When People Can't Really Tell What Race You Are
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

When People Can't Really Tell What Race You Are

"What are you?"

1316
When People Can't Really Tell What Race You Are
Discover Magazine

"What are you?" Is a question that I've been asked from pre-k to present. As those of you who have heard it before, you know they're asking about your race not your house in Harry Potter (it's Gryffindor by the way. More people should ask me that, because I love saying it.)

What am I?

My reaction to the question, over the years, has developed from confused to offended to indifferent. But unless I get to the subject first it's usually a matter of time before it comes up.

When I was younger, my race didn't feel any different from anyone else's. It wasn't something I assumed needed clarification. Duh, I'm Iranain? Can't you tell? But of course, they couldn't. I am from a small town in east Texas. Who is just going to guess that I'm Iranian? More often than I've heard "What are you?" I've heard "Oh, I thought you were Mexican."

But for the people who have an ambiguous race or lack the qualifying characteristics of your race, we have all heard, "What are you?"

What are you?

In my angsty "I hate the world" years the question would inspire anger. "I'm a person! What do you care?"

But how else will they ask? "What ethnicity are you?" "Where are you from?" (Which is Texas) "No, I mean where are your ancestors from?" (I don't know, get a ouija board and ask) "What race are you?" "What background are you?" These can be decent ways to ask. When some people ask, they have a hint of embarrassment. It's a not a taboo subject as long as I can see you're being polite and that's how most people feel. In fact, the question can end in an interesting discussion.

Unfortunately,I've had bad ways that I've been asked. Like really bad. Yelled across a classroom bad. "Are you a towel head?" "Are you related to Osama Bin Ladin?" "Are you the same race as those suicide bomber people?" "Does your family put those red dots on their foreheads?" What???

That is definitely not that way to ask. In fact, if you don't think you're going to like the answer, then don't bother asking.

But at t the end of the day, and probably till the end of our lives, someone is going to ask the question, "What are you?" And "Pretty hungry." isn't the answer they're looking for. So be fair and be polite, because you're more than your race, but that's a cool thing too.



Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

71793
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

133643
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments