Where are you really from?

This is a question I have been asked too often. I briefly touched on it before but I thought I could write about it in more depth.

I was once at a volunteer for disabled children. one of the organisers was a man who had once lived in america for a year or two so he had some basic knowledge. I was doing an activity with one of the kids until the man comes up to me and tries to make small talk, in english. The entire volunteer was in Japanese but the guy thought it was a chance to show off a little I’m not sure. He first asked for my name and my school. Then he said “where are you from?”, at this point i knew what he was getting at but since I’ve lived in Japan for my entire life I responded “I am from Japan”. But this man clearly wasn’t accepting my answer and repeated to me, “yes but where are you really from?”. This did annoy me to a certain extent but I decided to respond with “If you are asking about my nationality, I am Japanese and American.”. The man seemed to accept this answer and left me alone.

A woman asked me where I was headed to in a sitting area in an airport, I gave her my answer, New York, and she asked me if I’m from there and I said I have family there. But the lady wanted to know why I don’t look fully white. So she asked me if I only had family in america and I responded no and explained why. I preferred the way she asked me because it wasn’t as invasive as “Where are you really from?”. She found her way around her question to not be too pushy.

I have thought about this question many times. And to be honest who really knows where their from. you could 1/80th African or 1/20th Russian, who knows. So based on how someone looks from the outside you cant really make snap judgements about where someone is from like the man at the volunteer did. No one really knows to be fair so why ask? I have never been the one to ask “But where are you really from?” and I wont be.

Have you ever been asked about your nationality by a stranger?

Or have you been the one to ask that question?

???

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3 thoughts on “Where are you really from?

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