Today's 5 min post is another response to a comment from Tw on my first post about being a third culture kid.

Usually when asked where are u from…i assume People are asking about my ancestry…not physical location, but all depends on context. I personally don’t think a person of chinese descent is considered to be an american…at least not today. may be one day.
from Tw

Thanks to this Lens user for commenting on my post, maybe consider joining t2 so I can properly tag you ;)

Being asked where I am from is indeed a different question depending on the context. However, for people of color across the world living in predominantly white places, this question is rather loaded.

I assume that most of us participating in online discourse are familiar with why a simple question might be charged with implications, and understand how that phrase has consistently been used against PoCs to create a sense of otherness, so I won't spend more of my 5 minutes explaining this.

In my personal experience, one time I was in a chicken shop late at night in east London, and the store clerk asks me "where are you from?" I answer "New York," for the sake of simplicity, and he follows up with a "where are you really from?" I chuckle and answer "I'm Chinese, if that's what you're asking". While these days I'm no longer particularly phased by micro-aggressions like this, I imagine there are plenty of better ways to ask this question that aren't so loaded. A couple of examples are "what's your ethnicity?" or even "where is your family from?"

On the flip side, I was getting to know someone new and had casually asked them "where are you from", only to receive a response saying "do you mean my ethnicity, or where I grew up?" I thought for a second and responded with an answer I would like to assume is the normal underlying motivation to this question: "whichever you feel more compelled by."

As I mentioned in yesterday's 5 min post, our identity is both constructed by ourselves and reinforced by our external world. I'm not sure where OP lives, but if you've ever met an Asian American I would bet that they would fight for their life to be considered more American than Chinese, despite their Chinese ancestry (rampant Sinophobia in the US is a topic of discussion for a different day).


Note: I know I'm not adding a ton of valuable discourse to a already saturated and well-explored conversation dynamics of the simple "where are you from" question, yet it feels important to continue to emphasize this is something that still happens to me and PoCs everywhere around the world.