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#1 of 30 Old 08-22-2012, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just need to vent... got a little irritated by my ds's kindergarden teacher.... I am eastern european, my husband is arab and so yes, my ds is mixed and I guess looks a little different from his classmates. We moved to a small town due to dh's job. So I am dropping him off this morning and the teacher yells across the classroom (really loud) "where are you guys from?. I found that incredibly rude and irritating. I mean, to be exact, my son is from Florida, Jacksonville to be exact, where he was born and lived the last 5 years... I know the teacher was probably just curious, but her question just really ticked me off... I don't want her to put any labels on my son or to treat him differently.... I might just be oversensitive... 

On a more positive note... the kids had to draw portraits of themselves in school... I saw the drawings hanging in the classroom.. I saw a lot of pink, brown and yellow drawings... Well, my ds's drawing definitely, stood out... he drew himself green! I love that out him, his innocence and how he sees himself... 


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#2 of 30 Old 08-22-2012, 06:29 AM
 
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I'm Eastern European too but I still live there lol, so no labels. 

 

I think this question is asked a lot though, isn't it? Did it bother you that she asked loudly or simply that she asked? If you're worried that he might be treated differently on this ground, you'll be able to figure it out soon enough. Maybe she was just curious, right? She has circumstances until proven guilty. 

 

So what did you answer her or did she commented more?

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#3 of 30 Old 08-22-2012, 07:51 PM
 
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I'd just smile and say, "We're from Florida."  Period.  Act calm and confident and friendly, however you really feel.  That should do it!!!!!

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#4 of 30 Old 08-26-2012, 06:48 PM
 
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I'd just smile and say, "We're from Florida."  Period.  Act calm and confident and friendly, however you really feel.  That should do it!!!!!

 

yeahthat.gif   Dh, ds and I are Caucasian and dd (adopted) is very obviously Hispanic.  People ask where she's from all the time.  I say "New Jersey" (where she was born).  Then they ask where her parents are from and I reply that dh is originally from NY and I am originally from NJ.  Then they correct themselves and USUALLY use the term "birth parents" although I have once gotten "real parents" bigeyes.gif and I tell that that since dd was born in NJ, I'm going to guess they were also from NJ since one generally doesn't travel too far when in labor and about to give birth.

 

People are too much.  And it's almost funny to watch them struggle to be nosy.

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#5 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 11:04 AM
 
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i understand the annoyance.  it is always interesting that "other" means you aren't from here.  whatever that means.  shrug.gif  i agree with keeping calm.  i usually just say we're from whatever side of town and that confuses the person who asks and they move on.


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#6 of 30 Old 08-30-2012, 06:06 PM
 
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I am non-Caucasian, and I get this question asked a lot. I just say the state where I live, since I've lived here most of my life (and before that, I was in another state - still the US). Some people are taken by surprise and just say, "Oh," and some people go further and ask what country I'm from. *sigh*

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#7 of 30 Old 09-01-2012, 12:38 AM
 
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What if you clarified the question, such as "Are you asking where I'm originally from?" or something like that? Then it would highlight the awkwardness of the question. 

 

Sometimes, especially teachers, might be asking in regards to the language spoken at home. You may want to cut to the bone and say outright that your child is fluent in English, was born in the country and has been speaking English (or whatever the community language is), all their lives, for the last 5 years or whatever the story is. I've had waiters use broken English on my kids even though my children are born and raised in France and their dad doesn't even speak English, just because they overhear me speaking English to them. I had the school nurse ask if my daughter spoke French. I held up her file "You have here that she's in her third year of preschool at this school and her birthplace is down the street". Ugh! Just jump into the subject if anyone is exploring the possibility of putting your child in ESL or whatever, and set the record straight. 

 

I get the opposite. I'm white (no relation to the Caucasus mountains), living in Europe. Nothing complicated there, right? People answer me in German or the local dialect. Then I have to back up. This is NOT a German accent. I also get people launching into discussions on British Politics... I WISH people would first ask me where I was from before assuming!

