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...to find it peculiar when white people ask me where I come from 'originally'...

(263 Posts)
MrsMerryHenry Sun 06-Sep-09 22:40:40

...but haven't got a bleeding clue about their own ethnic origins?

Classic convo:*

*Person:
Hi, blah blah blah

Me: Hi, blah blah blah

<<2 minutes later - I kid you not>>

Person: So where are you from? Originally, I mean?

Me: I'll tell you that if you can tell me first where you come from.

Person: Oh, er...London. (I am not exaggerating here, I have been told this at least twice hmm)

hmm and double-hmm

The best any of them can do is 'England and Scotland' or something like that. Still a double-hmm.

I heard Jamie Oliver on Friday saying that he's recently discovered that his family origins go back to some Sudanese people eons ago. Surely that's an exciting thing to know about oneself, right?

thisisyesterday Sun 06-Sep-09 22:52:53

hmm i suppose that for whatever reason it is, they presume that you were born in a different country?
fairly ignorant to assume that though, in fact, what kind of people even ask that? people you know?

alwayslookingforanswers Sun 06-Sep-09 22:55:17

DH gets that all the time - mind it's mostly someone else from the part of the world he's from trying to find out if it's the same country as them grin

Mumcentreplus Sun 06-Sep-09 22:55:21

do you look foreign then?...grin

HecatesTwopenceworth Sun 06-Sep-09 22:56:14

Depends. Do you have a strong accent? - for example, my husband is Kenyan. He has a strong accent. People are always asking him where he's from. Not a problem.

Now if he had a broad yorkshire accent and people were asking him where he was from originally - that would be totally different!

Asking based on a clearly not british accent - fine
Asking based on appearance - not fine.

imo anyway.

choosyfloosy Sun 06-Sep-09 22:57:48

what do you think they should say?

I'm not quite sure I get this. I assume you feel it's a racist question and I'd agree with you, it certainly sounds like it. However, you could treat it as not being racist.

But I could tell you quite a lot about where I and my family come from, back several generations and on both sides, I just think it would be incredibly egotistical and dull to launch into all that when I'd just met you!

If someone asked me where I came from I'd say 'Oxford' but if they said 'where from originally' I'd say Kent, meaning where I grew up. I'd find that an acceptable question tbh.

MrsMerryHenry Sun 06-Sep-09 22:58:04

It's usually complete strangers who I get chatting to.

It's not that I object to being asked where I originate from; I find it bizarre to appear to be interested in someone else's origins when you haven't bothered asking yourself the same question first. They always look taken aback when I throw the question back at them - it's clearly never occured to them. It's so easy to find out your family history these days, much more so if you're white as there are records of everything.

MrsMerryHenry Sun 06-Sep-09 22:58:49

I'm black British. Accent as English as can be.

alwayslookingforanswers Sun 06-Sep-09 22:59:07

oh and fwiw - I British as they come (at least 4 generations on my mum's side, and 6 on my dad's anyhow) and I get asked the same blush

PortBlacksandResident Sun 06-Sep-09 23:00:06

MMH - have you accidentally been transported back to 1974 when you meet these people? Do you perhaps own some sort of flux capacitor??

Bizarre...

morocco Sun 06-Sep-09 23:00:09

I'd ask anyone from London where they were from originally. can 't be that many locals.

MrsMerryHenry Sun 06-Sep-09 23:00:24

alwayslooking - I often ask it of someone with a foreign accent that I recognise, because I love being able to say 'oh, I love your country, I've learned your language' - it's a good bonding thing.

ilikeyoursleeves Sun 06-Sep-09 23:00:45

I get that all the time and it really annoys me! I am mixed race so look 'different' I guess but was born and brought up in Scotland. I hate being asked about it because I am adopted and although I know my birth mum is Scottish and my birth father was from Mauritius I know nada about my actual ethnic 'group'. There are a whole load of issues related to me being adopted that I don't like to think about so when people keep going 'oh but WHERE are you from originally, why don't you know, oh I think you must be from X' etc etc I think it's so rude and bloody annoying! Mind your own business, I don't go round asking everyone where they are from!

Sorry that ended up a bit of a rant!

LyraSilvertongue Sun 06-Sep-09 23:01:02

I get this occasionally, usually from older people. Someone will ask me where I'm from, I'll reply 'Hertfordshire' and they'll say 'no, originally'. I may then reply that my parents are from the West Indies but I've never been there.

ChasingSquirrels Sun 06-Sep-09 23:01:07

when I ask people that I don't mean their ethnic origins, I mean what part of the country they grew up in.
So I would answer Cheshire, and expect them to say Yorkshire, Cornwall, or whatever.
Mainly because I don't hear accents unless they are very strong.

HecatesTwopenceworth Sun 06-Sep-09 23:01:11

oh. Well then it's weird. They're assuming you are not British born because you are black? Odd people.

mrsruffallo Sun 06-Sep-09 23:01:47

I think it's rude to ask. My ex boyfriend who was black and and a Londoner through and through mostly got asked this by people who thought they were being pc though, or esp when we were on holiday somewhere where they didn't see black people around much.
His answer was always north London!grin

Why is it worse for white people to ask you?

MrsMerryHenry Sun 06-Sep-09 23:02:16

Ilikeyoursleves - nice name! - perhaps you should turn the question back onto them? And then don't accept a British country for an answer - nobody's ethnically British these days!

wheredidiputmyfone Sun 06-Sep-09 23:02:49

You sound like you're saying that people can only be interested in you as a person if they're qualified to answer the same questions about themselves?? And only white people ask you these questions? hmm

moondog Sun 06-Sep-09 23:02:56

What's wrong with it?
Be flattered they are interested.
I'm assuming you haven't had family in Britain for 300 years?

I am always asked where I am from (as a white woman in SE Asia).
Often I name the African country where i was born. That freaks 'em.

alwayslookingforanswers Sun 06-Sep-09 23:03:21

people are usually most disappointed when I say, errmm England - all over the place, it's my DH that's foreign.

CarGirl Sun 06-Sep-09 23:03:21

I love that my dh and his family have north african/piracy/shipwrecking heritage. MIL and dh both go very very dark in the sun and I can accurately say they are mixed race whereas I am just boring cletic heritage with the red hair to advertise it.

nevergoogledragonbutter Sun 06-Sep-09 23:03:37

because it's interesting.
being white is boring.

2rebecca Sun 06-Sep-09 23:04:13

I live in Scotland but have an English accent so I don't think it's just a colour thing as I'm white. I get the "where are you from" and when I give the town I live in get "yes but where are you REALLY from", the fact that I've paid taxes in Scotland for most of my working life being irrelevent. It always has a "this is a local town for local people" or "you're not really one of us" feel to it although I'm sure usually they don't mean to be rude.

MillyR Sun 06-Sep-09 23:04:21

Why are you sceptical when people say 'England and Scotland?'

Lots of people are from England and Scotland.

I hope that doesn't sound like a rude question; I am just perplexed.

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