I recently went on a training course; it involved meeting a whole bunch of new people. I spent time working CLOSELY with a bunch a strangers – not my favourite way to spend the day.
Anyone at one point, a lady sitting next to me asked me;
“What’s your background?” (translation – what RACE are you?)
I said “I’m South African”
To which she responded; “No but what’s your background?”
I said “Well, I’m South African but I was born in Swaziland. My dad is Swazi and my mom South African”
and then she said…
“No but why do you have such lovely brown skin” – WHAT RACE ARE YO she wanted to say!
AH HA! I knew this is where we were headed from the beginning… and I purposefully avoided it because it’s NOT okay. It’s not okay to covertly ask people their race. And let’s face facts. That is literally what she was asking about me. People do this all the time because my LOVELY brown skin is a weird middle of the road colour that they usually can’t place and I bloody hate it.
Stop putting me into your little boxes!
If you’re wondering how I responded, I said “oh you mean what RACE am I?, well I’m mixed race. My mom is white and my dad is brown” and she got kinda awkward because we all know we shouldn’t ask questions that make us sound racist right?
“Well, what’s your background?” does exactly that.
Don’t be that woman!