 

Just to be more confusing, my husband is also white but he's dark as are the kids (black hair & tans well). So I get asked "What's the dad?" or even stuff about attractive mixed kids... I hate to disappoint them-my husband and I are the same background! 

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#8 of 30 Old 11-06-2012, 03:00 PM
 
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As someone who has lived in multiple countries and was raised bi-lingual (English and German), even though my family has no German heritage, I have gotten these kinds of questions A LOT. I would echo what most people have said so far.

 

1) Try not to take it personally. People really are usually just curious.

 

2) After a lot of trial and error growing up I finally developed a sort of "script." The short answer I give in 90% of conversations is that "I mostly grew up in Texas" (follow-up when they ask "mostly?" is that I traveled a lot growing up. Period). The longer answer might describe a few other places I lived and traveled "because my parents worked internationally and wanted to take their whole family along." I've found that if you condense it down and act like it's completely normal, people will usually stop pestering you with questions pretty quickly.

 

3) Turn the conversation around by asking the other person questions. People love to talk about themselves. This gets the attention off of you and your family and might even give you a whole new set of "problems" (how to get the other person to stop talking!) wink1.gif

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#9 of 30 Old 11-21-2012, 01:10 PM
 
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just say a town . . .no one will ever figure to question this for fear of looking dumb

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#10 of 30 Old 11-21-2012, 07:53 PM
 
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I honestly don't understand why people are offended by this question. I can understand being offended at being yelled at across a room. I don't understand being offended by the question I get it a lot about my kids, usually from African people who can tell they are African. Im impressed by their ability to see that . They usually get the country too.
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#11 of 30 Old 11-21-2012, 09:08 PM
 
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I honestly don't understand why people are offended by this question. I can understand being offended at being yelled at across a room. I don't understand being offended by the question I get it a lot about my kids, usually from African people who can tell they are African. Im impressed by their ability to see that . They usually get the country too.


I also never have felt offended - just assume it is curiosity. My Cuban heritage kids don't look clearly like any particular ethnic group, and people wonder what their background is. Why is the whole subject so sensitive? We want to teach our kids to be proud of their heritage, yet we don't want to talk about it casually? In our society, we are not supposed to comment on a person's ethnicity - are we supposed to pretend to not notice? I don't quite get how to celebrate diversity without acknowledging it.

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#12 of 30 Old 11-27-2012, 08:40 PM
 
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I feel like people think something negative is being implied when people wonder if they're from somewhere else, especially internationally. In reality, though, I think most people are just curious and not good at expressing it- it's not pejorative. We live in Hawaii but I speak Russian to my son, so I think it's natural that people wonder if we're from somewhere else and I don't mind if they ask. I DID get sort of irritated when someone asked if he was adopted, though. Because only adoptees can speak Russian?! Why would I know it too then?! THAT was kind of beyond. 

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#13 of 30 Old 12-05-2012, 12:50 PM
 
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Why do you feel offended? I have asked as well, because I'm curious myself, I'm very curious when it comes to languages, culture, ethnicity, etc A lot of people have asked me where I'm from, but that is mostly the ones that have heard me speak Czech to my children and then I switch to English with my Husband. People are just curious.

 

MOST of the time, at least that's what I want to think.

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#14 of 30 Old 12-06-2012, 08:46 PM
 
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I get why you feel like that. I do too. I was a teenager when I moved into the US and still have a slight accent when I speak English. The first thing people ask me when they meet me is where I am from. It just makes me feel singled out. I know it is not that person's fault, but because it happens so often, I am just tired of it. When I tell them where I was born, then I am often asked if I dance samba or play soccer. Does every Brazilian actually knows how to do these two things? Yes, I was born there, but grew up most of my life somewhere else. I just feel like people are trying to put me in a box. I know not everyone does, but it feels like that. 

