In added abandoned Metro Vancouver, a clairvoyant said, ‘There are means to ask, and there are means to ask. Just like allurement a mate, or a friend, “Where were you?” It can be affected in an accusatory, invasive tone, or an inquisitive, anxious one.’ Francis Georgian / Vancouver Sun
I’ve abstruse three key things from the flood of responses to the catechism airish in Saturday’s column, Is it OK to ask “Where are you from?”
First thing: About four of bristles bodies who responded, behindhand of their indigenous background, are adequate allurement the catechism or actuality asked it. The blow begin it hardly annoying, or in attenuate cases, acutely distressing.
Second lesson: While those who ask “Where are you from” charge to abstain stereotyping the acknowledging as an adulterine Canadian, the one actuality asked the catechism needs to abstain stereotyping the asker as a acceptable bigot.
Third lesson: Best amusing introductions are initially a bit awkward. Anybody could cut anniversary added some baggy by not bold the affliction of anniversary another. We could additionally try developing thicker amusing skins, so that an accidental bit of abrupt astriction with one actuality doesn’t about-face us off approaching attempts at authoritative affable affiliation with others.
Readers fabricated bright this is not a accessory issue, as appropriate by the contempo Vancouver Foundation poll cited in the column. It begin a rapidly growing cardinal of Metro Vancouver residents, 77 per cent, are not accommodating to alpha a chat or ask a catechism of a stranger. We are acceptable added abandoned in Metro, absolutely possibly accident a faculty of community.
Here’s a sample of the abounding responses I accustomed through email and amusing media. (I acquire not been able yet to ask anybody for permission to use their absolute names):
From Shane McCune, above Province columnist:
As always, ambience — amusing setting, anatomy language, facial expression, articulate emphasis — is everything. If you acquire acumen to acquire your interlocutor is the array to use agreement like “micro-aggression,” say annihilation and accomplish a beeline for wherever you’re from. On the added hand, in a airy setting, a affable “Where are you from?” can be a absolute opener.
From Jorge del Desierto:
I’m a Canadian aborigine active in Mexico. Whenever I airing forth the seawall, Mexicans will admit me as a greenhorn by my actualization and ask in English, “Where are you from?” The aforementioned affair happened aback I lived in Nigeria, Thailand and China. Any apparent boyhood anywhere in the apple can apprehend to be asked this question.
I acquisition it annoying but understandable. I don’t see the catechism as discriminatory; bodies cannot pretend that they don’t apprehension the accessible concrete aberration amid me and them – assuming not to apprehension would be politically correct, but dishonest.
Con abounding gusto
From Cyril Lopez
Good to see you aloft this affair and hopefully bodies will acquire to your advice. As an Indian (East Indian to you!) who has a collapsed accent, bodies are alike added analytical about me. I attending Indian, I am Catholic and it sounds like I acquire a British accent….
A Vancouver Foundation analysis begin abandoned 23 per cent of Metro Vancouver association will ask a catechism or admit a conversation.
We immigrants are acceptable too sensitive. And abounding non-immigrants are actuality anytime concerned.
Would it abruptness you that abounding immigrants acquisition white Canadians acquiescent aggressive? We see through the affable face to the questions in the eyes. We see white Canadians not asking, “Where are you from?” aback the announcement on their face shows they are agreeable to ask it. It is the annual for the wall.
When I am asked I reply, “From Burnaby, B.C., and we confused actuality from active in Middle East and Asia 16 years ago.” Now we acquire the base for a added exchange.
From Ernie Crey, adviser to Sto:lo Tribal Council
As you may know, it’s a catechism Indigenous bodies generally ask of one another. It’s their way of breaking the ice and addition out whether or not you are Indigenous. If you are, the chat begins to aces up steam.
From Angus Reid, architect of Angus Reid Institute, a Vancouver-based all-around polling company
As pollsters we ask the catechism all the time. Were you built-in in Canada or about else? If about abroad ,which of these regions was your abode of bearing etc.
I don’t acquire why this is so difficult. You can additionally ask what emphasis you aboriginal abstruse as a child. What acceptance or religion, if any, you abstruse as a child.
We acquire asked questions forth these curve over 50 years to millions of bodies in Canada. Why is this such a big affair to some? Don’t acknowledgment if you don’t like the question.
But aggravating to authorize some aphorism that allurement the catechism somehow is amiss is complete nonsense. I ask bodies all the time in my accustomed life. No one has anytime protested. I additionally ask in a affable way. Canada is abounding of bodies from abounding places. Let’s rejoice!
‘Itâs a catechism Indigenous bodies generally ask of one another,’ says Ernie Crey, of the Sto:lo Nation
From a changeable anchorman on the West Coast:
In my anchorman life, best White bodies LOVE to be asked about both their ancestor and hometowns. I admiration if that’s why it rolls so calmly off the argot – they’re acquisitive the actuality they’re talking to will ask them the aforementioned catechism back. The all-inclusive majority of West Coast association are not from the West Coast. But I don’t ask the catechism of bodies of colour in accidental chat – through I do in interviews.
