wake up to the good and the bad of Iranian culture and society, and let's work together to remove the bad we can. If there's one thing that protests show you not today, but historically, that people have shown you, when groups of people get together, anything is possible. It can be good or bad. It's up to us. So let's focus it on good.

L: I love it. And are there any other resources that you recommend Iranian specifically look into?

T: Yes, there's this wonderful precious resource that exists. And I think, unfortunately, people don't utilize them as much. They're called books. Iranians are amazing at being experts on things that they've never actually read about. I have seen many people in general but Iranians specifically go from helicopter experts to epidemiology to civil rights leaders and experts in three short months. And yet when I asked have you ever read a book on this subject? The answer is most often no. Even on Iranian history itself, and the politics in Iran, very few times have I communicated with someone on these matters, and they've actually read a single book about it. Experience is great. And this happens in every community. I feel the same way about the African American community when speaking about racism. I understand that many people have experienced racism but how many people have actually read about racism, the African American History of struggle, and, and the history of racism in the United States. We can all for the most part read. Thankfully, literacy rates in the world are the highest they have ever been. We all can read because we all read memes and articles and editorials all the time. And we read the subtitles of the little clips that we watched that convince us as confirmation bias of one thing or another. But we can all read facts, and we can read actual experts. If we all just read more and study more and educate ourselves, most of the problems of the world can be eradicated with actual education, not biased education, not confirmation bias. Actual education.

L: Right, right. And I know there's a lot of lists out there right now of books to read, is there anything you want to recommend in particular?

T: Well, actually, there's not even a book. There are a lot of books. There are a lot of books that I would but a lot of people always love to say they don't have time to read and people don't tend to read and in general. There are a lot of books that I personally recommend and I will give go over that as well. But the main thing that I want people to do is take the time to watch, easy to digest material available to us on Netflix, Amazon, there are documentaries like the 13th, or movies like Just Mercy. The movies are extremely entertaining and still get the get the point across. I feel like some people just because everyone had time to watch Tiger King. But as far as books go, there are books such as How to be an Anti-racist. That's a very good book. Just for something that were to include Middle Eastern diaspora there's a book, I believe it's called When They Call you a Terrorist, A Black Lives Matter Memoir.

If you want to read something that's more in tune, you can read things like If Beale Street could talk. That's a James Baldwin book. I believe it was done in the 70s. So you want to talk about race is a good book that's new, The New Jim Crow. That's an excellent book, The New Jim Crow. I'm just going over books that I've read lately. Mass incarceration because we don't realize the school to prison pipeline that exists. A lot of people are not aware of that.

And I want to express this in ways that Iranians can understand. So let's say you were having a conversation as an Iranian with someone who knew very little about Iran, and had basically only seen it now and then on the news, and was talking to you and trying to suggest to you how you can fix Iran and all the problems of Iran, you would be very annoyed. You'd be like, you don't know anything. He's like, well, I've seen it on the news. I know enough. All your people are busy burning American flags, because that's a misperception that many Americans possibly have of Iran. And it's clearly very far from the truth. So that's why it's important because the truth is out there. It's in things called books, and Between the World and Me, or The New Jim Crow, or White Fragility, all these books that we can read, to understand the facts behind racism and the racist history of the United States.

When people in Iran have a hard time understanding, they say well America looks like it's amazing. And it is. And I want to I want to express to people this. I'm not anti police. I love police. Well, I don't know if I love police, but I like the police, I respect the police. More importantly, I appreciate the police. I'm not anti police. I am anti police brutality. There's a difference. And if there's not a difference, then we probably have a much bigger problem than we realize. I'm not anti white. That's another misconception or misperception is black power means white hate. It does not. We only think that because traditionally and historically that's what white power has meant towards black people. White power means black hate. So we assume that black power must mean white hate. It does not. It does not and I'm not anti white. I am anti white supremacy. I'm not anti American. I love America. America is an amazing country. America, comparatively speaking to all the other countries is possibly the best country in the world, just given the opportunities that are are available here. America only fails when it comes to the concept of America itself. It fails miserably. I am not anti America. I am anti racism. And unfortunately, racism is such a part of America that when you protest racism, people think you're protesting America.

L: Right.

T: So if you have if you had a bigger problem with the knee that Colin Kaepernick knelt with in the NFL than the knee that murdered George Floyd, you might be part of the problem. Be aware of it. Think about it.

L: Well, that's wonderful. This is a little different topic too. Have you looked into the history of Haji Firouz? Do you have any feelings on that?

T: Of course I have.

L: How do you feel is?

T: Haji Firouz is one of the most amazing, beautiful parts of Iranian culture in history, and yet it is steeped in racism. Now, here's the connotation. When we look at Haji Firouz, especially us, in the diaspora of the West, we're looking at it with the lens of the Western diaspora. And so we look at Haji Firouz, as if it's much more racist, or it is racism incarnate. And it is not- it is a tradition that is old. It is an old tradition. 3000 years of Haji Firouz. So it's not the black face that we're used to now. However, however, and this is the point I like to make, we are now awake, we are now aware. So let's now be sensitive, and understanding and empathetic. And we realize now that Haji Firouz is racist, and it is racism. And blackface is inappropriate. We realize that now. It's happened before. It's happened with the swastika. Hindus have for thousands of years, thousands of years it was there designed the swastika. The design that meant good fortune and positive energy. And then Hitler and Nazi Germany perverted the symbol into hate and committed atrocious acts of genocide and murder under its design. So today, no good person would wear a swastika. No good person would wear a swastika and go 'But wait, I don't mean hate. I mean, good fortune and positive energy.' Okay, no person would do that. No reasonable good person would do that. Because we're all aware. Now, we all know, so anyone who wears that design knows what message they're giving out. This is the same with Haji Firouz. This is the same with all lives matter. This is the same with any instrument of hate. They're not the same. The swastika is much more extreme and worse, but they come from the same place. And that's a place of hate and racism.

