I actually don't remember the last time someone asked me 'Where are you from?' I remember being asked this a lot when I was younger. I faced some racism in my youth, but over time it has gotten less frequent and it hasn't affected me as much. I grew up in South Maroubra, there weren't too many Asians here back in the 90s, but now there's plenty and nearby suburbs like Kingsford are saturated with Asian businesses and eateries. I guess the follow-up comment to that question is usually about my last name – 'Au' – which is a really common Asian last name. People usually think that 'Christopher Kevin' is my full name, and that 'Au' stands for 'Australia.' I think it's pretty funny.
I guess that I have never really taken too much offence to the question, it's all about the context in which it is asked – I can see how it can be used to create a feeling of alienation or not belonging. But in my experience, some people who ask this question are genuinely curious about my background and want to learn more. Over time, we've seen Asian cultures infiltrate popular culture, film, hip-hop and media generally – so naturally, people are going to be more inquisitive in order to understand a culture that they may not be familiar with. With that being said, there definitely is an idea of White Australia being the cultural norm down here – and anybody in Sydney knows that for the most part, that just isn't factual. You can drive through entire suburbs and regions which are rich in ethnic and minority cultures.
Australia has a long way to go in order to understand and recognise its true cultural identity, purely because we are made up of so many different peoples. That, and the fact that Australia still hasn't properly addressed issues faced by the Indigenous population. Still, I would like to believe that sometimes, when someone questions me 'Where are you from?' – it isn't coming from a hurtful or negative place.