Questions White People Have Asked Me

My physical features tend to confuse a lot of people, and they’re not shy about it. I don’t have a trace of a distinct accent. I have dark brown skin, full lips, and really thick, curly hair that when straightened often compels people to ask the “Where are you from?” question that I like to diverge with, “New Jersey.” They look displeased. I entertain the mystery and say, “Jersey City.” The real question I know they’re trying to ask all along surfaces, “No, what ARE you?!?!” Here are questions White people have asked me leading up to, or after learning What I Am, Dominican.

“Do you get lighter in the sun?”

The answer is no. Just no.

“Did you scalp an Asian lady for your hair?”

This girl was implying my hair looked too straight after flat ironing it to be my own, and thought I was wearing a weave, wig, or extensions. When I said no, she then asked me if I chemically straightened my hair, which I hadn’t. Then she stroked my head, gave my hair a few tugs and told me about her Black friend’s hair.

“How could you possibly be sunburned?”

Sorry for the overkill, but people won’t stop trending the sun’s effect on my skin. While vacationing in Costa Rica, I didn’t wear sunscreen and the equator rays got the best of me. I returned to work with a peeling forehead and while complaining about the state of my flaky, diseased looking skin, a co-worker asked said question. She couldn’t fathom how Black people get darker in the sun.

“So then what color are your nipples?”

My college dorm room came with a fixture mounted on the wall that seemed to serve no purpose, except comedic relief because it naturally resembled a woman’s breast. One day I came home and found it painted in as a woman’s breast. A White woman’s breast. I jokingly put up a fight with my roommate for her color scheme of choice, since the breast was on my side of the room and mine are brown.  Later during the year, a mini breast painted brown appeared on my desk, but something was off. The areolas were pink. She tried. TC mark

image – L.C.Nøttaasen

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    pink areolas – that last part got me 

  • Anonymous

    Man white people are SO STUPID AMIRITE

    Look out for my new article:

    Accusations black people have made about me. They’re laughably ignorant, crass, and sheltered but hey…they try.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.n.knutson Sarah N. Knutson

      I hate when black guys say/write “Don’t be scared.” Umm…why would I be scared? And thanks for assuming that about me. Not like every guy I’ve dated since high school happened to be black.

      • Jordan

        I’ve never said it, that’s fairly rude, but I’ve definitely *thought* it when it comes to online dating.  I tend to like white girls (‘tend to’ is a gross understatement, but whatever), but you never know who’s open to non-caucasians or not, so it’s something that comes to mind when you’re perusing profiles online.  Not so much in person.  But yeah again, saying it is a whole ‘nother story.

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        It goes beyond that. I’m not even 5″5 (a fucking tragedy) and white girls will still clench their purses if we’re alone in an elevator or will turn around and say “Look, please don’t follow me” if we both happen to drunkenly be walking in the same direction on a Friday night.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Dude: the first week I was in Berlin, I was walking down this poorly-lit side-street, off the main thoroughfare of what was then the happening part of town, at roughly midnight… and three well-dressed, middle-aged White ladies approached *me* (slightly over 6 feet tall)  to ask directions! Blew my little mind. Wanted to give them all the cash in my pockets.  Most of the racism in Berlin, that year, was directed at Romanians, and Yugoslavian war refugees… nice!

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        I’ve got a friend who’s been studying in Germany this summer. From what I’ve heard their whole attitude towards, well, fucking living life is so different over there. 

      • Aksbway4

        Unless you’re Turkish or Islamic in any capacity. Then they talk openly about how much they hate you and what your people are doing to their country, while reassuring you that they’re not racist because they don’t mind black people or Jews!

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        That wouldn’t surprise

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        The day I see a Turkish cop over here I’ll probably faint; some serious 1950s-style segregation going on.

    • I don't like you.

      You’re an asshole. 

    • Chels

      well that will be sure to top your slut walk article.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        SLUT UP

    • Your aunt

      Were you drunk when you commented?

    • Anonymous

      white people get to benefit from centuries of casual and institutionalized white privilege. 

      so let it go, realize you got the better deal and let us colored folks keep making fun of white people for being corny, okay?

