I mean, I thought it was quite obvious I’m Black American, but I guess not. It is now a long running joke with me and my friends about my questionable ethnicity. This seriously has gone on for many years.
What I find so intriguing about this phenomenon is that usually there is no segue into the question. No conversation connectors that might make asking this question logical.
I remember, for example, sitting in a community hot tub once. This dude, never seen him before, just asks, ” Are you African American or Indian?–I can’t tell.”
Yup, just like that. And then he asked me if I’m a Christian . . .and seemed surprised when I left the hottub.
Another great moment happened yesterday. I attended a Zumba class at a dance studio. I usually only attend belly dance class, so I’m not a regular here by any means. I took my place in the back wall because I am not familiar with the steps.
A woman next to me says, ” You look familiar. What are you?”
This is how it happens.
No transition, no hello, or “is this your first class?” Just–”what are you?”
Although I have had this question asked many times and many ways, I was taken off guard this time.
I remember several times replying, “I am a Leo. What are you?”
But not that swift today.
So, I asked her what she meant.
“What’s your background?”
She thought I was from Guyana. Which has been assumed before.
As far as my nationality is concerned, people have different theories. People have told me I am from many different countries–Haiti, East India, England, Ethiopia, Egypt, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Canada? Yes, Canada really, Jamaica, the Phillipines, and Columbia are a few.
Why no one guesses America is beyond me. I feel sometimes I just might make things easier on myself if I just tattooed an American flag on my forehead. . .
but then I would probably be asked to explain why I have an American flag on my forehead when I’m actually ____.
And then I would be seen as a traitor. Ok, bad idea.
When visiting an East Indian restaurant a worker there started speaking to me in a language that I cannot even name. Several people have walked up to me and have started speaking to me in Spanish.
It breaks my heart when I give them the deer in the headlights look. ”I know nothing of which you speak.”
Granted, I am learning Spanish, so now at least I can let
people know in Espanol, that I’m learning.
I just do not understand why complete strangers feel ok with asking me this question. What difference will it make in your life to know this?
I just decided to have fun with it, because even if it is a rude question, people continue to ask.
Too much to write on all this. What I need is an interactive map. A map I can post with the places people assume I am from. . .
I’ll work on that. . .