Home » Cartoons » What Would Yellow Ranger Do? What Would Yellow Ranger Do? Shing Yin Khor on January 10, 2014 in Cartoons 10708184 Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F01%2F10%2Fwhat-would-yellow-ranger-do-cartoon%2FWhat+Would+Yellow+Ranger+Do%3F2014-01-10+15%3A00%3A14Shing+Yin+Khorhttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D10708 Tags: artwork, cartoons, literally perfect things we are happy to publish, power rangers, race, shing yin khor, yellow ranger Related PostsMasturbating With a Stuffed TribbleFive Things I FearGreat Female Commuters of NYC: A GIF TaleThe Bottomless Pit: A CartoonSchrödinger’s Cat SpeaksLou and Laurie: A Cartoon About Author by Shing Yin Khor Shing Yin Khor is a cranky Hufflepuff, and also an illustrator, writer and sculptor. You can follow her on Twitter. 10708Latest Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F2014%2F01%2F10%2Fwhat-would-yellow-ranger-do-cartoon%2FWhat+Would+Yellow+Ranger+Do%3F2014-01-10+15%3A00%3A14Shing+Yin+Khorhttp%3A%2F%2Fthe-toast.net%2F%3Fp%3D10708 Dancing Narwhal This was perfect and amazing. Dancing Narwhal sidenote, was the school you mentioned International School Manila by any chance? sawdustbear THANK YOU! (And no, Cebu International!) Dancing Narwhal AH! ok! I went to ISB for high school so I was curious if you were from one of the other IASAS schools, and maybe we knew people in common. Hayley The tags are right. This is perfect. Diet of Worms It was so perfect I clicked on the "literally perfect things we are happy to publish" tag because I wanted MOAR PERFECT THINGS, but there aren't any more… yet. rkfire I know nothing of your husband or your relationship, so I am a little hesitant to say this, but AHHH YOUR HUSBAND HE SHOULD UNDERSTAND BY NOW, IT'S NOT JUST A QUESTION, IT'S REINFORCING THE FACT THAT YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY BE FROM THE U.S. Also, as an East Coast Asian, I always imagined that people in LA (or the Bay Area) were more used to seeing Asians and not automatically assuming that we're foreign because of the, I don't know, the 150+ year of immigration to the US, and specifically to California, so .. sadness. Part of me hoped that the West Coast could be more of a mental respite than elsewhere in the country on the front (Hawaii excluded). C.B.Blanchard Sometimes really good guys can have blind spots caused by privelege that are a real struggle to get them to recognise! Like my husband is great and has really learned to check his privelege and all that good stuff but he cannot let go of the idea that it is somehow *just as bad* for the oppressed to be agressive towards the oppressor. I've made the argument in every way I can and shown him evidence and everything and he agrees with me right up until the final bit (I can get him to go fo 'made fun of on the internet' is not the same as 'murdered raped and abused on a regular basis) and then he just… digs in. So I recognised that part (from a gender perspective more than race, as I am the whitest of white girls). Nicole Froio There are things my partner doesnt understand either about being a woman and harassment etc. It's not a bad thing, he just has different perspectives. Nicole Froio And as CB Blanchard said, it's hard for people to recognize privilege. rkfire So I get this–people having blind spots about the privileges they have. I think the reason why I had such a strong reaction is because in my mind, in a relationship you shouldn't have to spend so much emotionally energy defending yourself when telling your significant other about how you feel about something you deal with whenever you talk to a lot of strangers. I've also been in a relationship when I was much younger where I did have to have constant conversations about race and gender, and I'm now married to a dude who is much more thoughtful about both, and the difference in my happiness with the relationship was tremendous. I was thinking about writing this, I was like "well, my husband is black, so that probably helps" but honestly, another dude of color could totally be a dick about this sort of thing and dismiss as being "not as big of a deal since they have to deal with Y." That was probably way more context on my end than what you were looking for though! tl;dr: I know, but personal experiences make me react really strongly to stories of significant others being dismissive to things like this. hellebore_ It is true. I just got back from a trip to LA, glorious and horrifying LA, and how anyone could be surprised or still see Asians and Hispanics there as "foreign" still at this point is pretty boggling. Denial, a river in Egypt… Dancing Narwhal Especially since he is her husband. He's not some random stranger who doesn't live with her and hasn't heard people have these exchanges with her a million times before. Plus, and maybe this is just me, but I feel like even if she was talking to someone who genuinely had good intentions and just wanted to know what city in the US she was from (like, if they were chatting about their hometowns) given how often she's had to deal with this it's understanding why she'd have that response. osutein I've largely stopped asking people where they're from during idle conversations unless they say they're new to the area, or specifically mention growing up somewhere else, or I'm traveling and talking with other travelers. It's sort of a meaningless question that usually kills the conversation ("where are you from?" "Chicago." "Oh, great city. Been there once on business. Really cold. Uh, Oprah… Cubs?" "Yeah… so, anyway, uh….") and it usually comes up in the conversation naturally anyhow. birdofparadise If I'm curious or need to make awkward small talk, I'll sometimes ask people "Have you always lived around here?" Hopefully implying that I 'm not assuming that they must be from someplace else. mandarinmarie YES! I have recently switched to "are you originally from [our state] and I think that has helped a lot. [Edit: because that is usually what I mean, I live in a place where lots of people weren't born here and I like hearing about what brought them here] VodkaQueen See also: "where did you grow up?" I