    • guest

      Ug you are an idiot

    • Charlene

      speaking of laughably ignorant and sheltered…

    • SAM D

      Don’t worry, Chelsea, I still get sarcasm.

    • Stefan

      I don’t think you’d really be the best poster-child for “intelligent white people,” to be honest.
      (kidding! “white people” is not so reducible as that.)

      But maybe I should express some awe for the way in which you confidently (and almost proudly) Miss The Point on any number of issues (social issues, mostly.)

      To paraphrase an old comment from one of your articles: “You are the worst. The worst at everything.”

      • Anonymous

         Stefan,

        Your commenting history with me is pretty staggering. You leave comments on my pieces, on my comments on other articles, on other articles pertaining to feminism (linking back to my personal blog, which you clearly read), on other people’s comments referring to me–it’s quite strange seeing someone who is clearly so passionate about letting everyone know at every opportunity just how much they disagree with me. I understand that you disagree with/dislike my work and ideas, and I would suggest not reading my personal blog for a start. I can only promise more of the ideology you so detest.

        As to Missing The Point, as you capitalized for some reason, I am quite proud and confident with my opinions on social issues. And while it may seem impossible to you that someone could agree with me, I can assure you that many people do. My values on tradition, feminism, family life, racism, etc are the reason why many people choose to read my personal blog. But even if there wasn’t anyone who agreed with the way I feel about these things, I doubt I’d be able to convince myself otherwise on these issues. Just as you are proud of your opinions, I am proud of mine.

        And as to this particular article, as my three-line comment probably conveyed to those who saw the sarcasm, I do not think black people are ignorant, crass, or sheltered. I am highlighting the three qualities the author seemed to be conveying about the white people who asked her the questions. I took offense to the premise, as with the last statement of “she tried.” I don’t like these things, just as I don’t like racist Twitter trends (#onlywhitepeople for example) or Soulja Boy’s incredibly racist Facebook updates, because I find them hypocritical and insulting.

        I’m happy to see people disagreeing and sharing ideas, but it seems, with your particular commenting history, that you may be spinning your wheels a bit. I’m sorry you disagree with me, but you’re free to “turn the channel,” so to speak.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

        I don’t quite understand why you personally take offense to the author highlighting some questions she’s been asked repeatedly by whites.  I’ve been asked these questions myself so let’s be honest, she’s not exactly making shit up.   They are ignorant and crass questions and if I don’t know you very well, excuse me if I don’t feel like giving you a long drawn out history of my ethnic make up.  I seem to recall getting fed up with a stranger once and saying something along the lines of  “well my mother is black and my father is black so I guess that would make me black”. 

        These aren’t questions I generally thrust onto strangers so I think it weird and rude that people should consider me ready and willing to answer them at the drop of a hat.  I just met you so please forgive me if I don’t want to give you the long story of how my ancestors were repeatedly raped by slave owners and that is why I look the way I do (for this, I’ll refer you to the Nina Simone song “Four Women”), to which you will probably tune out and stare vacantly at your wine glass because the topic is a bit of a mood killer and tends to make people uncomfortable. I used to think you were not terrible, just misunderstood.   But you are working hard to change that, aren’t you? 

      • sgc

        I couldn’t possible like/agree with your comment more.

      • Stefan

        Re: your tubmlr, it’s a “hate follow” (I do not actually follow you.) also a “know thy enemy.” also makes me feel better because I get annoyed and realize that the work I want to do is, in fact, still quite necessary. processing my critical receptions of the things you write also helps to keep that part of my brain (the critical part) going.

        glad you see you missed the point of my capitalization of “Miss The Point.” and maybe you won’t change your opinions! Michele Bachmann doesn’t seem eager to change her tune even when faced with detailed reasons why she is factually wrong, but that shouldn’t stop people from criticizing her. and so, I continue on.
        also, just because you might be proud of your opinions doesn’t mean I won’t stop disdaining them; and yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but that does not make them of equal merit.
        (also, I link to your personal blog as evidence of why I so vehemently comment against you.)

        don’t worry though, your comment on this article didn’t outwit me! I got what you were saying, so no harm done there. sadly, I think it showed about as good an understanding of social issues as did your slutwalk piece. but you won’t change your opinions so it seems like a waste of time to explain the point you’re missing.

        since I am not a nice person, I will end by saying that I do not like to see you sharing your misguided opinions on TC, but I do enjoy commenting and feeling better (if unabashedly less nice) than you.

