Are you from China?

To answer this question right off the bat, no I am not from China. I was born and raised in California. But you wouldn’t know that unless you asked me, “where are you from?” This past weekend when a couple of my friends and I went to Idaho, that was the first time I had ever been asked that question, and not even 24 hours later I was asked again. It surprises me that people find this to be an acceptable question to ask. To have a complete stranger feel comfortable enough to come up to you and ask, “Are you from China?” All before, if they ever, say “hello.” What surprises me even more, are the reactions I get when I respond. It’s always an, “oh” followed by silence. Was this not the answer you were expecting? If I was from China, should I have responded back enthusiastically, with a “Yes, how did you know?” And even then, where would this conversation lead us?

I never, still do not, and never will understand, the reason for asking this question.

After that moment of silence, she responded back with, “oh… I just thought, because you know… you have those small eyes,” as she raised her pinched finger over her squinting eyes. I was in utter disbelief. I stood there frozen in silence, as she pushed her cart away. But although I was vocally silent, in my head I was screaming, “Yes, of course! My eyes look like that because I was born with them. It’s hereditary. I am Chinese. My eyes won’t become magically bigger because I was born in the US.”

My appearance does not reflect where I am from. My appearance does not give you permission to ask me these questions. My appearance does not give you permission to tell me these things. My appearance does not give you permission for any reasons.