To think it's not UR to ask what ethnicity someone is?

(207 Posts)
FlobberWobber Sat 12-Oct-13 20:33:01

To me, it's not rude, I lived abroad for 10 years and was often asked where I came from, it was just asked out of genuine interest.

DD is mixed race, my other DC aren't and I'm often asked in a round about way, " Oh wow, they look so different..." then I have to explain. I don't really mind. Yesterday someone said they had been dying to ask me what ethnicity DD was but thought they may sound rude, I've heard similar things said, but to me it's not rude at all to ask, aibu?

mummydarkling Sat 12-Oct-13 21:12:15

YANBU as long as they ask nicely ....

rattlemehearties Sat 12-Oct-13 21:27:27

YABU - I'm not white (one of my parents is) and it's not obvious what ethnicity I am, but it's also nobody's business and I would be pissed off if you asked in nearly every context I can think of. Your DC are likely to get tired of being asked as they get older, if they are anything like me.

zatyaballerina Sat 12-Oct-13 21:27:29

Some people would be offended because they may not want to have to explain their personal situations. A pair of sisters that dd plays with in the park look like they are from Vietnam or somewhere like that and their parents are Irish so I assume they're adopted, not a chance in hell I'd mention it, it's none of my business and I'd hate to make someone feel uncomfortable or invaded.

I wouldn't ask about the background of a white person like myself and can't think of any reason to treat someone who isn't any differently.

rattlemehearties Sat 12-Oct-13 21:29:29

You were living abroad and didn't mind being asked where you came from. Now imagine your mixed race children being asked that all the time despite being born and raised in the country they are living in. You aren't comparing like with like.

FlobberWobber Sat 12-Oct-13 21:32:27

I don't see it as a negative thing, I want DD to be proud of her ethnicity and I think it's normal for people to be interested as they get to know her.

Awomansworth Sat 12-Oct-13 21:35:16

Well it depends on the way you ask...

My dc are mixed race and a couple of years ago, an old fart of a GP at our surgery asked if dc were from foreign stock!

MummyofIsla Sat 12-Oct-13 21:37:22

It isn't rude in the slightest. My DD is half white and half indian and I love explaining her heritage to people! Sometimes I can tell people are dying to ask so I tell them to break the ice.

rattlemehearties Sat 12-Oct-13 21:38:02

hmm My parents don't see it as a bad thing either. But your children will have to occasionally deal with ignorant comments and will likely not appreciate being asked "where are you REALLY from?" when they're really from up the street!

FlobberWobber Sat 12-Oct-13 21:44:33

I think it's human nature to be curious about race, accents, cultural differences and I don't see this as a bad thing. I have an accent that's hard to place and have been hesitantly asked where it's from, it makes me chuckle that people are so nervous to ask.

LadyRochford Sat 12-Oct-13 21:51:33

I don't mind if people ask. Like mummyofIsla i am proud of DSs mixed heretige and hope he will be too, i think its great that people are interested. I would be interested in their background too.

I do find it very difficult when people say DS has a "nice tan" or whatever...when I have said yes he is half Indian people have often been horribly embarrassed and clearly feel they have made a massive faux pas. Do I just nod and smile??

FlobberWobber Sat 12-Oct-13 21:56:05

LadyRochford - Ha! Someone once said DD had a lovely tan & then looked embarrassed when I've told them she's half Asian, I just laugh and say how lucky she is as I always just burn.

BrokenSunglasses Sat 12-Oct-13 22:00:11

YANBU. I have heritage that is uncommon around here, and I don't look English. It's never occurred to me to be offended when I've been asked where my parents were from, it just comes across to me as someone being interested, and that's never been a negative thing in my experience.

MummyofIsla Sat 12-Oct-13 22:01:27

Haha LadyRochford, I get exactly the same. I just joke that that's with factor 50! Or agree that her colouring is beautiful. Generally I don't think people mean any harm.

Doubtfuldaphne Sat 12-Oct-13 22:02:22

I think it's ok to ask as long as they don't say 'where are you from' as that is a bit rude!
My dd is half Asian but no one has ever asked. I'm a bit sad really as I love to talk about people's heritage I find it interesting!

I think it is great to be interested

FlobberWobber Sat 12-Oct-13 22:04:43

My Grandma once said when DD was 3 that she was looking 'less foreign' as if that was a good thing.. I was quite upset by that. You can tell when people mean well, but say something clumsily vs when they are being rude.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Sat 12-Oct-13 22:07:09

Interested is ok, I think. I love learning about people's heritage & backgrounds. On the train home yesterday, I got chatting to a lady who turned out to be from the Cayman Islands!

I do think "where are you from?" can come across as rude though. That said, "what is your heritage?" can sound a bit nobby and deliberately PC! I haven't found the solution yet, so I just wait for it to crop up in conversation.

eggyweggies Sat 12-Oct-13 22:07:13

I think it's rude if it's done in a rude way <helpful>

People generally volunteer this info as you're getting to know them. I've never had to ask outright.

Asking a complete or near-stranger is rude, yes.

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Sat 12-Oct-13 22:08:12

Forgot to mention that I'm quite often asked where we're from as our surname is Italian. Sadly we're about as British as it gets and the surname is just because DH's grandfather was Italian!

ChanelTunel Sat 12-Oct-13 22:10:46

I have a foreign surname that people always ask about. Should I be offended? It's going to reach the point where no-one's allowed to show any interest in anyone's differences,which I think is a shame.

steppemum Sat 12-Oct-13 22:16:58

my surname is dutch and I often get asked, usually in a nice way. I don't mind.

Had a funny conversation with a mixed race friend the other day about just this.

She is often asked where are you from? she says I'm from EnglishTown.
No, but where are you from REALLY?
Well, REALLY I am from EnglishTown

....OH...do you mean why is my skin brown.....

So yes I think it is a bit rude actually

I see nothing wrong in asking about someone's heritage.

southeastdweller Sat 12-Oct-13 22:31:48

I get it a lots from people who I've just met. I bristle but always cave in because I think it's rude, though not as you get to know someone. It's a cultural thing, I've noticed - it's always foreign people who ask and never, ever other Brits, though I bet they wonder.

So southeast. Where are you from? wink

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