There are a few absolutes that will happen when you are Asian in a small town. You will be stared at and you will be forced to play the game 20 Questions with people. The staring thing is easy: stare back or ignore it. The questioning is what really brings out the Jekyll and Hyde in me. I don’t mind so much when the person asking is someone that I will have a personal or professional relationship with. It’s when absolute strangers feel it’s their right to ask invasive, personal questions about my life that I want to scream. I get it. People are curious (read: nosy) or want to relate to me because their cousin’s best friend’s brother just adopted a child from Cambodia. No matter their good intentions, I constantly feel like I have to justify my existence in America. Nothing says, “You don’t look like you belong here,” more than a barrage of questions about why I look different. My mother raised me to be polite so I force a smile and answer their questions while I silently fume.
Here are a few of the questions I suffer through:
- Konichiwa! / Ni hao!
- Where are you from?
- No, I mean where are you really from?
- What nationality are you?
- What ethnicity are you?
- How long have you lived here?
- You’re English is really good! You barely have an accent. When did you start studying English?
- Do you speak Korean?
- How many languages do you know?
- Were you born in North Korea or South Korea?
- Are your parents Asian?
- Do you have siblings? Are they adopted, too?
- Wow. You could have half-siblings. Have you ever thought about that?
- Did you hear about the Korean twins that were separated at birth and adopted to different countries? How cool would that be? [It’s Not as Cool as You Think]
- Have you ever visited Korea?
- Do you remember anything about Korea?
- Do you want to go back to Korea?
- Have you ever met your real mom?
- Have you ever heard about the Baby Dropbox?
- Isn’t the Baby Dropbox a wonderful thing?
[Why the Baby Dropbox is the Worst Idea Ever]