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#15 of 30 Old 12-09-2012, 09:10 AM
 
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I feel like people think something negative is being implied when people wonder if they're from somewhere else, especially internationally. In reality, though, I think most people are just curious and not good at expressing it- it's not pejorative. We live in Hawaii but I speak Russian to my son, so I think it's natural that people wonder if we're from somewhere else and I don't mind if they ask. I DID get sort of irritated when someone asked if he was adopted, though. Because only adoptees can speak Russian?! Why would I know it too then?! THAT was kind of beyond. 

 

But that sort of contradicts the first part of your post. Its NOT irritating to get asked "where ya from?" (asker assumes you're NOT from around there) but it IS irritating to ask if your son is adopted (because he is speaking a language from a country where a large number of adoptees hail from?) Why would you know Russian too? Perhaps because some moms who adopt from Russia attempt to learn the language so they can communicate with their adopted child? Or perhaps they adopt from Russia *because* they know the language or otherwise have ties to the country?? Just providing another perspective!

 

Its funny when people would ask me where my baby "was from" (assuming an African country i guess?) and i would respond "Detroit"...not the "exotic" local they were assuming i guess!

 

I think one reason why people might get annoyed at these intrusive questions is because its one thing to get asked once...but some people might get this question multiple times a day every day. It can get annoying. My son got asked "where'd ya get that red hair" every time we left the house! That can get irritating for a kid yknow?


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#16 of 30 Old 12-09-2012, 09:15 PM
 
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I guess I feel like it's more invasive and personal to ask how you built your family than where you're from; I don't think that's contradictory. I ascribe neutral motives to the desire to know where people are from, but I can't see asking about adoption as anything but invasive. 

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#17 of 30 Old 12-10-2012, 05:26 AM
 
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Why do you feel offended? I have asked as well, because I'm curious myself, I'm very curious when it comes to languages, culture, ethnicity, etc A lot of people have asked me where I'm from, but that is mostly the ones that have heard me speak Czech to my children and then I switch to English with my Husband. People are just curious.

 

MOST of the time, at least that's what I want to think.


I am in this exact situation (different Eastern European language). I do sometimes also ask other people a variation of the where-are-you-from question, mainly because I like to make connections with other families raising children with another language/culture. Also I'm genuinely interested in other languages, cultures. That said, my annoyed moment came when someone heard my kids' names & said how wonderful it is that people can just make up names these days. Grrrrrrr.


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#18 of 30 Old 12-13-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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I also never have felt offended - just assume it is curiosity. My Cuban heritage kids don't look clearly like any particular ethnic group, and people wonder what their background is. Why is the whole subject so sensitive? We want to teach our kids to be proud of their heritage, yet we don't want to talk about it casually? In our society, we are not supposed to comment on a person's ethnicity - are we supposed to pretend to not notice? I don't quite get how to celebrate diversity without acknowledging it.


This! It is so silly to be offended by someone who is simply asking questions in an attempt to acknowledge your heritage. Ethnic diversity it NOT a dirty, taboo, or shameful subject.

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#19 of 30 Old 12-29-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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While it was rude of her to call across the room, I don't find the question in and of itself to be rude. People are curious about other people and asking questions is how we learn. No one should be afraid to discuss race or ethnic origins, those conversations shouldn't feel taboo.

 

When I hear someone with an accent I may ask where they're from. They usually are pleased to talk with me about their native country, especially if I've heard of it before or know where it is on a map lol. 

 

I don't usually ask based on a person's color because I don't want them to feel self conscious. But if we've developed a rapport over time then I might ask. People are usually quite pleased to talk about themselves, especially when asked politely...

 

I don't think it's rude to ask but it does take a measure of tact.

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#20 of 30 Old 02-05-2013, 02:20 PM
 
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You make a good point. Some people are more private than others. I am from a culture that such questions would not offend anyone. When I moved to a different part of the country, I realized that people were offended by such questions. I an African-American female married to a Caucasian male of Irish, Italian heritage with two teenagers. My kids had bright blue eyes when they were young. I am dark with black/brown eyes. I was bombarded with a lot of questions that would have offended most people--but I saw it as a time to engage with people. Some people were rude and did not realize that their questions were hurtful. My kids are older now with hazel, blue,green eyes which startle some people especially when they see us walk into a restaurant or when people encounter us who have never met us, "Where are you from?" That questions depends on the source. It is amusing to sit in a restaurant and see the stares and even have someone actually approach to ask questions. It is the bluish eyes that stump them. I grew up down south in the United States. It takes a lot for me to get unravelled as I heard enough stuff growing up.
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#21 of 30 Old 02-09-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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I have gotten this same question for years, and long before I met my Ethiopian dh. I'm as white as they come, born and raised in the USA. But if they skip the step of assuming I'm Amish, people always ask me where I'm from, lol. 

