Until only recently, conversations that began with "where are you from?" were pretty brief, and one-sided. Less so conversations and more so passing comments or fact checks, almost always white peers or strangers, curious, confused, just looking to validate their own game of 'lemme guess'—or in the case of this one man on an overnight bus, just eager to share his plans to mail himself to China in a shipping container. (!!??)
I think the racism I internalised as a teen and young adult didn't allow me to identify these kinds of microaggressions when they occurred, and writing this, I'm realising the immense amount of privilege I experience in not having too many of the kind of interactions that jolt you into confronting your other-ness. I'm really grateful to find myself now surrounded by people of colour who shape my experience of being asked "where are you from?" as rich and interesting conversations about heritage, migration and reclaiming culture. I feel lucky to have these questions open up conversations between my friends, family and own understanding of how the answer to this question can grow more nuanced over time.