It made me think back to growing up and living in California most of my life. These conversations are so commonplace to many of us who don't appear decidedly white. One of my best friends from high school is of Jewish and Filipino ancestry and has had Chinese-directed racial slurs yelled at him. Another good friend from college is straight up Guatemalan, but has definitely been asked about his Jewish heritage.
My own ethnic ambiguity has been up for debate much less since moving to Washington. Maybe people just keep to themselves more up here, or maybe the Pacific Northwest winters have made me pasty. Either way, you'll hear no complaints from this half-breed introvert.
But, just for chuckles, here are some actual conversations I've had with curious, nosy, and/or entitled strangers:
Imbecile: Are you Hindi?
Me: That's a language.
Imbecile: Are you Islam?
Me: That's a religion.
Imbecile: Are you Mexican?
Me: The odds are in your favor given my perpetual tan and that Latinos out-number white people in California, but nope.
Imbecile: So, where are you from?
Imbecile: No, but like, where?
Me: Southern California. (Read: I know what you're getting at, but I am in no way obligated to share this information. Plus, I'm really only in this to see how long it takes to get to, "Well, what kind of brown are you?")
Imbecile: But, where is your family from?
Me: My mom is a white chick from California of Northern and Eastern European ancestry. My dad immigrated from Pakistan in the 80's and his parents were from India.
Imbecile: (Triumphant) I knew it!
Me: You mean what I just told you?
Imbecile: So, do you speak Arabic?
Imbecile: But, you're Middle Eastern.
Me: Negative. Pakistan is part of South Asia and they speak Urdu, which written resembles Arabic and Farsi, but spoken sounds like Hindi.
Imbecile: So, like Sanskrit?
Me: No. Namaste.
Okay, maybe I didn't say namaste.
Keep on keeping on,