I’ve been in Australia for close to 18 years and I still get asked, “Where are you from?” Asian-Australians are irked by that question, especially those who were born in Australia. To them, the question is almost an insult, to the point where they’d either ignore the question or hautily reply back,
Australia. Where are you from?
Personally I don’t mind the question unless of course the inquisitor is being derogatory about that. If asked, I just straight out reply,
And if the conversation continues in a meaningful way, I’d usually add on,
I’ve been here since 1988.
And you’d see their brains ticking over calculating the years. By the nature of my pubbing and clubbing, I get asked that a lot because the places I go to are predominantly white in clientele. To me, them asking the question is a sign that they want to know my ethnicity or race without seeming rude about it. I rather “where are you from?” than say,
What country are you from?
What race are you?
I see myself spreading “knowledge” and the more Anglo Aussies that I enlightened the better. Because that can only be a good thing. They are especially tripped out by the fact that the Chinese race can be found in almost every country in the world.
So you are Malaysian but Chinese? *puzzled*
When I explained to them that just like there are Italians and Greeks born in Australia, there are Chinese who are born in many different places outside of China, they’d go, “Ahhhh.” I could sometimes almost see a light bulb turn on above their head. *bing*
Of course occasionally I’d meet ppl who really know their cultural and geographical stuff. Some would even turn out a phrase of perfectly intoned Mandarin or Malay. And some also know that the Malay peoples in Malaysia and Indonesia are the same albeit differing slightly in culture.
So really, keep on asking me where I’m from because I don’t mind it. But come to me and say,
Are you Japanese?
… and you can expect an evil look. 😉
[tags]Australia, Malaysian, Chinese, race, multiculturalism[/tags]