Where are you from? Like, really from?

Posted by Schema Magazine & filed under But Where are You Really From?, Uncategorized.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic
Photo courtesy of National Geographic

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NPR’s Race Card Project delves into the depths of uncomfortable conversations about ethnicity, skin colour and of course the R-word — race.

Yesterday, NPR tackled the question that Schema has long grappled with: “But where are you really from?”

NPR shares the story of 27-year old Alex Sugiura, who, along with his his brother, was featured in the October issue of National Geographic which tackled the “new” reality of mixed race America.

“Sugiura, 27, is the child of a first-generation Japanese immigrant father and a Jewish mother of Eastern European descent. Sugiura’s brother Max looks more identifiably Asian, but when people meet Alex, they’re often not satisfied to hear that he’s from Brooklyn.”

Those who ask BWAYRF don’t realize that they are simply trying to pin your skin colour to a convenient coordinate on a map. It’s an uncomfortable question for those answering and can often reveal privilege enjoyed by those asking — they likely are rarely on the receiving end.

But Sugiura sees it as a reminder:

“And while the question felt laden with tension, the outcome of the encounter surprised everyone. But the experience was a reminder, Sugiura says, of the unfortunate reality that one must assume the worst in this country when it comes to questions based on the color of one’s skin.”

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