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  #51  
Old 07-13-2009, 03:32 PM
Green Bean Green Bean is offline
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Don't mean to single you out, Green Bean, because I really don't know your situation. I just want to point out that until you know someone fairly well that this can be a really insensitive question, even when it's not intended as such.
No offense taken. I certainly don't walk up to people and demand to know "what they are." Doesn't mean that I'm not curious. I just pay attention to clues, and if there is a good conversational opening, I'll ask. I've found people are very amenable to talking about it (and giving me a geography lesson!) if approached like that.
  #52  
Old 07-13-2009, 04:29 PM
lonestar88 lonestar88 is offline
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Don't mean to single you out, Green Bean, because I really don't know your situation. I just want to point out that until you know someone fairly well that this can be a really insensitive question, even when it's not intended as such.
Well, when I lived in Hawaii it was a common question, no one there takes offense. Of course Hawaii is one of the few states where Asians are not the minority. Most Asians in Hawaii are actually proud of their heritage. Here in Texas, the only people that ask me are other Asians, sometimes Hispanic or Black, never White. I don't take offense, I don't see what the big deal is. I am American, but Chinese is part of who I am, so is Indonesian and Italian.
  #53  
Old 07-13-2009, 04:44 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Originally Posted by HazelNutCoffee View Post
I will say this - as an Asian American it irks me when someone asks me, "Where are you from?" and I say I'm from Chicago or the US and then they insist, "No, where are you REALLY from?" or some variant, like I'm trying to falsely pass myself off as American. Yes, I'm REALLY from the US. Go away.

This isn't directed at any one person in the thread, but it's a common complaint of a lot of Asian Americans, so I thought I'd just throw it out there.
Oh, preach it, sister. I have been getting precisely the same question all my life... because I'm an olive-complexioned Sicilian who looks Arab. I've been asked if I speak English, and been scolded by strangers that "you people" are ruining this country, and to go back where I came from. My ancestry in America, incidentally, goes back to the 1720s and includes Revolutionary War veterans.
  #54  
Old 07-13-2009, 05:05 PM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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Originally Posted by lonestar88 View Post
Well, when I lived in Hawaii it was a common question, no one there takes offense. Of course Hawaii is one of the few states where Asians are not the minority. Most Asians in Hawaii are actually proud of their heritage. Here in Texas, the only people that ask me are other Asians, sometimes Hispanic or Black, never White. I don't take offense, I don't see what the big deal is. I am American, but Chinese is part of who I am, so is Indonesian and Italian.
Hm, maybe it was my ABC friend from Virgina, who when she moved to Cincinnati, applied for a charge card at Saks Fifth Avenue. The midwestern girl at the counter looked at her and asked, "What are you? Do you even write like us?" She was born and raised in Virginia, went to UVA and Fairfax county schools, and if you had your eyes closed you'd have no idea what "race" she was.

Maybe it's the other children in my kids Y summer camp asking them "What are you? Are you Chinese? You ain't no Mexican" before they were asked their names.

Or the kids at my son's baseball camp who insisted on calling him Dice-K, my son is not Japanese and did not know who Daisuke Matsuzaka even was (he was seven at the time). All he knew was that the other kids had to label him and refused to call him by his own name. He's very sensitive about this and refused to go back to the camp, or ever go to any other baseball camp. He loves baseball. He won't say it, but he's afraid that there are going to be assholish kids like that in every baseball camp.

Both of my kids were both born in Ohio and raised to believe that they're American, but some people don't accept that as an answer if you're not either pure white or pure black. Maybe it's just a midwest or southern thing to be an idiot when it comes to other people. I'd guess it's a lot better in Hawaii and I know it's not made a big deal of in California, NYC and Washington, DC.

There's a kid on my son's baseball team whose mother is half Japanese. He's got beautiful eyes, they're a shimmering, very light hazel. He was upset because he wanted to be hispanic like all of his friends here in Tampa. If you're not part of the norm kids can get very ugly. I think as adults we sometimes help foment this by paying so much attention to ancestry that's usually so far removed that no one we know was ever in "the old country".

If we're having a conversation about the subject, that's one thing. To bring it up, wholly out of context, is just a less than subtle way of saying, "Y'all ain't from around here, are ya?"

You're lucky that you got to grow up in a place where you were accepted for who you were and not categorized by your skin color or facial features. I've lived in places where it's not questioned that I belong there and in places where I've been stared at, had my picture taken, or "not understood" when I spoke the native language because I didn't look right. For me I was fortunate that the latter things happened when I was old enough to appreciate the experience as an object lesson in what it can be like for the other side when I'm at "home". It's not the worst thing I've ever been through, but it can be wearying to be constantly reminded that you're not like everyone else.
  #55  
Old 07-13-2009, 05:09 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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I didn't even know you were Asian. You type like round-eyes!
  #56  
Old 07-13-2009, 05:24 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Don't mean to single you out, Green Bean, because I really don't know your situation. I just want to point out that until you know someone fairly well that this can be a really insensitive question, even when it's not intended as such.
What if it's asked by a group of people where asking such questions about ethnicity is the norm and considered culturally acceptable? Back in my hometown, if you have a name that isn't obviously Irish, Polish or Italian, when you're introduced to someone odds are very good that person will ask "So, what are ya'?" If you answer with your profession, the response will be "No, not what do you do, but what ARE you?" They want to know your ethnicity. It's not necessarily so they can judge you; it's another way of breaking the ice, just as people talk about the weather and sports elsewhere.