tend to like that as a question about the personal history of someone's life without the weight of their family origins, etc. osutein As a white dude married to a Japanese woman, I sometimes want to answer that question the way people expect my wife to answer it. Q: "Where are you from?" Me: "Well, I'm from Northern Ireland." Q: "Really? But you don't have an accent…" Me: "Yeah, I mean, my ancestors immigrated to North America in the 1730s, but that's where I'm FROM, y'know. We should go get Guiness and potatoes sometime! I bet you know a few words of Gaelic, don't you!" Jaya PLEASE DO THIS ALWAYS. osutein "I AM proficient with a Claymore! How did you know?!" Jaya I've mentioned this before here I think, but I like doing the opposite, of going back on the "white" side of my family. Q: Where are you from? Me: New York Q: But where are your parents from? Me: Jersey Q: But like, FROM from? Me: Well my grandpa was born in Ohio and my grandma in Virginia, and my grandpa's family came from England and Holland in the 1630s, while my grandma's side is more German… osutein YES. "Would you like to see pictures of my family's ancestral castle in Yorkshire?" birdofparadise i'm totally stealing this. rkfire This is so fantastic, thank you for fighting the good fight. osutein I have never actually done this, so I can't say I've fought the good fight so much as considered enlisting in the good fight but then taken a deferment and studied medieval Welsh history at Cornell instead. rkfire Oh.. damn my poor reading comprehension skills. Maybe consider it some time? osutein I think I'm obligated now! msjinxie Totally generalizing, but…a lot of white Americans do this already. I'm 1st generation Irish – I remember going to my parents citizenship swearing-in thing – and I hear a whole lot of "Oh, well, my great grandmother's from County Clare, so I'm going back to the old country next year to discover my roots!" from people. I'm really curious as to WHY folks do this, and I wonder how it connects to people turning those questions on to people they perceive as "foreign". osutein You're right, but I think the reasons behind saying, "My grandmother's from County Clare" and "Where are you FROM?" are ultimately different. When white Americans (except 1st & 2nd gen & those growing up in ethnic communities) talk about our ancestry, I think it's a sort of desperate claim to roots and the romantic, ancient, sophisticated shimmer of Europe, as compared to the quotidian, boring, oily gleam of modern America. It's an attempt to claim some piece of a culture more fun than white America's. Most of us are mutts, mixes of various Western European ancestors, with no culture beyond middle American (which, until you go abroad, seems like no culture). But when our white American sees a person of East Asian descent like the artist, I think there's an assumption that East Asian person MUST be a tourist, immigrant, or 1st gen person who still is more of a foreign culture (Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian) than American. I hope that makes sense. msjinxie That absolutely makes sense, and is pretty much what I had floating around in my head though I couldn't think of how to get the words out in a way that makes sense. It's just an interesting thing to me, because my parents worked really hard to give my brother and I what they believed was the American Dream. (The first time I mentioned wanting to get an Irish passport, my ma thought I was nuts, "We busted our asses to raise a family in this country, and you're thinking of going BACK?" [Though, funnily, she's never given up her dream of me marrying a nice Irish boy.]) It seems like…how can I put this…Our Average White American ™ is happy to talk shit about America but they still get really defensive when people they see as outsiders come here. I'm sure most of the people who do this are more clueless than malevolent, but I am disinclined to give those folks a pass due to ignorance. msjinxie ANYWAY that's me rambling about a subject I'm interested in but clearly can't be eloquent on so it's time for me to shut it and read people who are smarter than I about it. :) osutein I imagine it's really interesting when your parents are immigrants from Ireland, a country with which so many of Our Average White Americans claim a connection. I mean, me included. My ancestors left Ulster 280 years ago but I still feel a draw to Ireland and Northern Ireland even though my only real link to the island is my Gaelic surname. It's weird, I guess. dakimel My husband is Irish (I imported him; he grew up in Dublin) & we can reliably expect 'auld country' stories to be among the first conversations we have with just about any Average White Americans we meet. People: They Love Ireland. robot_dinosaur I know I personally don't feel like I have a specific tie to any culture other than a sort of homogenous mix of Pacific Northwest and Midwest/Ohio/Michigan etc, which can feel very odd. It's a sort of feeling of a lack of history. Not knowing what your ancestors were like and not knowing what being American really "is". But it is pretty rude to ask someone where they're from. I did once ask, but she was a foreign student at my university so it didn't feel like that rude of a question? I hope she didn't think it was rude. :( Also, I find it very weird when people don't know anything about, say, Chinese-derived surnames versus Japanese-derived surnames versus Vietnamese-derived surnames, but maybe that came from growing up near Seattle? shing khor Wait, no, he gets it NOW. We've had the conversation several times in our pretty long relationship. We talk about this stuff all the time and he totally gets it. And yeah, he has many blind spots(despite being SUPER LIBERAL), but they get better every day, and every time I talk more about it. ("my husband said" was easier to say for the brevity, instead of "at some point in our long seven year relationship, possibly before we were married, my husband and I had many conversations about immigration and white privilege and exoticism and the concept of othering, and here is a very short snippet of one") NicoleCliffe (brandishes large purple dildo) “This