When was the last time someone asked you ‘Where are you from?’
Late last year; so far 2018 has been ‘Where are you from’ free!
What happened/how did they say it?
It was just someone I started talking to when I was out one night. It was very casual, non-intrusive, light-small talk. It was a: ‘Sooo, where are you from?’
I even did the old: ‘Melbourne, yourself?’ reply. Then they were like: ‘No no, like where are you from?’ It's almost always asked at the start of the conversation, which is interesting.
What was the person like?
I wouldn't want to make assumptions.
How did/does it make you feel?
I'm over getting angry or annoyed about it, but it makes me feel like the colour of my skin is still such a focus for some people; as well as finding out ‘where it comes from’.
How did you respond/how would you have preferred to respond?
I responded with: ‘You mean what is my cultural background? Well my mum is Australian my father is Jamaican—have a nice night!’
I would have preferred to have responded by asking a few questions back. Like: Why are you asking this? Why does it matter? Why do you care? Why, why, why!
What connotations do you think the question has and what do you think it says about Australia in terms of the way we understand cultural identity/ nationality?
It brings up a lot of questions as to why people even ask the question: what kind of answer are they looking for? What kind of answer will satisfy their need to ask? Are you asking why I look the way I do but have an Australian accent? Do you want to know if I have any ‘Australian heritage’ in me? Do you want to place me in a category?
It shows how some people in Australia still see ethnicity as a definitive of nationality, or as something categorical, or as something that means 100% nothing. But the reality is that it is much more complicated and complex than that.