 

So, it might not be racially motivated nor malicious. Human beings have a tendency to say dumb stuff. Especially when trying to fill in a conversational gap or relate to people who are new to them. I've been guilty of that. So I try to be gracious in my answer and not assume malice or even stupidity when people say dumb stuff.

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#22 of 30 Old 09-23-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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I'm 36 years old, my dad is white, my mom is black.  I don't look like your "typical" mixed person.  I have tan skin and straight black hair.

 

I will NEVER get used to people asking me where I am from.  It's not as simple as you think.

 

Usually it starts off with someone staring at me like I have two heads.  Then they ask:

Where are you from? 

I'll say Nebraska. 

No, where are you from ORIGINALLY? 

I was born in New York but was raised in Nebraska.

No, what's your ethnicity? 

I'm mixed.

So your dad is?

White and my mom is black.

Gee, you don't look mixed.

*sigh*

 

Some of the ignorant comments I've had to deal with an almost a daily basis

"You look Spanish, why don't you speak Spanish?"

"I thought you were Native American, Indian, Hawaiian, from Brazil.", etc. etc.

 

And I've just invested 20 minutes of my life explaining my entire family history to a complete stranger that I am NEVER going to see again.

 

I don't get offended so much as annoyed.  People make me feel like I'm some weird science experiment gone wrong.  They tell me how I don't look mixed, most mixed people don't have hair like me, or I look like this or that.  As if it's my fault for not "looking" mixed. They want me to EXPLAIN why I have straight hair, when every other mixed people they know of has kinky hair.

 

 


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#23 of 30 Old 04-20-2014, 09:21 PM
 
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People who say such things probably are immigrants themselves. Well, everyone in the Americas is outsider - even aboriginals migrated here from Asia long time ago.

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#24 of 30 Old 05-02-2014, 08:04 PM
 
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I also don't quite get the offensive part. If you or your kids look interesting or special enough to warrant a question about your heritage - that's a compliment first and foremost :)

 

I am from Germany and seriously - I am happy every time someone notices my accent and asks me, where I am from. Never would I even think twice about answering something else than "Oh, I am from Germany!" I am happy about my heritage. I love Germany. Every time I get asked, I get to remember my beautiful country and tell everyone about it.

 

As for kids - my husband is Asian, even though he grew up in America so I am sure we will get quite a few looks, comments and questions once we have kids. I am pretty sure they will look more Asian, than Caucasian because that's just how genetics work for the most part. I can already see myself on the playground with them, and people wondering if they are adopted >.> But oh well. If one asks where someone is from, just give the appropriate answer. If your child was born in Russia, say Russia. If your child was born in Africa, say Africa. And if they were born in the US say the state I guess.

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#25 of 30 Old 05-13-2014, 11:21 PM
 
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Hi Enrooted,

 

It can be offensive for some people because it may imply that they are not like  "real Germans" or "real Americans" or "real Chinese". Asking questions about another person's family background or ethnicity can be a very personal question, and to ask and to PURSUE the issue is rather rude.

 

There are 2 ways that the question "where are you from"  can be asked

 

1) Inoffensive: to make light chit-chat or small talk  (it would be the same for someone of any background)

Q: "Where are you from?"

A:  Boston

Q: Cool; what do you think of / how do you like  [where we are now if not Boston]...?

 

2) Offensive

Q: "Where are you from?"

A: Boston

Q: Where are you really from?...

 

Basically this means a stranger is demanding you answer a question of "What is your ethnicity & that of your parents, partner, child?  What is your bloodline?"