is a teachable moment.” rkfire Not that you should necessarily care about what a stranger on the internet thinks of your husband or your marriage, but I am super relieved to hear this. My black, many-generations-American husband is also incredibly understanding about many issues, including this issue in particular, and one of the things I value so much about our relationship is the fact that our home is a safe haven where I don't have to deal with apologetic BS about stuff like this so I was literally like "!!!!" when I got to that part. Also, even though I was not a fan of Power Rangers, I always deeply appreciated Thuy Trang as the Yellow Power Ranger because she was the other Vietnamese person I could point to on the TV so I still appreciated this shout out. RIP, Thuy. osutein I had no idea Thuy Trang passed away (12 years ago, I see). That's so sad. sawdustbear And we have different privileges too! I was raised in a middle-to-upper-middle class family my entire life, he had far more ups and downs. I had a wonderful liberal arts education, he's been working since he was 18. I mean, I guess we all know that relationships are far more complex than just one pithy moment of "here's an unsympathetic thing he said once." I wasn't really a fan of the Power Rangers either, but I was super into seeing an Asian woman on screen! I was super sad to find out that Thuy Trang passed away(I'd known at the time, but was reminded when doing cursory research for this). rkfire I mean, I guess we all know that relationships are far more complex than just one pithy moment of "here's an unsympathetic thing he said once." Yeah! Sorry if I was being obnoxious. I was feeling for you, whether you asked for it or not. ^^; sawdustbear Oh no, I totally understood your intention! <3 Doctor Jay I don't know, I think we do better than in some parts of the country. But better isn't the same thing as perfect. I've had workplaces that were probably at least 50% asian. It's different then. I had a friend in college (in the stone age in Seattle) who was 3rd gen Japanese-American. He went off to grad school in the plains somewhere – Kansas or Iowa or Nebraska – and came back full of stories like Shing Yin's. The best was, "Where are you from?" "Oregon". In this case, it was completely accurate. rkfire Yeah, I think California is better (e.g. I was tickled when the online P&P remake cast had such a huge Asian contingent, because, CA, DUH) but I guess I had imagined that the ignorance was less of the basic "where are you from?" and more.. I don't know, complicated. ETA: "Gee, I can't tell the difference between Cambodian and Vietnamese stuff?" Whatever Asian Ignorance 102 is, I guess. robot_dinosaur One of my coworkers at a hardware/software company would also respond "I'm from Wisconsin." If you pressed, he'd say "Madison." If people who knew him asked him in a way that indicated that they didn't just automatically assume he wasn't American, but were interested, or in the context of a conversation about culture/heritage/whatever, he would tell them that his parents (or possibly grandparents? don't remember now) were from Hong Kong. Anyway, he was a real cool dude. monoop As someone who grew up in the Bay Area (and is now experiencing major cultural shock after moving to the South due to what's been outlined in this comic), this kind of thing does happen, if rarely. I think the difference is that there are so many Asian-Americans that you have a fallback–that is, when it happens, and you tell people about it, they act shocked and outraged rather than telling you to brush it off. That being said, it's much more rare. I had incidents like this happen to me twice in the fifteen years that I spent in the Bay, and in the South they've happened two or three times a month. It's–disheartening. rkfire Where are you in the south? Part of my immediate family has moved to GA, and there things that are really fantastic (food, friendliness) and things that are not great (confusion about Asians.) The Asian pops in some parts of the southeast are exploding (as well as many other ethnic communities), so I'm really interested to see how the region is going to look and feel in 20 years. Did you know that the biggest Korean community outside of LA is in the Atlanta Metro, and not DC or Boston or NYC or Chicago? HEYOOO msjinxie I did not know that! Has this also translated to an increase in Korean restaurants? Because I would SURE like to go somewhere other than Outback next time I go to ATL to visit the family. rkfire I believe that the nexus of Korean commercial areas (and other Asian ethnic communities) are out towards Doraville. I don't know how prevalent in the larger ATL metro, but here's hoping that they branch out! KivrinEngle Buford Highway is where you want to go. Start just off the Druid Hills exit and head north(east) on Buford. VodkaQueen I grew up in the Atlanta area, and it has been really fascinating to watch it grow and change! There is also a huge Bosnian contingent that came to Atlanta in the early to late 90s, which is centered in Gwinnett County (especially in and around Lawrenceville, I think). Sometimes I wonder if the large ethnic communities in that area ended up there because they got off a plane at ATL and just stayed. bgprincipessa I didn't think this could be more perfect, and then I saw you described yourself as a cranky Hufflepuff. MalloryOrtberg cranklepuff Canard Grufflepuff? Jaya Grumplepuff rangiferina Cranky Hufflepuff (and its subset, Bitchy Hufflepuff) will always be my favorite Hogwarts house. Abanthis "literally perfect" is 100% true. meanchelled this is so wonderful and awesome Scandyhoovian This was incredible. MalloryOrtberg I hope that your dream has come true, and every day unworthy men bring you tea, just as you like it. MalloryOrtberg And I hope you rest your jackbooted feet on their pliant backs as you drink it. Jaya Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Nicole Froio I loved this so much. roumbaba I loved this. I've noticed that ever since I've moved to NYC nobody asks me that anymore. I'm American, and white, but people asked me this all the time growing up in the South. It never occurred to me to take offense, I guess I took it as a sign that I didn't belong there, a reason why I never liked it there. My boyfriend is latino and hates the question for different reasons, because the people asking have this weird racism-in-denial thing, and I do NOT try to justify it to him. Here in New York everyone's from somewhere and no one really seems to care. /tmi Jaya You're lucky! I grew up in NYC and I got that/still get it all the time. roumbaba That sucks!! :( I guess bf & I look unremarkable enough/don't talk to enough people here for it to have come up (yet?). In Atlanta it happened multiple times a week, not even joking. Edit: I mean, so far people have asked me where I moved from, and can be sort of weirdly condescending when they hear I'm from the south ("how are you liking nyc?"), but so far neither of us have gotten the "where are you from?