1. “How is [insert continent or country]?” The inner rage I experience when someone actually asks me “How is Africa?” cannot be put into words. But come on people! We can do better than this. How are you going to ask me how an entire continent or country is doing? And what do you want to know? Politics? Socio-economic affairs? The weather? Please be clear. I know that many Americans’ knowledge of the rest of the world is severely lacking – something many are even proud of – but surely better questions can be asked.
2. “I know X person from your country (or continent). Do you know them?” I remember the first time this happened way back when in my freshman year of college. Someone legitimately asked me if I knew some student from Tanzania that had been a foreign exchange student AT THEIR HIGH SCHOOL. I have never even been to Tanzania. I just remember giving them a quizzical look and walking away from the conversation, without a single word. I don’t care what your fourth grade teacher told you – there are in fact, stupid questions.
3. “Your native language sounds funny/weird!” Personally, I don’t like being asked to say something in another language. But I can appreciate that some people are genuinely curious and not treating you as some kind of show-pony. But if you follow it up with negative commentary, rest assured that you have now used your “one ignorant comment per person” pass. And yes, you only get one. After that, you will definitely be receiving an education on how to not sound so stupid in conversation with foreigners. Don’t worry, it’ll be in English.
4. “You are not like all the other [insert nationality or continental identity].” Oh really? Wait, this is a compliment? How awkward for the both of us because I’m pretty sure I’m one of the three people you’ve ever interacted with from my country. So, how exactly did you arrive at a conclusion as to what my country men and women are like? Please, explain yourself. I am waiting…
5. “You have an accent.” Or sometimes, “You don’t have an accent.” I will save the explanation of how and why this statement is covertly prejudiced for another day. But this statement is actually really bogus. You know why? Because repeat after me: Everyone has an accent. Everyone has an accent. Everyone has an accent.
6. Do you celebrate [insert holiday that is very specific to U.S.A here] in your country? Example: 4th of July. For the record, 4th of July is easily one of my favorite holidays. Even if I do end up leaving the US of A someday, I’ll probably still continue to celebrate it. That being said, you do realize that this is commemorating the United States’ independence right? Like, why would my country celebrate YOUR independence? We have our own. Well, some of us do. Side eye, Europe.
7. “Go back to where you came from.” This is my personal favorite which is usually said after I’ve critiqued an American institution or societal problem and the person took it as a personal affront. (Believe it or not, you can criticize a place and still love it.) My typical response? “You too!” Obviously, Native Americans would get a pass on this one.