I’m Asian. You can tell just by looking at me. My hair is black, my eyes are dark, and I’m kind of short.
I’m not denying it, but I’m also saying that I’m not your typical Asian.
Whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, the answer is always Colorado. That’s where I’m from. I lived there my entire life, up until I left for college. Then I get awkward laughs, and they ask where I’m from.
Same question, but they expect a different answer.
If I repeat Colorado, they ask where my parents are from. Or they ask where my family is from.
Honestly, I have no idea how to ask this question in a way that sounds politically correct and not stupid. Asking someone why they don’t look white is always an awkward question, and one that could get you into trouble. I know I’ve skirted around the question too, when talking to someone who has an accent, and I’m trying to place it.
A few months ago, I had a patient ask me a version of the question that made me laugh. When I told her I was from Colorado, she laughed and asked “Where are your great grandparents from?”
Tricky question, considering that technically, the answer is Europe. Sweden, Switzerland, France… everywhere you wouldn’t expect from a little Asian girl. My mom was adopted, which means she didn’t come from her parents, or her grandparents.
Sometimes, I wish that we could just ask the question. What’s your heritage? You look exotic, what’s your ancestry?
But then, we start to sound like dog breeders.