… No, I mean where are you from???" Lu3 because you're white, as you said, I would think. isn't that the point of this whole piece? roumbaba You are right, and I didn't mean to imply that the problem doesn't exist in NYC. I'm sorry if I came across weird or trivializing. Lu3 I didn't mean to sound that biting toward you–I meant to point out a basic fact that the writer is talking about people who are made to feel like outsiders in America because they're not white. At least that's what I thought. samaraweiss I live in NYC now, and people come up to me on the street to ask where I'm from, no, they mean, where am I really from, originally, from? Or, even better, "Do you mind if I ask — what are you?" I try to say, "I'm a playwright," because I had the horrible experience of saying, "I'm American," and realizing that they thought I meant, "I'm actually white." Sometimes I give them my whole damn genealogy, because if they're going to waste my time with obnoxiousness I'm going to waste theirs with boringness. Lu3 – I had the horrible experience of saying, "I'm American," and realizing that they thought I meant, "I'm actually white." — Oh Good GOD. That's just the crux of it, isn't it? How the hell do people think this way? I feel like the American = White assumption wasn't as prevalent when I was growing up, that it's crept into our society since then. Or maybe my perception is a result of where I grew up, which was an American town diverse in terms of having kids of international origin but not many African American kids. So maybe I've just been unaware till now. Anyway, it's horrible that people subject each other to this microaggression on a daily basis. Dancing Narwhal Yeah I find in nyc people are too busy asking what neighborhood you live in to get into where you grew up. Which I really like, as I'm colombian-american and moved a lot as a kid and don't always want to give a 20 minute explanation of my life history to a total stranger. Dancing Narwhal Not that it never happens though, I've definitely had people say things like "oh no you don't look like that you must be from [insert random country here]" it's just less common compared to when I lived in other places. birdofparadise isn't that the best? i love when people just skip over there "where are you from?" question and just ask me to confirm that i am whatever nationality they think i am (which is incorrect 99% of the time) Lithae The north-east is definitely more welcoming than every other part of the US. There are always issues with anyone not "average", anywhere in the world, but the north-east generally doesn't care as much. Even our laws reflex this, there is a pie chart of LGBTQ law statistics that shows the northeast states have the most equality-based laws, the south and midwest have the worst, of course, and the west coast is kind of inbetween. I always ask every one of my friends about their heritage and ancestors, but that's because I have a sharp interest in the past, anthropology, and mythology, i.e. ancient nordic culture, celtic tribes, etc. I wouldn't ask strangers things like this, but I still think it's important for all individuals to learn about their genetic culture- who cares what general society likes or dislikes. General society is rarely ever right about anything, I've been an outcast my entire life, and I've learned that being yourself and not being afraid to be yourself are probably the most important lessons. I still don't leave my house much because every time I do, without fail, people say something about my hair, or touch it (really? why do people always think that's a great idea?), or mention my eyes, etc. And I'd rather not be touched by strangers. Sometimes being "white" doesn't stop any of those issues. It's being different than the boring average people that makes people drawn to someone. K Casto-Ardern Spot on. I have a different family history/heritage from you but have very similar experiences. The amount of times the words exotic or ethnic have been used in describing me is…ugh. And the "No, I mean, where are your parents from?" question! Ay! Baffling, exasperating, gross stuff. Really really relate to this. Beautiful watercolor bits as well. :) Thanks for this. icebergmama That last panel is a completely perfect analogy, just encapsulates the whole thing so well. icebergmama and to think I almost didn't read this post because I assumed from the title it was gonna be way more literal and I never watched that show! icebergmama and since I feel safe here, I will admit that I STILL was having a tiny shred of a clueless white person moment until that last panel and then I was like *lightbulb*. icebergmama I mean the coffee cup one, sorry M Carlson Wow, that was good. I never thought about how uncomfortable that question might make people. I ask it because I am genuinely interested in other cultures, but I will have to rethink that, for sure. Eleanor I think the issue is that not everyone who is not white is from a different culture. If someone is third generation American, for example, they grew up in U.S. culture. cheekypinky Same here. I am deeply interested in history and culture and their effects on people–that's where that question would originate from me, but I can see how invasive it can come across (especially if you get it