      • Anonymous

         It’s always easy to be cruel when you’re completely anonymous, I understand the temptation.

      • Stefan

        you think I wouldn’t call you out on your ignorance if I weren’t anonymous? I mean, if that’s what you want to believe… whatever helps you get by.
        but I’ll give you a hint: I submitted a question to you on tumblr, non-anomymous, but you never responded.

      • Chelsea Fagan

        ugh yr such a stupid bitch please unplug yr wifi router.

      • Anonymous

         It’s always easy to be cruel when you’re completely anonymous, I understand the temptation.

      • Leah Rodriguez

        The last statement “she tried” was not meant to be entirely sarcastic. I genuinely appreciated my roommates effort to make light of a racial misunderstanding. Her joke exhibited further curiosity and an attempt to remedy her unconscious mistake, which isn’t how a lot of people follow up this kind of discussion. I intended to advocate her humor and sensitivity towards understanding our difference.

    • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      I can actually “see” your point, Chelsea, but it’s written from a very naive place… certainly a POV that is apparently unaware of an aspect of American (and World) History that only people with an agenda usually ignore or downplay. Your comment presupposes a neat symmetry to social realities:  “there are these two groups, The Whites and The Blacks, and they tend to misunderstand each other, but when The Blacks misunderstand The Whites, for some reason, people are reluctant to call them on it!”

      But that’s not really it:   Blacks happen to be at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder in America, and that’s primarily because A) they didn’t exactly immigrate with family wealth when they first arrived (even poor Jews or Asians, at the turn of the 19th-20th century, might find jobs with wealthier Jews or Asians after stepping off the boat) and B) assimilation is the key to the upward-mobility of 2nd-and-3rd generation sub-groups (see the Irish and Italians, et al) but the bio-social integration of Blacks is somewhat hindered by a lingering taboo so powerful it was actually *illegal*, in some states, until recently, for Blacks and Whites to marry!

      No matter how many Whites there are on Welfare, there are still plenty of advantages to having that skin in America (not the least of which being that all you have to do is put a good suit on a White body to give that body a *chance*, at least; meanwhile, the bloody POTUS is “Black” and many Americans consider him a Nigger!). It’s not a symmetrical conflict, not even on TV or in the movies: Whites are the leading men/ladies… Blacks are criminals/ the loyal servants or side-kicks /the comic relief.  The psychological dimension of this is cumulatively devastating.

      When a White treats an “unusual-looking” Black like a delightful oddity,  even with “harmless” questions, the meaning and depth of Racism is thrown in sharp (if subliminal relief):  because why are there so few “exotic”-looking Whites for you to question about their “background”? It’s owing to the Legal Illogic of Race: if you’re half-Black, quarter-Black, smidgen-Black, you’re Black. But if you’re half-White, quarter-White, smidgen-White… see where I’m going with that? Think about it. That’s not symmetrical and neither is the offense these differences can generate.

      Don’t act as though Whites need an advocate of their own, Chelsea… they’ve got one: it’s called The Western World.

      • Same

        Truth. Thanks for writing what I was thinking so eloquently and respectfully.

      • Anonymous

         I do not disagree with the points you have made here, and I thank
        you for taking the time to respond thoughtfully. I will say, however, that to
        say that the “there are two groups, the Whites and the Blacks” is my
        standpoint on this issue is inaccurate. There are many differences in
        socioeconomic status and social treatment between all races and ethnicities,
        all over the world, and I agree with every point you have made about the
        realities of the Black situation in America.

