Don’t ask me, “What are you?”

Cecile Nguyen
Austin, TX

Alternative title could also be “I hate the Asian Guessing Game.”
I really don’t mind people being curious about my ethnicity. What I do mind is how people go about finding out my ethnicity. “Are you Chinese? Japanese? Korean?…[list goes on]” Believe me, they’ll keep going until I stop them. And they will get some sense of relief because now they know. I am Vietnamese and no you can’t “tell” that I am Vietnamese by looking at me; I can’t tell who else is Vietnamese just by looking at them. At any rate, if I don’t stop one soon enough with “No, I’m Vietnamese,” I have been asked “What are you?” What a loaded question! Reasonable answers are:
– a Human
– a Woman
– a UT Alumna with a Degree in Advertising
– a Gamer
– a Fully Employed Project Manager
– a Spirited Austinite with a Penchant for Making Cards, Cooking with Friends, and Loving Her Life and the Important People In It
What Am I? Sick and tired of answering that question in particular, that’s what.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

3 Responses to "Don’t ask me, “What are you?”"
  1. ThomasV says:

    “you mean to you want to know my ethnic heritage?” If so, I’m of Vietnamese background. See? not that difficult to answer that kind of question. But of course, this depends on your perception of the decency/sincerity of the person who asks. If the person is a jerk. Just ignore and walk away.

    • Cecile says:

      Agreed. People will be curious and as I mentioned, I don’t mind someone being curious. I have on occasion told people “Stop, please. I’m going to show you a better way to ask that; that way we don’t have to play the Asian guessing game and then I can answer you. ‘What is your ethnicity?’ Then I can let you know ‘I’m Vietnamese’.” I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t trying to be malicious, but every once in awhile you’re right; you just have to walk away.

  2. Cecile says:

    I think any of those are preferable to “What are you?” 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Tweets by Michele Norris