constantly. *ugh*) …Darlings, is there any way to conversationally inquire or talk about a person's history without sounding like a bag of cocks? Or should it just be entirely left alone unless it comes up naturally? rauzi I love this website so fucking much paperbgprincess Same…..I want to comment on every single post with some variation of your comment but then I feel like a kissass. BUT IT'S SO TRUE. NicoleCliffe I was all "oh, hey, Mallory, go look at the Yellow Ranger piece in WordPress, I'LL WAIT." and then it was just a sea of "ilup97w456489yar7&%&%&^&^!!!!!!" osutein This is fantastic and sad and hilarious. hellebore_ What a great graphic essay! The part that still gets me is that sometimes "where are you from?" is a nasty other-ing question where the questioner wants to pigeonhole your ethnicity as "other" and even not fully human the way he is, and sometimes it's just an innocuous question that everybody is asking everyone else in a certain situation, like a summer conference setting or a workshop or grad school. Sometimes it's hard to not to react to the innocuous/reasonable situation when you "get coffee spilled on you every damn day" from a coffeecup labeled Jade, as she so eloquently says. Stages! anniekate76 Yeah, I have a friend who works in a tourist attraction, and she used to ask people where they were from, just chatting, fully expecting people to say "LA" or "Pennsylvania" or what-have-you. Then one day she asked this of a person who had had enough coffee spilled on them and who snapped "I'm from RIGHT HERE." She felt really terrible, and so she found other questions to ask when chatting, and other ways to phrase that question so as to not offend like "are you on vacation or do you live around here?". NicoleCliffe LARGE PURPLE DILDO sawdustbear Clearly, I need to change my WordPress default picture to one of me brandishing a giant purple dildo. Jess Davis Fierce. Really great illustrations — I love the dejected yellow ranger near the end! The bar is continually being set SUPER HIGH on Toast comics. So glad to see so many lady-identified comix artists on here. rusty I 100% endorse the deliberately-obtuse answering strategy ("And where are your parents from?" "Oh! Cleveland."). I stumbled across it by accident in high school, because I was at work and this adult came up and asked me the no-but-really-where series — I assumed she was asking because I knew her, or she had a kid I went to preschool with or something, so I just kept providing all these specific details that weren't at all what she was looking for ("Oh! Well I used to play youth soccer over at Washington Park?") until it was clear that we were having two separate one-sided conversations. Dancing Narwhal That's brilliant. I've considered occasionally picking a country at random and just going with that, like "oh yes, I'm from Iceland but my parents are from Panama and my sister is Canadian and I was born on international waters". birdofparadise I do that too but unfortunately often the response is "Yeah, but what is your ethnic background?" or a much more awkwardly phrased version of the same. mrsubjunctive Well, I'm a mix. On my mother's side, I'm _________, and on my dad's side, it's a culture where they brandish inhumanly large purple dildos at people who ask intrusive personal questions designed to determine whether or not they belong in America. And sometimes hit people with the dildos. [beat] Could you hold my coffee for a second? I need to get something out of my purse. anachronistique THIS WAS SO GREAT. AND THE ART WAS SO GREAT. I hope we get to see lots more from you in the future! sawdustbear You will, but the comic I'm working on now is about disemboweling a stuffed tribble to masturbate with its vibrating insides, so hopefully no one expects any insightful comments about race with that one. Thank youuu! dakimel Wait, what color tribble? msjinxie :D Prawns I await this comic with bated breath… anachronistique Well, I probably won't read that one at work, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. littlehuntingcreek Beautiful. The constant questions imply: You are different, you don't belong, you aren't of our tribe, you are strange. So infuriating Laa laa I only ask when I suspect we are from the same tribe. My grandparent and 2 great gps were immigrants, as well as my husband. But I am a white middle-aged soccer mom with no sexual fantasies about exotic asian women. I'm just interested in your immigration story. My question of doomfuckwattage is "how about a smile?" As a teen girl unprepared for the commanding white male douches in the world, I was unable to mention a large purple dildo. My daughters will be better prepared. smeesmeesmee This was so excellent! Great art and giant purple dildos. I am also really into answering the truth in a matter-of-fact fashion for "Where are you from?". I go, "Lewisham", which is one of the less glamorous suburbs of SE London and sometimes people genuinely look disappointed. smeesmeesmee I was in a pub on Christmas Eve that is literally one minute's walk from Lewisham Hospital, where I was born, with my boyfriend and his friends. One of his friends said he was going to "round your neck of the woods" on holiday next year. Again, me: "Lewisham? But you're already here." He meant Sri Lanka, it turns out. My mum's Chinese-Malaysian. smeesmeesmee Later in the conversation, he told me to avoid racism by passing as white, because "I can". "You aren't that exotic looking!" he tells me, excitedly. He genuinely doesn't get why I get instantly furious at him and is like "BUT I'M GIVING YOU GOOD ADVICE". My boyfriend needs to get some new friends. dakimel Your boyfriend's current friends need to be punched in the nose. TeaKirsten I am from Lewisham too! And arrgh your boyfriend's friends sound awful. Meryl I don't have anything insightful to say, just YAY S.E. LONDONITES – nice to have you here! smeesmeesmee Woop! I live in Ladywell now, posh! SE London toastie meetup!? ascandiuzzi Super cool! NicoleCliffe OKAY, I gave you every chance to stop putting hidden lines of code in your comments, sir, and now I am banning your IP. mindy Sometimes, I pause dramatically and admit that I'm a foreigner in the US of A. A foreigner from Canada. But sometimes, because I don't want to prolong the conversation and tell an asshole everything about the course of my whole damn life, I just say my parents are from Taiwan. And sometimes, sometimes, because I am the asshole who'd rather make a private joke than advance the cause of racial understanding, I tell them, in my rounded Canadian vowels, that I don't understand English. And leave. 