        However, what I don’t agree with is the need to take people, whether white or
        any other color, asking you about your heritage if they cannot immediately
        identify it as evidence of racism (if even unintentional). I can almost
        guarantee you that most of the questions asked were in genuine curiosity, and
        were asked because, as humans, we are curious about things we don’t understand
        or recognize. While the questions may have been asked in a tactless or overly
        direct way, I would be surprised if their intent was genuinely negative. In
        fact, I think it’s a shame we don’t ask each other more where we come from,
        especially in America
        where so many of us are first-and-second generation. There is so much history
        to learn, from people from every color. And I think the more we are afraid to
        ask genuinely curious questions, the more we are discouraged from doing so, the
        more we’ll be inclined to rest in a corner of ignorance and assumption. If we
        see someone who has an interesting shape to their eyes, or an implacable accent
        (as I do where I live), I see nothing wrong with asking and being asked about
        where they came from. In fact, I believe that learning more and getting over
        the fear of offending and being honest with what you’re curious about will help
        break down some of the misconceptions we walk around with. Think about
        children–in all honesty and curiosity, they ask about what they don’t
        understand. That’s how they learn, that’s how they grow. Over time, we tell
        them that it’s rude to ask, and they begin to build little walls of their own
        preconceived notions and limited information.

        And when I hear people disparage whites for asking questions about heritage
        (aside from never liking seeing the “white people do this” kind of
        generalizations), I can’t help but feel that it puts a negative or bigoted
        overtone to their questions and their curiosity that may not have existed. I
        feel that it implies a naivete and ignorance that should be mocked or dismissed
        (as with the “she tried” comment). But when there is real racism in
        the world, against so many groups and in so many forms, to dissuade us from
        asking these questions or to make people feel stupid and crass for asking them
        is working to further separate us. We each have a background that’s interesting
        and worthwhile, if we’re curious, we should ask. If someone asks in an
        offensive or accusatory way, there’s nothing wrong with asking people to
        rephrase, but to mock them for having asked is, in my opinion, only feeding
        into the separation.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

        I see where you’re going here but your original response didn’t convey this sort of message at all.  I tend to read people’s tones and gauge how I’m going to respond to questions which could be considered invasive or rude.  If I feel like someone’s coming from an honest, curious place, then they’ll get an honest answer from me, but often it feels like people are just being nosy and that they don’t really care.  If this question is being asked in a bar setting, chances are the asker is going to forget everything I’ve said five minutes later.  Why waste my breath?  And the comments about whether my hair is real or fake?  You really think someone desperately needs to know the answer to this in order for us all to “learn from each other”?

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        ***”I will say, however, that to say that the “there are two groups, the Whites and the Blacks” is my
        standpoint on this issue is inaccurate.”

        That was specific to your response to this particular article;  does anyone really think there are only two “races” in America?  How can I take this “point” seriously?

        ***”We each have a background that’s interesting and worthwhile, if we’re curious, we should ask.”

        Uh… when was the last time you saw a “White” person with hair so “unusual” or eye-color so “unusual” or skin-color so “unusual” that you felt compelled to ask where they’re “from”?  You’re not exasperating me by asking me that type of question, in this case but your responses have the same kind of weird, unthinking quality that either indicates a sheltered background or an attempt to imply one.  And we’re not talking about someone inquiring about unusual ceremonial “ethnic” clothing, here, are we? Well, no one wants to be reduced to the quality or dimensions of a body part. 
        Maybe someone would prefer attention for their personality/ thoughts/
        deeds? Maybe that’s a universal need, but it never occurred to you?

        Do you think you’d enjoy having someone ask, “Are you Jewish?” if they thought you had a “Jewish” nose? Wouldn’t that be sort of demeaning to you and insensitive of the “genuinely curious” interviewer? And clueless in a 1950-restricted-country-club sort of way?  Maybe the cluelessness can get old, to the “ethnic oddity”, after years of being exposed to it?

        It’s the *privilege of being clueless*, that often comes through when people are asking these supposedly “genuinely curious” questions,  that can be so  irritating.

        Also: again: please. The White People of the World don’t need your help here, Chelsea.  They are *never* asked these kind of questions about their body parts.

      • Anonymous

        Perhaps it stems from the fact that I am asked where I come from every day, if not for my implacable accent, then for my red hair (a huge rarity in France) and my very American facial features. People know I’m not French before I open my mouth. They ask me questions, sometimes probing, sometimes gentle.

