"So where are you from?"
It's a question most mixed-race women are intimately familiar with. And usually, the person asking isn't looking for the name of the town you grew up in, but a detailed breakdown of your racial background.
America's population is becoming increasingly multiracial, but questions and comments from strangers about my mixed-race status haven't slowed down yet -- and I doubt I'm alone. In a December 2012 piece for xoJane, Olivia Boyd described all the "mixed-up moments" -- comments and interactions related to her race -- she experienced in one afternoon. She wrote:
Some “mixed-up moments” are more significant than others. A few are blatantly rude comments, others are ignorant jokes, many are moments of flattery and some are instances of confusion or laughter. At times these are moments that make me feel so honored and blessed to be mixed; others are waves when I just want to crawl in a hole and hide.
For the most part, people's questions about my own racial background come from a place of genuine curiosity. But comments like "you don't act black" or "you don't look as white as you sound" are often tinged with frustration that I can't be easily categorized and filed away as a person of a specific racial background. "I don’t know exactly when it became completely okay to ask a random stranger which one of their progenitors stepped outside the narrow queue of their own race and decided to knock boots with someone of another race," wrote Kristin Booker in September 2012. "I find this line of questioning really irritating and incredibly invasive."
We asked our readers to tell us what comments multiracial women are tired of hearing. Here are 22 of their responses:
- "Which parent is which?"
- "No, I mean where are you REALLY from?"
- "Can I touch your hair?"
- "I thought you were white."
- "Are you sure that's what you are?"
- "You're a mutt."
- "What are you?"
- "But you have such nice hair!"
- "You're so colorful."
- "Are you sure you're not Asian?"
- "But why are you so white?"
- "You have 'good' hair... what are you mixed with?"
- "So you're not really black."
- "Are your parents still together?"
- "Is that your own hair?"
- "Do you wear colored contacts?"
- "Are these really your kids?"
- "You're so exotic!"
- "Were your grandparents okay with it?"
- "You're not black enough."
- "Well, you don't count."
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