“Where are you from?” My first answer is the correct answer.
Before I go deeper: I believe I’m a citizen of the world but sadly we have been divided by borders.
Many of us have heard the question while traveling: “Where are you from?” Some give an answer and aren’t questioned more, others like me must explain why we do not look like the stereotypical person.
Update: The United States is a melting pot.
I was born in the United States but my parents were born in Dominican Republic, because of my ethnic background the answer that most people are looking for is “I’m from (Latin American country.)” I always end up explaining “My parents are from Dominican Republic” and somehow people’s faces are relief of the question asked after I give them this information.
Do not get me wrong, I’m proud of my Latin roots but the reason why I’m writing about this is that it comes into play when you always must explain your place of birth and why you look different than what they expect. Do I have to always wear a shirt with an American flag and a hat that says, “Make America Great Again” for some people to believe my nationality?
In 2018, I was backpacking through Canada when the question came to light to a new friend at a bar: “Where are you from?” she answered “Germany.” She did not understand why the guy followed the question with “No, but where are you originally from?” as I saw the girl’s face confused, I actually turn to her and said, “He wants to know what type of Asian are you.”
In 2019, I was in Spain when this delightful conversation came up again, a guy from Venezuela asked me this question in Spanish “¿de dónde eres?” I answered and was ready to give the scripted follow-up answer. He had the audacity to say that I’m not American but Dominican because of my parents. Now, I will not get deep into this but if we go by parent’s birthplace then there’s no nationalities in the American Continent unless you’re the true Native as in some place in your family tree your ancestors were born in another nation.
I would like to point out that I do ask this question on some occasions, but only to learn If I have been to their place or is one of my must visit places. I have never questioned the person’s answer. I believe that we still have work to do when it comes to stereotypes. I mean, it is almost 2022.
My nationality has come in conversations since a young age. Therefore, after constantly having to explain yourself to others it gets to a point that you physically and mentally dread that question once you hear it.
They say ignorance is a bliss, but not for the receiving end.