        And yes, there are many white people with interesting features or unusual traits, both physical and in mannerism, that lead people to wonder where they come from. This is true of all countries I’ve been in, most true, perhaps, in America. Someone with extremely Nordic features, a highly Eastern European facial structure, ice-blonde hair and stark blue eyes, etc, are all qualities that have made me wonder (if not always verbalize) the person’s heritage. Believe it or not, there actually is a white American “look” that is rather easy for people to identify outside of the country. There are many white people who don’t share it.

        And where I live, there are many “white” groups that are ostracized or judged, like the Portuguese, the Turkish, the Jews, the Greeks, etc. But not by all. I see people of all colors being asked these questions all the time, and so perhaps it does not shock or surprise me in the same way it does you. It does not, for me, carry implications of racism or intolerance from the asker.

        Just as you can claim my responses are ignorant, your claim about white people *never* being asked these questions about their body seems equally narrow. It’s not true in America, and it’s most certainly not true around the world.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Chelsea, are you being deliberately obtuse? 

        “Believe it or not, there actually is a white American “look” that is
        rather easy for people to identify outside of the country. There are
        many white people who don’t share it.”

        It’s the clothes, Chelsea. The body-language and the clothes.

        I’ve lived in Germany for 20 years and you clearly do *not* know what you’re talking about.

      • Anonymous

        You know, it’s funny, I have people in America ask me all the time if I’m part-Asian, because of my small, near-black, almond-shaped eyes. In France it happens more, but not always after they hear my accent. I have simply never thought anything of it, other than that they genuinely wondered if I was.

        I disagree about the clothes, the body language I am not sure if I could distinguish or not.

         You think that my experience in both of my countries and perspective on them is invalid, you think that I do not know what I am talking about, and you didn’t address the other points. So I really feel as though this conversation is at a standstill here, we clearly just don’t agree on this issue. Our experiences and perspectives are clearly just very disparate, and frankly, I’m tired of being called names because my opinion on the subject doesn’t echo yours.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        “You know, it’s funny, I have people in America ask me all the time if
        I’m part-Asian, because of my small, near-black, almond-shaped eyes.”

        I’m sure this happened to you quite often, Chelsea. I’m sure it happened to you so regularly that you dreaded, sometimes, entering situations in which you’d be meeting new people… or even, just, going in public places in areas strange to you, right? I’m sure strangers often stared at you in Malls, wondering about those eyes of yours. Terrible! I take it all back… you know *exactly* how it feels!

        Laugh.

        I didn’t address the “other points” because they’re irrelevant;  the discussion I was addressing had to do with how it feels to grow up as a “mixed-breed” or otherwise “exotic-looking” American and be treated by some “well-meaning” fellow Americans like a “foreigner” at best (“where are you from?”) and a freak at worst (“Can I touch your hair?”). It’s not about seeing someone’s “stark-blue” eyes and wondering if they’re from Norway; are you joking?

        Further, my original point was that this issue is *not* symmetrical:  touching an “exotic-looking” stranger’s “unusual” hair in “curiosity” carries creepier overtones than being curious about “extremely Nordic features, a highly Eastern European facial structure, ice-blonde hair and stark blue eyes”  because it wasn’t long ago that some  “darkies” were exhibited in carnivals/zoos. Or, of course, sold like livestock.

        Your claim about an “identifiable, White American” physiognomy is easily-demonstrable bullshit; there are mixed-Europeans (German/Italian,  French/Swedish, etc) all over Europe; how could anyone distinguish them (in a photo), minus the clue of clothing or body-language, from White American Euro-mixes? The main point being (again… again, again) that because eg, “Black” and “White” are not equal and opposite conditions (“Black” is infinitely more inclusive a category, for Racist Reasons), the “exotic” features that inspire wonder and comment from provincial types tend, overwhelmingly, to coincide with being “non-White”.

        But, sure, be a Total Sophist and mention “red hair”.