 

What's next - a big letter on my identity card  with my official ethnicity stamped on it? A document to show I've paid my head tax? Or maybe a special card to show that I am allowed in a certain area despite my official ethnicity ?

 

http://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/reich-ministry-of-the-interior-invalidates-all-german-passports-held-by-jew

http://www.roadtojustice.ca/laws/chinese-head-tax

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-p126-00004-1/

 http://encyclopedia.densho.org/War_Relocation_Authority/

 

http://www.sahistory.org.za/south-africa-1806-1899/pass-laws-south-africa-1800-1994

 

It is rather a fraught issue, historically & in the present.

 

Just last year  in Ireland kids were taken from their parents in Ireland because the authorities thought that the ethnicities  did not "match" & only allowed them to return after DNA testing proved the parentage:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/blonde-girl-roma-parents-returned-dna

 

_______________________________________

Amber,

One way to deal with it is to turn the question around

 

Q: "Where are you from?"

A: "Nebraska."

Q: "Where are you  from originally?"

A: I was born in New York & grew up in Nebraska. What about you, where are you from?

 

If they don't get the hint & persist with "But where do your ancestors come from?" Answer "It's a bore to  recite, what about you?"

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#26 of 30 Old 05-18-2014, 06:57 AM
 
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Its possible for  a person to be curious about  someone's ethnic background without the assumption that they 'are not really from here', or not 'an authentic' american or whatever other nationality.  The question is more likely to come up in countries of greater ethnic diversity.

For the record, almost all people are mixed in some way or other.

 

I agree that the question 'where are you really from' is offensive in its implication. But thats not the title of the thread.

 

 How can a person broach the subject of where one's forebears came from, no matter whether it was yesterday or  generations ago, without sounding like they are racist? I wonder  how much reverse racism is involved in the assumption that the question is racist itself?

 

I havent read the whole thread, so sorry for repeating anything....

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#27 of 30 Old 05-18-2014, 10:02 PM
 
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 How can a person broach the subject of where one's forebears came from, no matter whether it was yesterday or  generations ago, without sounding like they are racist? I wonder  how much reverse racism is involved in the assumption that the question is racist itself?

 

 

I think that it's not really possible in most contexts to ask a question about a stranger's ancestry or ethnic background (or that of their kids) without being rude.It's really no one else's business. In my opinion, to ask such a question of a stranger is like asking about their weight,  income,  religion, etc.

 

If someone wants to talk about their ethnic background, & they answer the initial "Where are you from?" with "Boston, but my maternal grandmother came from Ireland and on my father's side they came down from the Maritimes looking for work in the 1920s...." then  that's their choice.

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#28 of 30 Old 05-19-2014, 11:57 AM
 
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I think that it's not really possible in most contexts to ask a question about a stranger's ancestry or ethnic background (or that of their kids) without being rude.It's really no one else's business. In my opinion, to ask such a question of a stranger is like asking about their weight,  income,  religion, etc.

 

If someone wants to talk about their ethnic background, & they answer the initial "Where are you from?" with "Boston, but my maternal grandmother came from Ireland and on my father's side they came down from the Maritimes looking for work in the 1920s...." then  that's their choice.

You are assuming the person asking is white, or  at least part Irish.  Does that mean that if the person with an Irish background asks  this question, they are rude, but not if they  are non white?  The reverse racism  I am referring to is the assumption that  the color of someone's skins determines whether they are racist or not, ie,  white person with possibly Irish background, is more likely to be racist than someone else.

 

I agree that its not the first question  someone should ask of a total stranger.  But at what point is it ok to ask? Diverse backgrounds can make for interesting conversation especially for someone who is well traveled and/or interested in  human cultural diversity for its sake. I dont think this is in the same category of privacy as the issues you  brought up.  Is cultural diversity a matter of privacy?   I dont know.

