For awhile, this post has bounced around in my head. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard this question. I thought that this is a good opportunity to discuss some of the common, possible contexts.
So…Where Are You From?
To keep things simple, I’d like to offer two contrasting examples.
Recently, I was able to attend in-person church service. After the service, we had our coffee hour and I was able to catch up with a few parishioners that I hadn’t talked in awhile. I discussed my persistent, pre-pandemic travel issues within the background of another parishioner discussing a possible trip in Canada. As I explained my situation, one of them asked,
“So were you born here?”
I was not only born in Detroit but I have pretty solidly had a passport, since I was seventeen. This later loosely related to discussing my issue with the National Driver Registry (Medium). In this way, both my respective travel and driver’s license issues make even less sense (to them).
Then, there is a group of examples from my time in the call center. I remember two statements from two separate calls:
For many reasons not limited to my ability on the phone, these comments didn’t disturb my flow. In my head, I tried to make sense of these statements. Clearly, they thought that these statements were “ okay.” More importantly, I think that they were more about trying to make sense of me within the world that they knew.
Having A Chameleon Face
As far as I can remember, I have a face that (unintentionally) “passes.” The first time that stood out was, when I was about 12 and visiting Camp Dearborn with my family. I was away from my family and some older kids approached. They kept asking “ Where are you from?” At that time and at that age, I didn’t know what they meant. One of them detected my confusion and, eventually, said how they were Lebanese and I said that I was Mexican. Due to my features, they thought that I was Lebanese.
Fast forward nearly ten years, now I’m a university student. I was walking between buildings to my next class. There were two older men and one approached me.