So, in that case, is it acceptable to ask a Caucasian "So, what are you?", but not an Asian?
  #57  
Old 07-13-2009, 06:12 PM
lonestar88 lonestar88 is offline
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Hm, maybe it was my ABC friend from Virgina, who when she moved to Cincinnati, applied for a charge card at Saks Fifth Avenue. The midwestern girl at the counter looked at her and asked, "What are you? Do you even write like us?" She was born and raised in Virginia, went to UVA and Fairfax county schools, and if you had your eyes closed you'd have no idea what "race" she was.

Maybe it's the other children in my kids Y summer camp asking them "What are you? Are you Chinese? You ain't no Mexican" before they were asked their names.

Or the kids at my son's baseball camp who insisted on calling him Dice-K, my son is not Japanese and did not know who Daisuke Matsuzaka even was (he was seven at the time). All he knew was that the other kids had to label him and refused to call him by his own name. He's very sensitive about this and refused to go back to the camp, or ever go to any other baseball camp. He loves baseball. He won't say it, but he's afraid that there are going to be assholish kids like that in every baseball camp.

Both of my kids were both born in Ohio and raised to believe that they're American, but some people don't accept that as an answer if you're not either pure white or pure black. Maybe it's just a midwest or southern thing to be an idiot when it comes to other people. I'd guess it's a lot better in Hawaii and I know it's not made a big deal of in California, NYC and Washington, DC.

There's a kid on my son's baseball team whose mother is half Japanese. He's got beautiful eyes, they're a shimmering, very light hazel. He was upset because he wanted to be hispanic like all of his friends here in Tampa. If you're not part of the norm kids can get very ugly. I think as adults we sometimes help foment this by paying so much attention to ancestry that's usually so far removed that no one we know was ever in "the old country".

If we're having a conversation about the subject, that's one thing. To bring it up, wholly out of context, is just a less than subtle way of saying, "Y'all ain't from around here, are ya?"

You're lucky that you got to grow up in a place where you were accepted for who you were and not categorized by your skin color or facial features. I've lived in places where it's not questioned that I belong there and in places where I've been stared at, had my picture taken, or "not understood" when I spoke the native language because I didn't look right. For me I was fortunate that the latter things happened when I was old enough to appreciate the experience as an object lesson in what it can be like for the other side when I'm at "home". It's not the worst thing I've ever been through, but it can be wearying to be constantly reminded that you're not like everyone else.
Yeah, I can relate, it is bad when it is used to discriminate or categorize. My parents immigrated to the US (Seattle), around the end of the Vietnam war, at a time when there wasn't much love for Asians, and were discriminated against and were called various names, etc etc. Here in Texas there is discrimination in certain areas of town, or with certain people. But, we are still raising our kids to be proud of their mixed heritage, and my daughter is proud to be a blond haired Chinese girl, lol.

And, you're right, kids do tease and torment, if it isn't about your ethnicity, then its about your weight, your height, your glasses, or braces, shoes, hat or any number of other things....

Last edited by lonestar88; 07-13-2009 at 06:17 PM.
  #58  
Old 07-13-2009, 11:29 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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I assume the OP is talking about people groups, not individuals. All individuals look totally different. I've never seen two Chinese people who looked the same, except for identical twins.

I lived in China for two years. When I came back, I actually had people say, "So, could you tell your students apart?"

In terms of race/nationality, I agree with what most people have said here. I had mostly contact with Chinese and Koreans, so I'd add some very generic photos ad comments.:

Koreans: In Asia, Korean children tended to have dyed hair, usually golden/blondish streaks. In addition, the faces tend to be round, as stated. A stereotypical Korean, to me, looks like this, more or less:

Korean Girl

Korean Man

Chinese: By far the majority of Asians. They vary so much, there is no way to describe the Chinese. But, if pressed, I'd say the majority look like this:

Chinese Man

Chinese Woman

Do these people look even remotely similar to anyone? I should hope not. It'd be like showing Conan O'Brien and David Letterman to people and asking if they look the same.
  #59  
Old 05-17-2010, 07:24 PM
kkjdroid kkjdroid is offline
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My reason for wanting to learn is less "I need to know where you're from" and more "how the hell does he/she know that?" Let me explain. I go to a diverse magnet high school and there are a lot of people of all kinds of races. I am in the math magnet, where there is a high concentration of Asians (I'm white, by the way.) A lot of my friends are Asian, and they refer to each other as "Chinese" "Japanese" "Korean" etc. I wonder how they know that: I certainly don't refer to my white friends as "German" "Irish" "English" or whatever. All but a couple of us speak with little or no recognizable accent, so it isn't that. We all dress pretty stereotypically for nerds, so no go there either. However, they seem to be pretty surefire.
  #60  
Old 05-17-2010, 08:06 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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kkjdroid. Welcome to the Board. What you just did was revive a thread that was pretty old. That's called a "zombie." We try not to reopen such, but start a new thread and link to the old one.

No harm, no foul. Stick around. If you want to ask a question about your problem, just start a new thread.

samclem Moderator, General Questions
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