900ccs Too often I just tell people my parents are chinese because I don't feel like talking to whoever's asking any longer than I possibly have to. It feels like admitting defeat but sometimes there's just no winning. Once some dude asked me where I was born and I told him "Oakwood hospital" (literally less than 5 miles from where we were) and he followed up with "So how do you like it in this country?" rkfire It feels like admitting defeat but sometimes there's just no winning. I do that too, especially if the person is old (I don't know, I take pity on them), or obviously (thanks to an accent) an immigrant themselves. If they're under 50 or some other arbitrary age I've mentally set, I'll be obtuse and say "Maryland." avidbiologist THIS IS PERFECT this is so, so perfect. I identify strongly with this piece and also being a cranky Hufflepuff. Lyra I was once at a festival, where a well-meaning woman took one look at me and said "You look like that actress who plays Christina on Grey's Anatomy!" I don't. I'm Chinese, quite a bit chubbier and darker than Sandra Oh, and with eyes that are significantly less hooded. I smiled politely and said "Thank you" despite knowing that she meant "You look Asian", then she leaned over and in what she imagined was probably the most complimentary/conspiratorial tone of voice, added, "It's the eyes." icebergmama oh my gooooooooooooddddddddddddddddddddd rkfire DEAAAAAAAATH Dancing Narwhal burn her with fire! dakimel But… Sandra Oh's eyes can't shoot laser death rays out of them, and yours can, so, sorry, woman, you're fatally wrong on this point. Oops! AmazingSandwich So good. keristars confession: my best friend is visibly not white, but in such a way that people get REALLY confused about her ancestry. when she says "oh, my mom is from hong kong" people don't quite believe her. it's really weird? (probably because her dad is white, i guess) when i first met her, I was like "you are so fucking cool i want to be friends we can be friends right" and was so very aware of people saying things like Shing says here? and it wasn't important to know why she looks the way she does. so i never came out and asked, though I didn't shy away from the subject or anything. Then after about 4 months, we were together when some asshole did the whole "where are YOU from?" thing and she threw him so many red herrings (she'd just got back from a year in an Asian country, teaching, and prior to that spent a year in Africa) while saying that otherwise she'd lived her entire life in this town, before admitting that her mom's family is Cantonese. I was cringing at the guy's rudeness, but internally fascinated because now I have a little more context for all the stuff I'd learned about her family. She laughs at me now that I never asked. I just figured if it mattered to whatever we were doing, she'd mention it? And I have been trying to hard to be aware of potentially rude/offensive things. So I like to think that my not being rude about her race was one step to us becoming friends, and I thank Shing and everyone else who writes about these things for teaching me that. Also, this essay is beautiful and the illustrations are beautiful. Will read again! icebergmama Yes! I had a few multi/bi-racial friends in high school & don't even remember asking the question, like, just randomly ended up finding out, usually, and if I didn't ever find out why would I ask because that's not why we're friends? juliamhc i want to see more of your work here please! rebeccabrinson DITTO supahcute I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!! Even though my parents immigrated to Los Angeles when I was 2, I get that "Where are you from?" and "You speak English so well!" too often. This encompassed my feelings about everything. I overflow with emotions!!!! Kisai I'm sure when we were all small kids we asked naive questions about race, and if you grew up with the same 2 asian kids up till high school graduation, you probably never asked them again. I do have to wonder how often they were asked by new students. Here's one thing I find very weird and I'm not sure if this is just a big-city thing, but whenever someone who is actually from the country my last name originates from, they try to speak to me in that language should they learn my last name. I'm so sorry, but just because my last name originates with that one ethnic group, doesn't mean I learned the language. I've also been told (by an Asian woman) that it happens to her all the time too, except she also gets people that speak a different east Asian language she doesn't know, wanting to have conversations. And related, people ask the "where are you from/where am I calling" question a lot when you work in a call center. The answer is "America. What can I help you with?" ProfV Pro tip: When somebody asks you where you're from, the best possible answer is, "MY MOTHER'S CUNT". mrsubjunctive Or, in more situations requiring more politeness, "I dunno. Some lady." Pretty Alright Dave SOME of us were c-sections bluewindgirl This is pretty apropos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJkN5HbQ shirleymacp (I love this so much I finally registered an account to comment on how much I love it. ) I'm ethnically ambiguous and always get these stupid questions. What are you? Where are you from? Where are your parents from? And I understand that white people aren't being malicious and are genuinely curious, but newsflash! I was not put on this earth to oblige your curiosity. Vera_Knoop I love everything about this. But maybe especially that there's someone else out there who yells at obnoxious strangers about prolapses. vine fruit This is beautiful and I am so happy that you