“Where are you from?”
“No, but really…where are you frooooooooooom?”
Ah, the dreaded question of anyone who is not:
1. The same color as the person asking.
2. Free of accent.
3. Sure what they should claim.
4. All of the above.
Viewers of Mean Girls will likely remember this moment.
While a funny moment for film, a devastating moment for those who are not sure what to claim as their heritage. My skin looks darker than many of the people around me, but it’s even darker than my parents’, who are the ones who hail from Pakistan (not me). It’s definitely darker than my sister’s, who has 100% of the same genes as me, just rearranged a little differently.
Why is it that people think that by asking a second time, in the exact same way will produce a different answer? I was born in Florida, so that’s how I respond. But that’s not the answer they want.
This experience, Ikidyounot, has happened more times than I can count, in equally awkward places, like mid-run, or mid-mad-dash-to-the-Metro, or mid-conversation. I always find it a bit funny when people think it’s acceptable to, in the middle of said activity, ask. Then even if I feel a bit silly responding in the middle of a conversation, I am still expected to (because if I don’t, that is a reflection not just on me, but my culture, my parents’ culture, my parents’ parents, my upbringing, etc).
Third culture kid phenomenon, a new term, explains a bit of it. But it doesn’t explain the longing I feel when I am stuck at the airport, going through another security check. Or the frustration when trying to find a “skin colored” object that actually matches my skin (is $100 really worth it to shell out when I have a million unopened bottles of foundation that all sort of match me in different lighting/seasons/outfits?).
I think I’m just going to start answering: I come from two caffeine addicts.