Where Are You From?

I get asked fairly often where I am from. This is a rather vague and somewhat annoying question to answer because the answer depends on who is asking and what they are thinking.

If a Chinese/Taiwanese person asks me this, they are generally asking where I live.

If the person is not Chinese/Taiwanese, it could mean they are asking where I live, where have I lived for the majority of my life, or from what country is my ethnicity.

Note that it is the latter group that annoys me. In the latter case I tend to answer where have lived for the majority of my life or the state I was born in (yes the two places are different). The folks that actually want to know the country of my ethnicity they then ask but where were you born? (which automatically assumes that I wasn't born in the US) I then tell them the US. Of course, this still doesn't answer the question that they were intending to ask because they were not being specific and assuming that I wasn't born in the US because I'm Asian. They then ask but where were your parents born. At this point for me I can answer Taiwan because that's where my parents were born, but there are plenty of third-generation folks who would be able to answer US for that question too. My point is that it's a far better question to ask what country do your ancestors come from rather than just asking me where I'm from because the latter assumes that I'm not a US citizen. It automatically pegs me as an outsider, and I hate that.

So, the next time you want to know ethnicity or country of origin stuff, do us both a favor, ask the question you mean.

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