Where are you REALLY from?: Asian American Student Collective Challenges Micro-aggression

“Your assumptions about my ethnicity do not trump my lived experience.” (photo from wesaasc.org)

The Asian American Student Collective has launched a photo campaign answering the question “So where are you really from?” to highlight the discriminatory undertones of such seemingly innocent questions. Look below the jump for more about the campaign and the rest of the photos.
While questions about a person’s background might not mean to be racist, they often constitute microaggressions, alienating members of minorities and perpetuating stereotypes. Through the photo campaign, the AASC seeks to call attention to and challenge these subtly damaging practices and push back against the stereotype of the “perpetual foreigner.”

Check out the group’s Facebook page and website, and don’t miss the Awkwafina concert happening tomorrow at Alpha Delt!

  • disbelief

    or perhaps the person asking is trying to find out more about your ethnic background because they are open to other cultures.

    let’s focus on the child labor in your home countries rather than making up percieved oppressions just because you want to feel persecuted

    • RUWES??

      …which brings us back to the point of this awareness project: you must have included the US in that list of “home countries” you made, right? Because I’m sure your list is thorough, accurate, and totally not based on racist assumptions.

      • wesistoopc

        you look Korean based on genetic makeup. It isn’t racist to assume that you’re from Korea (or have korean roots). Not everything is fucking racism.

        • alum

          ok but i doubt you would ask a white person where they’re “really from.” you can’t honestly say that you would see someone who was fair-skinned and maybe looked scandinavian and ask them, “so, where are you from? do you speak norwegian at home?” as i (an asian-american) have been asked countless times by people i just met as well as complete strangers who literally approach me on the street to ask my ethnicity. by asking where a non-white person is “really from,” you’re pointing out that they look different from what you think of as “normal.” that they’re “unusual” or “exotic.” what this question is really implying is that being white is what is expected and accepted, and anything else should be commented on. it isn’t racist to assume that someone from korea is korean, but it is offensive to assume that someone who looks korean is actually from korea, ask them about it with phrasing that shows you already assume they can’t be from america, ask what language they speak at home, and generally assume that they’re not as american as you are.

          to “disbelief” – are you kidding? “let’s focus on the child labor in your home countries”? so many people who are asked “where they’re from” are third or fourth generation, so far removed from their “home countries,” don’t speak the language of their ethnic origins, have never been to the country of their ancestors, don’t know anyone living there. are you just trying to be ignorant and offensive, because it’s working.

          and also, you would probably be surprised by how many people think it’s their business to ask about non-white people’s ethnicities. like ok, i get the curiosity, but maybe try having a full conversation first or knowing the person for a bit before launching into the “WHAT ARE YOU” question. my first question to someone i just met wouldn’t be “you look gay, what is that like for you” or “your brunette hair looks dyed, what dye do you use” or “so does your whole family have a history of being overweight?”. these might seem like silly comparisons, and maybe they are, but they all are just making assumptions about people based on how their appearances are different from what is perceived as “normal” and reflect the mentality that it’s acceptable to not only ask people (often strangers) about a personal subject, but ask it in a way that states that you’ve already decided that they’re different and they should be required to explain this difference to you.

          anyway, props to the asian american student collective for putting together this photo campaign and raising awareness! this is a really cool project.

          • atleastihaveajob

            lol you’re an alum? lemme guess you took some bullshit major like sociology and don’t have a job now. only explanation for why you have so much time to write a pointless response.

          • alum

            i do have a job, not that it’s relevant. it’s just irritating that so many people don’t get that this is offensive, even at a supposedly liberal place like wesleyan.

  • yohance35

    I get asked this SOOOOO much by parents while giving campus tours