 

Is it ok to to ask if someone 'sounds' different but not if they 'look' different? (thats pretty relative). If  they sound different, then most likely they were not brought up here, does mean its ok to ask? OTOH, they may still have been brought up here, and identify with this country (whichever country that may be)

 

I dont know, i want to start with the assumption  of innocent until proven guilty, ie that person isnt necessarily racist. I agree that the repeated question can be very annoying... its a bit like people handing out advice all the time when youre a parent.....

 

I agree with your formula-'I have polish/lithuanian/turkish heritage.  How about you?....sort of  thing. Maybe it only  needs to be that simple.....

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#29 of 30 Old 05-19-2014, 09:54 PM
 
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Hi ContactMaya,

 

No, I assuming that one stranger is asking another stranger to disclose their ethnic background  and/or family history (which was the initial point of the thread), no implication of the ethnic backgrounds of who is asking and who is answering.

 

The example I gave of someone *volunteering* their ethnic background after the general question of "where are you from" had an Irish grandparent.

 

You ask "at what point is it OK to ask?"

 

My answer would be:  It is "OK to ask" someone's ethnic background at about the same point in a relationship that it would be "OK to ask"  someone about their sexual orientation, weight, or family relationships.  This is regardless of the ethnicity of the person asking the question or answering the question.  I think that it's just as private  (or public) an issue.

 

You ask "is it OK to ask someone who 'sounds different'"

I would say about the same thing. Asking a stranger about their accent can send the same message "You're not from around here, you do not belong".  Or, "I can peg your geographic origins & your economic class background".

 

Again, if people volunteer such information, fine. Otherwise, there's plenty of other things in the world to make small-talk about.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post
 

You are assuming the person asking is white, or  at least part Irish.  Does that mean that if the person with an Irish background asks  this question, they are rude, but not if they  are non white?  The reverse racism  I am referring to is the assumption that  the color of someone's skins determines whether they are racist or not, ie,  white person with possibly Irish background, is more likely to be racist than someone else.

 

I agree that its not the first question  someone should ask of a total stranger.  But at what point is it ok to ask? Diverse backgrounds can make for interesting conversation especially for someone who is well traveled and/or interested in  human cultural diversity for its sake. I dont think this is in the same category of privacy as the issues you  brought up.  Is cultural diversity a matter of privacy?   I dont know.

 

Is it ok to to ask if someone 'sounds' different but not if they 'look' different? (thats pretty relative). If  they sound different, then most likely they were not brought up here, does mean its ok to ask? OTOH, they may still have been brought up here, and identify with this country (whichever country that may be)

 

I dont know, i want to start with the assumption  of innocent until proven guilty, ie that person isnt necessarily racist. I agree that the repeated question can be very annoying... its a bit like people handing out advice all the time when youre a parent.....

 

I agree with your formula-'I have polish/lithuanian/turkish heritage.  How about you?....sort of  thing. Maybe it only  needs to be that simple.....

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#30 of 30 Old 05-20-2014, 12:08 PM
 
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I both agree and disagree with you. I think  the way you describe it is  too far in the direction of 'political correctness', (which is a term i never use, actually thats the first time i've ever used it).  There's nothing wrong with curiosity. I know the feeling where people think im not 'from here', and that happens to me everwhere, including in the place i was born, and in places i have lived for years. Another version of it, is where  someone gives you basic information about a place where you happen to have been living for over a decade. For eg, 'theres an elevator down the block you know' (me thinking, yes, i know, i have lived here for 10years). People ask me where i am from,  and although it makes me feel like 'i am not from here', well, i am not, but i have lived here for years.

 

I would hate it, if people really wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, lest they offended me. It just means we are always uncomfortable  with each other, because there's something unspoken.

 

I dont think its the same as sexual orientation, because sex is by nature more private than geographcial diversity.

 

I think there needs to be a middle  ground between  assuming people have good intentions, with not making someone's difference the only topic of conversation.

 

I do find it annoying when people ask 'why did you come here', 'how long have you been here', etc.  I also think that if the only interesting thing they can think of to ask, is about my origins, then we probably dont have much in common. Theres so much more to talk about!  But i dont think they are necessarily being racist, its more that they are boring.

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