fistbumped the Yellow Ranger in your mind anon210 This is one of those Racism In Action things I've actually seen unfolding right in front of my eyes in a fairly intimate gathering. It felt like it would be intrusive and presumptive to jump in as it was going down, so instead I just kind of sat there cringing while the target gave the desired information upon being pressed past her first answer of American City. It's especially shitty how it falls on the target to smooth the moment over while the oblivious asker continues blithely on, not grasping that this isn't polite small talk. LauraSookDuncombe This is really wonderful. I started thinking that I loved the yellow ranger growing up because she was smart (as opposed to the pretty pink ranger). And I was thinking about the lack of great female role models, and it hit this stupid white girl that it is ten bazillion times worse for people of color, and I think that I just actually understood something really powerful that I've been told over and over. And that is the magic of graphic e!ssays. Thank you for sharing this story!! Sean This is so, so, so stupendous! I wish I had a more thoughtful comment to make except that this is just beautifully expressed. Julie The fisting sounds fun. Do you mind if my wife comes with us? P.S. Bring that purple dildo. Elsa I laughed as hard as I've ever laughed at the "tell me your fantasies" segment, which manages both to be hilarious and to succinctly, vividly convey the tension between the bigoted expectations of a limited imagination and the idiosyncratic tastes and desires of a fully realized person. LITERALLY PERFECT INDEED. John That's some badassery right there. bullcityfats Bravo! Rectal prolapses for everyone! Heather L. Seggel So so good. I'm grateful that as a teen fan of standup comedy I encountered Margaret Cho's work early and probably saved myself a lifetime of the behaviors described here, which you break down with the same generosity and power I love her for. You can always beat up a Home Depot employee, though–by the time another one comes down that aisle, the body will have decomposed completely. Creatrix Tiara Malaysian in San Francisco here, and OMG yes. I get the "are you from India" variant of this question – my parents are Bangladeshi but I was born and raised in JB, so I'm only Bangladeshi by happenstance. AND YET. "Where are you from?", coupled with "No, you can't be Malaysian". BECAUSE YOU KNOW MY BACKGROUND BETTER THAN I DO, IS IT. I HATE that question. HATE HATE HATE HATE HAAAAAAAAAAATE. Mostly because no one actually listens to my answer. They have their own answer and they'll stick to that. Gwargh. thank you. tiffany aching I love this so much I want to marry it and have all its babies. Heh, at this point in my life I've been able to spot who is trying to make conversation and who really really wants to know where I'm from so they can…categorize me? Let me know that they know? I honestly have no idea. And sometimes I make them work for it. "Where are you from?" "The Bay Area" "NO, where are you from??" "Well I was born in Virginia, but etc" "NO! WHAT IS YOUR NATIONALITY???" "American?" "NO WHAT ARE YOUR PARENTS?" But my favorite is when people just ask me 'What are you?" Answering "Half human, half vulcan" has done wonders for my sanity. Ebontien This. You nailed it right on the head. It wouldn't be bad if everyone was asked but if you're not white, if your answer is not non-white, it has to be traced back to a non-white place. This is why I say born and raised in Canada. If they ask where I'm from (because I must be an immigrant), I comment on their hearing needing to be checked. Juanita F Thanks for this piece. It resonates with me in every way. Except when I say "Malaysia," the reply is "you look Indian." And I smile or shrug… Rae I think I get a lot less of this in the UK, probably because people are less direct and that much more polite. I'm Singaporean and ethnically Chinese, but I can forgive it when people are genuinely interested in where I'm from. For example, I went to a remarkably diverse university, and I would be just as likely to ask a European where he's from as he would ask me where I'm from. Surely it's about the context and way the question is phrased? I can deal with genuine questions, I just hate it when I'm then categorized according to my answer. It's one thing to be asked "where are you from? oh wow, __, tell me more about what it's like there!" as opposed to "where are you from? oh you're singaporean? yeah i love korean food! you must be really into kimchi huh". Anyone else feel me on this? onewhitetulip Such a perfect piece. I am also am from the LA area (please eat a taco for me. I miss them so) and didn't experience the Questions growing up. However, ever since I've tragically relocated to the east coast, suddenly I am. . . exotic? ethnic? My family heritage is Italian, and I have inherited wild curly hair that I don't bother to subject to flat irons and the like. But the questions! The roundabout ways of asking why you look different than everyone else. "Where are you from?" "California." "No, like, WHERE are you from." "…California?" "Where are your parents from?" "Illinois and Ohio?" "But…like, WHERE are you from?" There's a line between "Oh, I'm getting to know you! Where are you from? California? Cool, I'm from Maryland." And "NO REALLY WHERE ARE YOU FROM?" I don't understand. When I ask people where they're from I'm hoping to get to know them, to learn about different places, or to connect with other sad former Californians. Not because I'm hoping to hear something to put them in a category. californianinkansas Where are you from? I'm from Chino. "Sad former Californians" is the perfect way to describe us -may I steal this phrase? I miss Del Taco and In-n-Out Burger. And ethnic and religious diversity. And not having to deal with frozen water falling from the sky; water should never fall from the sky, it's very unnatural. Best regards, Amber Kansas, USA Camilla For maximum condescension, the "really" goes later in the question: "but where are you REALLY from?" rach YARRRR because you know clearly I was lying the first time I answered you… dakimel