        “So I really feel as though this conversation is at a standstill here…”

        It was at a stand-still from the beginning; you don’t understand the article and are clueless in your stubborn inability to be educated about a range of experiences beyond your own. 

        Please, by all means, march off in a huff.

      • Rika

        I really do not want to get into this whole thing too much because I
        feel like I cannot comment on racism  in the US. I am an upper-middleclass blonde, blue-eyed German woman and while
        we of course have racism here and I would never claim to be completely
        free of it, I am sure it is different in the US.

        What I wanted to get into was the part about recognizing “white”
        Americans as such. As you mentioned it is partly the clothes but there
        is something about the general look  with which I mean haircut, teeth,
        skin, etc. that makes you spot an American pretty easily. There is also
        the built Americans have. They are somehow shorter and more square than
        Europeans. I think you can even spot the kind of girls over her who
        spent a year in the US (and that not just because they all went up a cup
        size (which is rather creepy btw))  which makes it clear that it is not
        facial features but attitude, clothes and they way a body is treated
        that gives an indication where somebody comes from.

        That aside don’t tell you don’t sometimes play a game of “where do you think they are coming from?”  when you see a group of European tourists.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JustinM.Flowers Justin Flowers

      How on earth can you even sit here and defend the ignorance that it takes for someone to be surprised that black people need sunscreen.  Get over yourself and realize that yes, there are some inherently ignorant questions that deserve to be answered with pure mockery.

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    Just to jump on the bandwagon, a black guy on a bus once looked at me, deadly serious, and said ‘you know, I hate your people.’ I wasn’t offended at all, I just thought it was funny the way he told me, like he expected I might be able to do something about it.

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    Just to jump on the bandwagon, a black guy on a bus once looked at me, deadly serious, and said ‘you know, I hate your people.’ I wasn’t offended at all, I just thought it was funny the way he told me, like he expected I might be able to do something about it.

  • Jordan

    Haha I liked this.  I once dated a half white/Puerto Rican girl who said she got a lot of the same bewildered questions about her background from people.  Especially the around the bush “WHAT ARE YOU?!”
     
    And yeah, as a black guy I can tell you white people tend not to believe their eyes, and comments will inevitably follow, when I put on sunscreen.  I tend to answer now with “yes this is in fact skin too.”

    • Guest

      Puerto Ricans…we are everywhere. We’re  like a plague. teeheheh. :)

      And yes,  we get asked a lot. I’m actually white…i think…(meaning my skin is not dark) but people cannot explain my hair, or my nose, or my lips, or my ability to speak both spanish and english with a perfect  accent.  

    • Guest

      lmao

    • http://www.tariqwest.com/ Tariq West

      In all fairness, I didn’t really process that I could get sunburned until I did a couple weeks ago, so I’m not that surprised that white folks don’t haha.

  • a girl

    “YOU’RE HALF WHITE THOUGH RIGHT?” “NO, I’M NOT WHITE AT ALL” “BUT…”

  • http://twitter.com/AFDex16 Tony F.

    DOMINCANO!!!

  • http://www.robertsharp.co.uk Robert

    I think the politest way to ask that question is to say “what is your heritage?”  It gets to the nub of the question of why they have a particular shade of skin, funny name, or odd accent.  “From” has the geographic achillies heel referred to in the OP.  “Roots” sounds a bit pretentious and I don’t think a White Person could pull that off without sounding like an idiot.  “Descent” or “Lineage” has unpleasant connotations, I think.  “Heritage” while also being a bit grand and pretentious, at least has connotations of pride.

    I don’t think people (White People, or otherwise) are necessarily displaying any kind of prejudice by asking that first question.  If they follow up with questions about that ‘”heritage” and how it makes you tick, then all well and good.  Its when they obsess over the physical traits that I begin to think that there is some form of distasteful objectification going on.

  • http://twitter.com/Ouleena

    Lol.

  • Anonymous

    As a white person, I think I asked some questions like this when I met you, except the nipple color part. Life still needs some mystery.

  • kate

    yeah, if I got a dollar for everytime a white person asked me why I was putting on sunscreen I would probably not have had to take out a college loan. I mean, come on is it really that unbelievable that my skin can (and does) tan and burn too? 

    • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

      I don’t fault them for asking that. I have gotten a sunburn maybe twice in my life. 

      Now once my white friends explained/showed to me what “sun poisoning” was, I felt bad for motherfuckers.

      • Guest

        I do fault them for asking…she’s still a person and CAN get cancer so let’t not take the risk just to please people’s curiosity. 

        Anyway, people ask me about my hair too…People have got to stop that. 

  • falalala

    Wow, four whole questions.

    • Guest

      Its crazy how people can ask the same four questions over and over and over again…

  • Guesty

    Awwww, man, the ‘NO BUT RLY WHERE ARE YOU FROM’ thing is just brutal.

  • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    Indeed! I’ve had  people approach me speaking Hindi (I’m guessing) in London, Arabic in Berlin and even Spanish in San Diego! When I lived in an all-Black neighborhood, as a kid, my classmates were always sneaking to touch my hair. I’ve gotten the “where are you from?” from every color in America. It never bothered me; I was usually oblivious: I had a brand new White GF say, “Wow, I guess you *are* Black!” when I dropped my pants the first time and I repaid the “compliment” the first time I saw her dance.  If we can laugh at the little stuff, it really helps.

    • Jordan

      It’s funny you mention The Black Stereotype, and laughing at things.  It’s so difficult, even in the face of a “positive” stereotype like that, to keep on laughing, though I try.  I get torn between humoring these arguably innocent comments and just saying staring at people and being like, wtf are you saying.  Still undecided after all these years as to my approach hah.  But usually yeah I just give a little chuckle, enough to move on but hopefully not enough to think that I enjoy it.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        I find it usually depends on what kind of day you’ve been having…

  • http://lifediving.wordpress.com/ lifediving

    I’ve also gotten:

    “What kind of Asian are you?”

    and

    “Asian girls in porn have pancake nipples. Do you have pancake nipples?”

  • http://lifediving.wordpress.com/ lifediving

    I’ve also gotten:

    “What kind of Asian are you?”

    and

    “Asian girls in porn have pancake nipples. Do you have pancake nipples?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/t.jason.ham Jason Ham

    OH MY GOD. K, I can no longer tell when Chelsea Fagan is playing the part of “s2upid ass white gyal” and when she isn’t.

    Re: the actual article >>>
    I don’t mind when people ask. I know they’re not trying to be rude. At the same time, they aren’t asking to touch my hair, a complaint recounted by many of my black friends. That would be HORRIFYING.

    I tell people I am Filipino. Most people do not believe me, but these people do not know that Filipinos can look like any colour in a mostly brown rainbow.

    • Januaryrose4u

      you stupid idiot

  • Tiffany

    I know how you feel. I’m of Dominican and Colombian heritage and my skin tone, facial features and hair throw people off. Most people assume I’m east/west Indian, but I’ve also gotten “mixed,” Portuguese, and even Filipino! Believe me I am far from even resembling Filipino. The questions are fine, though I’ve never gotten any of the listed ones, but the resulting reactions are borderline rude, ” Nooooo you totally aren’t Latin! You’re lying I know you’re Indian.” Really? You ask me where I’m from and then INSIST that I’m from your country of choice? And then the very same people question me on why I don’t act Latin.

    • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

      The worst thing white people can do is question why someone doesn’t “act black/latin/asian” etc, etc, etc.

      It’s just them pushing their interpretations of others cultures as gospel. I find that more offensive than any racial slur

      • Jordan

        YES!  This is probably my #1 racial pet-peeve.  It’s insulting you and your entire race at the same time, which is actually pretty impressive.  It’s insulting to you because they’ve deemed you weird for not acting according to the no doubt negative stereotypes of your race (and they feel the need to comment on it, typically in front of lots of other people), and at the same time reiterating that these stereotypes are the way you should have been acting to begin with.

        Judging by our mutual responses to this post I’m sure we’ve gotten the same thing Julian haha.  Somebody asks us why we ‘act so white’ because of our clothes, tastes, or speach.  The age-old ‘he’s so articulate!’