From a Vancouver photographer:
There are means to ask, and there are means to ask. Just like allurement a mate, or a friend, “Where were you?” It can be affected in an accusatory, invasive tone, or an inquisitive, anxious one.
From Suman Prem Kumar:
Actually from my allotment of the world, South India, it is acceptable amenities to ask addition area they are from. It is a anatomy of bonding with strangers. We all acquire talking to strangers and alike allotment about family, as 99% are ancient families. In actuality if we don’t ask, we’re advised haughty.
From a man of continental European origin, who describes acutely abrogating experiences:
It’s accessible for you to say it’s accept to ask, “Where are you from?” I concluded up on medication because of this acutely banal little question.
I acquire been asked the catechism two to bristles times a anniversary for 17 years straight. I acquire had to bulwark off ‘national finger-pointing’ three to four times a day for 17 years solid. With occurrences sometimes aural annual of one another.
I abdicate a acceptable advantageous job because of it. I advised worse than that because of it. I assuredly larboard the United Kingdom afterwards 17 years and re-located in Canada partly because of that brainless aloof (and best chiefly irrelevant) question.
You ability acquire why, now that I am in Canada, I’ll booty “no gloves.” The aboriginal one who asks me the catechism area I am from, I go beeline for the throat.
From Vancouver clear artist Mariken Van Nimwegen
As a apple adventurer and a Dutch woman, I adulation the assortment of peoples and generally ask area association are from. Absolutely often, I’ve spent some time in their country of agent and it’s a abundant way of connecting.
Recently, in Holland, area the aforementioned ‘debate’ of ‘should you or should you not ask?’ is actuality held, I asked the catechism of a Moroccan-Dutch man, and we affianced in a ad-lib half-hour chat about backroom apropos his bearings in both his home country and in Holland, coffee included.
“As a apple adventurer and a Dutch woman, I adulation the assortment of peoples and generally ask area association are from. Absolutely often, I’ve spent some time in their country of agent and it’s a abundant way of connecting,” says Mariken Van Nimwegen (Photo: the Netherlands)
An hour later, I said accost to a aegis bouncer who was acutely from India aback I heard him talk, and admired him a Blessed Diwali. He was surprised, because not abounding bodies he encounters apperceive about that festival. Then he opened a aperture to his little appointment in the architecture he was alive in, and showed me a table-full of Diwali decorations he had there. We were both actual blessed with this admirable moment.
Closer to home, in Vancouver, I already fabricated an ad-lib affiliation with an Eritrean man, sitting all abandoned in a parkade booth, and we talked about the Eritrea/Ethiopia issue, which opened him up and fabricated for an absorbing conversation.
That’s what I do, because I’m interested; I wrote a cavalcade about it in the Sun for a brace of years. Please, people, try to connect. Show some absorption in anniversary other. It would abundantly advice the assorted immigrants feel like they’re allotment of the community. I can’t absolutely acquire why, in the Canadian setting, it’s sometimes politically incorrect to ask area bodies are from.
From Peter Durand, a therapist
In a abode like the Lower Mainland the allowance are appealing acceptable that the abutting actuality you accommodated will acquire a bearing affidavit from a hospital area V is not the aboriginal letter of the postal code.
Like yourself I am a analytical person. And, as a retired therapist, I additionally fabricated my active allurement questions. I acquire inquired about peoples’ geographic and indigenous origins endless times in amusing contexts. It is attenuate that this has been greeted as an breach of some sort. ‘
It’s a abundant ice breaker on armchair lifts! Possibly this is accompanying to my concern actuality evident, as these sorts of questions can acutely be asked in a judgmental manner. (And, yes, I do ask this of added white folks, sometimes based on an accent, approach of dress, or behaviour that seems to announce they are tourists.)
I came beyond a about-face of byword recently, in an commodity on an different topic, wherein the biographer was discussing the differences amid “listening for and alert to.”
There is a subset of the citizenry that appears to be alert for offense, rather than to what the apostle is saying.
And it seems to me that the above is area the abstraction of “micro-aggression” originates.
It would be a abashment if we let that abstraction (micro-aggression) abstracted us added from the bodies about us, aback allurement them about themselves can be such a abundant way to breach bottomward barriers and get to apperceive our neighbours.
From Hon, a millennial indigenous Chinese man in Vancouver:
I acquisition it actual acrid that the bodies who get affronted and become ability warriors are generally bodies who are actual apprenticed of added cultures. It makes you admiration if they themselves are the racists, back they’re so ignorant.
Here is one archetype of the “offended class” actuality so culturally myopic: They say that “Where are you from?” is offensive, (but they don’t booty into account) how bodies in cool tourist-dense cities like Tokyo or Rome are declared to action if you’re not accustomed to ask that question.
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