doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Where are you from?

We finally finished our Christmas shopping yesterday. I doubt that any that we’re buying for reads this blog so I think I’m safe. We went just down the road and bought some honey from the local Anderdon Bee Co. We were chatting with the owners; I had worked with his mother. The co-owner asked me an interesting question.

Are you from around here because I think I recognize you?

It turned out to be an innocent question; she had seen my face many times walking Jaimie up and down the road. That led to a great question about pets as her cat rubbed itself up my leg. It’s funny how a simple question like that can lead to different discussions though.

A similar question caused a person in the British Royal Staff her job recently.

Where are you from?

Details here.

I got to thinking about the difference between the two questions. Both, I’m guessing, I’m hoping, were initially asked to just start a conversation. The second one goes much deeper though. You really need to read the entire article including the details of the interaction.

I read another story this morning that I found really interesting. First, I wasn’t aware that there was a big deal attached to being from the North of India and the South of India. The response from the son affirms that things are right in this world if you look for them. Rather than identifying as from either, he replied that he was a “Nouth Indian”.

What a lovely response and I think that it should be a reminder to all of sense and sensibility. (Sorry, Jane Austin) There’s a good discussion about it here.

The best advice is:

Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt

And there’s a lot of background, including a biblical reference, dealing with that quote.


2 responses to “Where are you from?”

  1. Doug, there is so much to unpack in this post. I read it much earlier today (at 5:05 and pre-coffee), and I knew that I needed to think more about it before replying. I also knew that I would be better commenting on a computer than on my phone or iPad. 🙂

    I can definitely see what you’re saying about the subtle differences between the two questions. I wonder if there’s also an element that relies on lived experiences. If the owner had asked you, “Where are you from?,” would you have interpreted it the same way as you did, “Are you from around here?” I feel as though I might, but does my privilege allow me to interpret these words differently?

    Maybe what we have to think about most of all are the words in the T-Shirt at the end of your post. At the very least, it’s this reminder that could have us thinking twice before asking or saying anything. Now to hone in on education so that we can have meaningful and important conversations about issues around race and gender, but in an effort to make positive changes and not perpetuate stereotypes.

    Lots to reflect on this Monday morning …


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