This guest post was written by Ryan Gingery. She shares her thoughts – and responses – to a question all too often asked by assuming strangers.
What’s your nationality? Strangers ask me this all the time. They think they’re being slick, but I’m slicker.
American, I say.
No, but where are you from?
Chicago, I say.
The strangers aren’t satisfied, But, where are your parents from?
No, I mean, like, where are you from originally? Hashtag please don’t say Chicago.
Ummm? Okay… Illinois?
What do you want me to say? I’m American. My family’s American. We have been for hundreds of years. But no one believes me. Because I am not white and only white people get to be non-hyphenated Americans.
Frustrated, the stranger will drop their P.C. act and get to the point, But what’s your ethnicity?
Oh, okay, but what are you mixed with? You’re definitely not just Black.
Oh, my bad, what kind of Black am I? I thought I was just Black, but why don’t you tell me what kind of Black I am. The good kind? The kind that’s not threatening? The kind that doesn’t remind you too much of my darker-skinned oppressed brothers and sisters? You don’t ask them what their nationality is. Their non-white history isn’t important to you.
So no, I’m not mixed. You asked me, I told you. I’m Black.