I hate that it’s this way, but of course the last time I was asked ‘where are you from’ wasn’t too long ago, because if you’ve ever been to a bar, party or any event ever and looked not yt (white), people will go out of their way to approach you and ask that question.
Without any introduction - which isn’t unusual - this girl approached me from behind, interrupting me mid-conversation to ask where I was from. I know what these people mean by the question, but have lately felt defiant in letting anyone ‘out me’ as an ‘outsider’,and so refuse to give up the answer they want.
But no matter how many times I say ‘I’m from Queensland’ or ‘I used to move around between a heap of rural towns growing up’ they will only reword the question again and again until they‘ve no choice but to resign and remark upon my appearance. By this point, feeling exhausted, disappointed and defeated I give out my mixed heritage, and am almost immediately hit with the response I dread the most:
She tells me about South Africa.
Her holiday, her opinions, her knowledge. She questions me about the culture and she questions me about the people, and when I don’t have very much to say she tells me how I should really visit South Africa myself. This is what I dread most about being asked where I’m from. Not just because of the feeling of being suddenly exposed and ‘othered’ in a social situation that doesn’t recognise these micro-aggressions (nor legitimise any negative response), but because now I’m also being made out to be an ignorant imposter among my ancestry, leaving me to feel alienated, and as though I’ve been stripped of the right to my own heritage.