being a secret asian

(Anyone else remember this episode of Entourage? via)

Growing up looking ethnically ambiguous is weird. My whole life people have asked me "what" I am, in both polite and not so polite ways. So I really related to this video from the Huffington Post from last year. I've had nearly the exact same conversation that is in the video (well at least the first half of the convo). The typical convo goes a little something like this:

Q: So, where are you from?
A: Pittsburgh.
Q: No, you know, like where are you really from?
A: Ummm, 20 miles north of Pittsburgh...?
Q: Oh... uhh, well I mean, where are your parents from?

This is the way people sneakily get to ask what my race is. I get that people are interested and like to put people in boxes, but aren't we all just Americans now? (Well, those of us who live in America obviously...)

I like to say that I am a "secret Asian" (kinda like a secret Agent, get it?) Since college, people have asked me if I am nearly every ethnic group you can think of. And they rarely guess half-Korean. Which is fine, since it shouldn't really matter "what" I am, right? As I've gotten older I get the awkward questions less often since some grownups have tact. Also being a "secret Asian" I get less of the blatant in your face inappropriate comments that I got when I was younger. Again, maybe it's because grownups aren't as cruel to your face as children or maybe it's because I lost some of my Asian flair? Who knows?

The only downfall of being a "secret Asian" is when I get into those hilarious (a.k.a. not so hilarious) situations where people make inappropriate race jokes or comments because I guess they assume I'm white? So then I have to decide whether to "out" myself or awkwardly see myself outta the conversation. Like the time I told a random weird guy how cute his dog was and he said "yeah I like to say he has a head as big as a chinaman." I was like "uhhhh.... gotta go." (Seriously? Chinaman?)

Anyways I've been in more of these situations lately so figured I would share. Anyone else have inappropriate ethnic/race conversations with strangers? 


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