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Dude:  answered the phone one day (back in the US) : they were doing a survey. I answered about 20 questions in great detail and at the end, the guy goes, in a chummy fashion, “So, ha ha,  it’s just a formality, but, for your race, I’ll put ‘Caucasian’…”

        I said, “Uh, no.”

        Awkward pause. “Oh. Sorry about that! Asian?”

        Nope.

        Forced him to go all. the. way. down. the. list.

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        We most definitely have had the same experience in that regards. I swore a long time ago that the next white person who felt the need to mention “how articulate” I am was going to get an assload of my timbs. Thankfully I haven’t had to get all hood on anyone in a long ass time. 

        But it’s also a two way street. If a black person tells me I “talk like a white boy” they’re gonna get it too.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

         Count me in on this as well.  I hate when people display their stupidity to me in this manner.  I’ve been told I act “white” my entire life.  If you have a problem with the way I present myself, please keep it to yourself thanks. 

  • kaykimkimkay

    As a Korean-Canadian, I can’t help but to raise my eyebrow to my hairline whenever people (not just white, but other races including) refer to me as a ‘Chinese woman’

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

       I stick to the general rule of thumb “if you’re not sure, don’t assume”. 

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Agreed. Also: “Your curiosity does not outweigh someone else’ feelings. Unless you’re five.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    this shouldn’t be on tc

    • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      Because…?

  • Guest

    “Then she stroked my head, gave my hair a few tugs and told me about her Black friend’s hair.”

    lol

  • birdie

    The last thing I want to do is come across as That White Girl Who Makes Everything About Her, but I wanted to say that 1) this was hilarious, and 2) I can relate to the bits about strangers constantly molesting your hair without your consent. My hair’s white-blond and very, very curly, so I get that a lot. Once some drunk guy asked me if my hair was a wig, and when I said that it wasn’t, he literally reached over and started prodding my hairline, trying to prove me wrong. 

    We need to make t-shirts that say, “Yes, it’s natural, and no, you can’t touch it.”

    • Suesolfriends

      I like your t-shirt idea. Although some may wonder what part of your body is natural.lol.

  • http://www.thenoctuary.wordpress.com Solo

    I get that “where are you from?” a LOT in England and when I say ‘London’ they ask where am I really from, then they say “Where are your family from?” London. They don’t let it rest though- they keep digging till I finally have to give out the fact that one of my ancestors who I never even fucking met was from Ghana. Then they press me to divulge my entire family history- which I happen to think is personal information. Middle aged people are the worst for that and 90% of the time it’s white people. Strangers too. In the UK it’s just not done to ask strangers personal questions and I’ve never really encountered much racism, except in this one area that seems to be fair game.

    Also strangers touch my hair all the time with their grubby fingers. When I first had an afro, on three separate occasions some ignorant Essex chav yanked my hair hard enough to make my scalp bleed because they assumed it was a wig.

    My driving instructor asked me if my hair was a wig on my second lesson. I was offended enough by that, I can’t imagine the hurt if it really had been a wig. He then poked me in the head with his stubby index finger and said “What THAT? THAT’S your real hair?” It was some kind of hideous gerry curl at the time, but still- rude!

    So I hear ya OP.

    • Suesolfriends

      People are idiots the world over. Then again, people are naturally curious (or nosy?). I think you should turn it around on these people though. For one, when they ask you where are you really from, you should say I’m not sure what you mean. Make them explain themselves. That usually makes people uncomfortable. You do know that you are under no obligation to let everyone know your personal history. Why don’t you ask them where their family is from? Most people usually mean no harm. Now, as for people touching you, that is totally inappropriate. If they actually ask to feel your hair, if you want to let them or not, that’s up to you.  And if someone pulled my hair hard enough to make it bleed I would cuss them out and possibly press charges. I think it would have been hilarious if when asked by your driving instructor if you would have turned it around and asked him if his hair was his own. He would have gotten the point. I think you should just stick up for yourself, dear.  It’s okay to tell people in no uncertain terms that your body and your hair are your own and you have a right not to be prodded and poked.  Oh, and I’m white (mostly) and native American (great-grandmother). 

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