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Awkward! I'm Biracial and Get Asked: "What Are You?"

Awkward! I'm Biracial and Get Asked: "What Are You?"

Thanks to a reader with an issue (sorry, reader!), we have an awkward scenario requiring your advice. (Have some awkward tales of your own? Join our Awkward! group to share etiquette questions and stories with other readers.)

"My father is Mexican-American and my mother is Chinese-American. Some people think I look 100 percent Chinese, others know I'm only part, but sometimes I wish people would just see me for me. I get uncomfortable when people ask me my ethnic background, and especially when they say, 'What are you?' I grew up in a small town where some racists said worse, so I appreciate positive curiosity, but is it ever polite to ask someone this question?"

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HollyJRockNRoll HollyJRockNRoll 5 years
I get asked this a lot, and I answered depending on the vibes I get from the person. If the person seems to asking from a messed up place I just say "I'm all mixed up", and leave it at that. If I feel comfortable, I tell them. I do think its, rude to ask right off bat and I know MANY people who agree.
dani17731 dani17731 6 years
Do you mean I didn't get your first comment or the second one? Actually, I see your comments a lot and often I agree with you. I guess this is just one of those issues that people will just have to agree to disagree on.
dani17731 dani17731 6 years
Do you mean I didn't get your first comment or the second one?Actually, I see your comments a lot and often I agree with you. I guess this is just one of those issues that people will just have to agree to disagree on.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Dani, even with that clarification, you still obviously didn't understand what I was saying.
dani17731 dani17731 6 years
lilkimbo, I'm sorry. My comment was unclear; only the first paragraph was actually directed at you, the bottom was just in general.
biarose biarose 6 years
There are so many people whining on here.. and in Australia we have a little saying that I think is appropriate; 'Harden the f*** up."
biarose biarose 6 years
There are so many people whining on here.. and in Australia we have a little saying that I think is appropriate; 'Harden the f*** up."
dikke-kus dikke-kus 6 years
I would say American is born and raised here. Speaks English as their first language. But a lot of people don't want to address that. They'd rather make lofty statements about ancient European heritage from six generations ago which is pointless to me. I could do that as well, but I prefer to be a more authentic person than that. What I detect in such claims is snobbery and false claims. As most of the time no one is going to bet on the family tree that Grandma has in her desk. I get tired of it that's all. I could do the same being of German heritage but I don't go around saying Guten Tag to try to make an impression. As for lumping in the ones who don't want to be asked I'm just flipping the coin here to see a different side to the story.
dikke-kus dikke-kus 6 years
I would say American is born and raised here. Speaks English as their first language. But a lot of people don't want to address that. They'd rather make lofty statements about ancient European heritage from six generations ago which is pointless to me. I could do that as well, but I prefer to be a more authentic person than that.What I detect in such claims is snobbery and false claims. As most of the time no one is going to bet on the family tree that Grandma has in her desk. I get tired of it that's all. I could do the same being of German heritage but I don't go around saying Guten Tag to try to make an impression. As for lumping in the ones who don't want to be asked I'm just flipping the coin here to see a different side to the story.
MissSushi MissSushi 6 years
lol, dikke... good job on a really lame attempt at stereotyping millions and millions of people.. No one is just "american", it isn't a race. It's a hodgepodge of people from all sorts of backgrounds, so technically, you're lumping in the people who say they DON'T want to be asked..
dikke-kus dikke-kus 6 years
What's even funnier is when people start to brag about their heritage. Ever seen that? It's obvious their just American. I have friends who will go into detail about some great aunt who is Irish, Grandfather is German, Fathers side had Spanish blood, blah blah blah, then the whole thing takes an hour. Then they tell you they know German or some other language like they just got off the boat. Americans like to feel more important by doing that stuff, and therefor when they ask they think they will find some kind of hidden answer, some secret story that they can sink their boring little teeth into.
bleached bleached 6 years
I get asked this question on a regular basis (I'm half Filipina/half Irish). I have never found it offensive, in fact I find it really amusing when people try to guess. My brother and I have a list of all sorts of guesses... I am always amazed when people get it right. I don't think the question is rude or malicious in any way. I think it's human nature to try and classify. I certainly don't mind since often, it's a conversation starter. It's not like someone is coming up to you and asking what your cup size is.
bleached bleached 6 years
I get asked this question on a regular basis (I'm half Filipina/half Irish). I have never found it offensive, in fact I find it really amusing when people try to guess. My brother and I have a list of all sorts of guesses... I am always amazed when people get it right. I don't think the question is rude or malicious in any way. I think it's human nature to try and classify. I certainly don't mind since often, it's a conversation starter. It's not like someone is coming up to you and asking what your cup size is.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 6 years
Size smiley face with glasses? ha, it's size eight
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 6 years
I get asked this question all the time. Sometimes, the person is just curious. Sure, whatever. I usually answer the question. But other times, this segues into completely inappropriate conversation. I'm super tan, asian and born in the us. I'm tall for my family (5'7) and big boned/huge for my ethnicity (about a size 8). I've had people say, "wow, you're so dark. Most asians I know are really pale" or "you're such a BIG girl!" Really? Is this something to ask a stranger? When someone asks me "what are you?" I immediately get on the defensive, because that is what my experience dictates. Besides, anyone who spends any amount of time in an actual conversation with me, will eventually find out my ethnicity. There's no need to ask, because it will eventually come up.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 6 years
I get asked this question all the time. Sometimes, the person is just curious. Sure, whatever. I usually answer the question. But other times, this segues into completely inappropriate conversation. I'm super tan, asian and born in the us. I'm tall for my family (5'7) and big boned/huge for my ethnicity (about a size 8). I've had people say, "wow, you're so dark. Most asians I know are really pale" or "you're such a BIG girl!" Really? Is this something to ask a stranger? When someone asks me "what are you?" I immediately get on the defensive, because that is what my experience dictates. Besides, anyone who spends any amount of time in an actual conversation with me, will eventually find out my ethnicity. There's no need to ask, because it will eventually come up.
biarose biarose 6 years
Why do people have to be so sensitive about their race? I'm white. Sometimes I get asked what my ethnicity/background and I don't care! I just tell them. Why the hell does it matter?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Dani, before you rudely assume that my comment meant one thing, you should read the comment above mine that bashes Americans for starting conversations with/asking questions of others. And, I am often asked about my heritage, and no, it doesn't bother me. I'm not sure why you chose to single me out, but if you are concerned about rudeness, you should think twice before singling someone out again, even though others have expressed similar opinions.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 6 years
Dani, before you rudely assume that my comment meant one thing, you should read the comment above mine that bashes Americans for starting conversations with/asking questions of others. And, I am often asked about my heritage, and no, it doesn't bother me.I'm not sure why you chose to single me out, but if you are concerned about rudeness, you should think twice before singling someone out again, even though others have expressed similar opinions.
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