L: Do we know that the origins, is it a racist origin? Or are we saying it doesn't matter at this point?

T: Not only do we know that the origins are clearly from slavery. We know he sings the song of it- arbabeh khodam. Yo. Arbab is not something anyone wants to be called. Right? So we don't want that situation. So the concept is, we know where it comes from. We've made excuses and justified it for too long. So now that we're here and we are aware, it's okay. It's okay. We can have a Haji Firouz that does not wear a black face. It's okay. We will be fine.

L: When you put it that way. It seems like a very simple, I love it.

T: Most of these things are very simple. If people stopped getting triggered, they would understand that simple. Let's take for example, protests. What are people protesting? A lot of people are like, well, what do they want? Do they want to end racism? No, racism is an individual measure that is innate, unfortunately, in some ways and taught to different people generations. Sure, we cannot end racism with a protest. What we can do is make people aware that racism exists. Do we have people that still deny racism or racist racism exist? Yes, we do. We see it all the time. So being aware is step one. Step two, the system of the United States is racist. We know this because the constitution was originally developed in under a racist foundation. Then we have laws and regulations and policies that encourage discrimination. We know this for a fact. It's not my opinion. So the end of systematic racism, we would like to end systematic racism. Sounds very simple. You just remove or you remove or correct or rectify racist laws and policies and agendas and businesses and government entities. Very simple. And third, in police brutality, we do not want police brutality. We believe that police do an extremely dangerous and difficult job. It's a profession they've chosen. They get to put the badge on and take it off. I cannot take off my skin. So in police brutality, it starts with black people. But guess who's next? All of you. It just goes down the line, and there will be less and less people to stand up for you when it's your turn. So let's start now. Black people are on the front line. Let's stop it. Let's end police brutality. So be aware of racism and systematic racism in police brutality. What's the argument? What are we arguing here? Well, no, let's keep police brutality. Ah, well, I can I can understand why someone might say that. I just think it's a very illogical request. And why is it important that it's in America because America is the land of the free, the home of the brave. If America is the country that promises liberty and justice for all, and we're having this problem, then how much more should this affect countries like Iran? People should be the most aware and come together and use this as an understanding that the three most dangerous words ever written are 'We, the People.' The first three words of the Constitution are the most dangerous words, because the people have all the power, and a government should be afraid of its people. And a people should not be afraid of its government. I'm not talking about politics. I'm simply talking about principles.

L: Beautiful. I'm nodding my head emphatically here. And and I know we started off this conversation by saying that we should have interviewed you earlier, but I'm so happy that it happened now. At this point, I've learned so much. I really appreciate your perspective. I thank you for all these words that you've said. It's definitely changed the way I'm viewing things and the way I feel like I can talk about things. So thank you.

T: I appreciate you. And there's one principle I hope people realize whether it's teaching your kids Farsi, you're teaching your kids social justice, issues, educate, do not humiliate. And that's something that more people should do, whether it's speaking to one another, speaking to a friend, or even speaking to an enemy- educate, do not humiliate. We can all do this. Even when I post people always as 'well, why do you respond to everybody or all these people and you're so patient?' It's because they're not the only ones reading the words that I'm saying. There are people who are on the fence or people who don't know as much or there are people whose mind I am changing and and that's all it takes is changing one person's mind. Yes, one person. I made the example of the candles. In one of the videos I put out and I stand by, when you take one candle and you light it, you now have a flame that can light other candles. And when you light another candle from one you've made two, and the flame of the first candle does not extinguish. It does not get weaker, it's just as strong. Now you have two candles to light two more, and now you have four and from four you do eight and eight to 16. And next thing you know an entire nation, a community, a nation, a world of people are now lit with this fire of freedom and liberty and justice, a principle and we can all make so much change. This isn't black versus white. This isn't us versus them. It's us versus racism. It's good people versus bad people. More importantly, it's good people versus bad thinking and we can change this. We have before, we can again.

L: I love it and I feel it. I feel it's changing for sure. And where can people find you? Where as we've talked about your videos, where's the best place to find you? Not on Facebook apparently.

T: In the streets protesting. 'I am Tehran' all across the board- find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Tick Tock. I try to be on everything. My name is Tehran, it's my real name. It's not a nickname. It's the name I was born with. And if you don't know how to spell Tehran, just watch Fox News. It'll pop up every every 14 minutes.

L: I didn't think that this interview was going to end with us saying just watch Fox News. Okay, that that was the final message everyone.

T: I'm open to all things. By the way in case people didn't realize from what I said on this podcast is I do comedy. My comedy is really just a TED talk. So I incorporate a lot of my thoughts and a lot of facts that people find hard to swallow into my comedy, but I do it in a very fun, acceptable and inclusive, enjoyable way. Because a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. So good comedy makes you laugh, but great comedy makes you think, and I hope to provide great comedy for everyone.

L: I love it. And I think that's a perfect note to end on. So we'll have links to all of these places you can find Tehran on the website, and a list of books that he recommended. I'll go through and type those out so they're easy to figure out. And Tehran, thank you so much for talking with me today.

T: Thank you Leyla Joon.

L: And stay safe out there where your keep your mask on.

T: I mean, at this point I'd rather die from Corona than racism. I don't know- I'm out in the streets, help me. Healthcare is next.

L: Yeah, definitely. Well, thank you so much.

To find out more about Tehran:

Tehran can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

If you want to see him speak perfect Persian, check out his clips on youtube, including my favorite from many years ago.