'Tis the Season to be Green

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On December 12, the six-month anniversary of the disputed June 12 reelection of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came and went. What has not gone and keeps coming back is the chorus of protest wreathed in green, the color of Iran's grassroots civil rights movement.

In political circles, former opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi sing along, but more significantly, ordinary Iranian men and women continue to pour into the streets with voices loud and clear, despite the hardliners' admonitions and the potentially harsh consequences.

Since the summer, reformist demonstrations have coincided with official dates on Iran's sociopolitical calendar, which have street rallies associated with them, such as Quds Day (a pro-Palestine rally), the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover and Student Day (commemorating the death of three students in 1953 during the Pahlavi rule).

Unexpected events also spark outpourings of the green movement, such the recent funeral of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who actively supported reform in Iran.

Whether or not the green aspirations of these regular Iranian citizens will be met, to me they have helped resurrect the identity of a nation, or at the very least, repaint it in a different hue.

In 1979, the calendar flipped back--some say by centuries--when the Islamic Revolution happened. Whatever Iran's image was before, the media replaced it with stern bearded men in turbans, black-swathed women looking like crows, and unkempt mobs shrieking 'Death to America'.

But what we have seen since the 2009 Iran Election is something strikingly different.

Despite the foreign press lockout and ongoing nuclear talks, nothing can cover the tracks the opposition movement has left in cyberspace. Through Internet sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, everyday Iranians have come across as a vibrant, youthful and educated population.

They have reshaped Iran in the eyes of the world.

Those who stand out include the beautiful young woman who died on the Worldwide Web during an opposition rally; the 26-year-old mysteriously deceased male doctor who refused to sign falsified prison death certificates; and the mathematics student who boldly asked the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "I don't know why in this country it's not allowed to make any kind of criticism of you."

This winter as I rush about my holiday preparations, a fresh Iran filters into popular culture more and more each day.

Shopping for groceries I see an image of clean-cut Iranians in green on the cover of a special issue of TIME. At the beauty salon, I flip through stories about Iran in women's magazines: the September issue of Marie Claire had a section entitled 'Iran's Dating Game', the December issue of Glamour gives The Women of Iran's One Million Signatures Campaign (for improving women's rights) their Activists Women of the Year Award. Scanning holiday messages on Facebook, I read that ABC is making a TV pilot based on the lives of Iranian immigrants. Will this be more Mad Men or The Simpsons? The mind reels.

Long gone are the days when my mother and stepfather, who immigrated to the US long ago, discreetly kept their roots to themselves, especially during the hostage crisis.

I have always made a point of telling people my heritage, so they understood Iran better. Maybe it was a generational thing...maybe today, thanks to the Iranians speaking out in Iran, it's OK to be Iranian again.

Dare I say it, 'tis the Season to be Green.