I find it's a lot less loaded to ask 'where'd you grow up?' to initiate the get-to-know-you-I-am-interested-in-you-as-a-human conversation, than to ask 'where are you from?' Generally it implies that I grew up in the most boring large city in the US and therefore, crave stories from people who grew up in more interesting places. californianinkansas Good morning, y'all! I'm de-lurking to say how much I love this piece; the very talented author-artist gets it exactly right. May I respectfully request more articles from this writer? Caveat: Please forgive any grammar and punctuation errors, my Diet Coke levels are low. Back when I still wore hijab (I'm an adult convert to Islam, still a progressive Muslim, just don't cover anymore), I dealt with this Every Single Day. As a tall, very light-skinned, 2nd generation Mexican-American female without an accent, married to an Anglo from New England, I still deal with this to a lesser extent. I worked as a Front Desk Clerk in a hotel located in the middle of Kansas while I was using my GI Bill to finish college. I have always had absolutely no fear of confrontation whatsoever. I have a degree in Inter-disciplinary Social Sciences, so I find these types of conversations to be excellent opportunities to have Teachable Moments. This was a typical conversation: Them: "So, where are you from?" Me: "Southern California, about half an hour east of Disneyland." Them: "Where are you originally from?" Me: "My grandparents came over here from Mexico." Them (getting exasperated, notices my wedding ring): "Where is your husband from?" Me: "New England, Boston area." Them: "Where is he originally from?" Me: "His family is Arcadian, the group that fled to New England instead of to Louisiana." Them: "How'd you guys end up out here?" Me: "I ETS'd out of the Army to finish school; my husband is still in, but he's retiring in a few years." At that point they usually give up. The key is to be as warm and friendly as possible while only answering the question, not the underlying question, which is "Why are you different? Are you going to hurt me? I heard about people dressed like you on Fox News." Thank you all for reading this long comment. Warm Regards, Amber Hannah Beautiful illustrations! Reminded me (in a good way) of this great video 'What kind of Asian are you?' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWynJkN5HbQ always makes me chuckle – and as someone from England, it also makes me wonder why I haven't eaten fish and chips recently ;-) The other thing it reminded me of was this Petrie Multiplier a nifty graph on sexism in tech: http://iangent.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-petrie-… that looks at why it can be hard to understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of these kind of questions – or more to the point, why someone who doesn't get them can say 'oh they were just being friendly' whilst someone who gets it weekly can start to feel like systemically there's something really out of whack. Kimmy Amen Amen!! Thank you for this lovely post. God, this sums up my current life. I work at a hospital, which is located in a city where Asian population is close to zero. Every single patient or his family member asks, "Where are you from?" "You speak pretty good English". OMG. Kill me now. You totally nailed it! Mirar This is interesting. I had a discussion the other day of the _exact_ opposite problem with those questions; both the question and the answer is weird and uncomfortable to Europeeans, and I presume the rest of the non-US world as well. You would not use the "where are you from" with a stranger here. It would be taken as hostile, at least without a lot of explanation why you are curious about _that_. And the typical US-citizen answer is equally baffling. "Swedish" – no, you're 4th generation Swedish immigrant to the US. There's no longer anything Swedish about you. Even if you maintained the language from your grandancestors, you wouldn't be able to hold a conversation with a modern Swedish person. "British/Irish/Italian"? No. You're Californian. Your genetic ancestry is Californian. Your cultural heritage is Californian. From that discussion we figure that it's a cultural insecurity; much like Germany or Italy, that is rather recent constructs, people try to figure out what they are. I'm Swedish. I live in Sweden (Stockholm). If you ask an Asian girl here where she's from: 20-30% chance she's adopted. Imagine how rude that would be to ask… Mirar Also: What happens if you ask this question of a black person? (Apologies if 'black' isn't politically correct; I trust my point will make it across anyway.) Guest Hey, there I just want to give you a quick USian answer to your postulates: (1) White american people will tell you their national ancestry for a number of weird reasons, but one you will find is that genetically and ethnically, they are often not American. As in, Native American. Most of my family has been in the USA for 6+ generations, but I would never, ever describe myself as "genetically" American. My nationality is American, I am culturally American, but my ethnicity is white European. That is what many white Americans are indicating when they identify a European country as where they are "from". (They do not generally think they actually belong to the "origin" country as a citizen, or really, culturally.) There are also cultural rifts between different groups of white Americans based on historical nationality, which might justify their insistence on using a country name as an identifier. (Just to throw it out there, there are also super racist reasons why people want to emphasize Europe as their origin.) (2) Re: Black Americans/African Americans– Because of the legacy of slavery and the disbursement of the African Diaspora, unless the question asker detects accented English speech (which might indicate a different nationality) or they have mistaken the individual for a different ethnicity, I don't think this question is asked in the same sense. It's not being used to other an individual in the way that it is used against many other minorities. I think most of the time, "Where are you from?" in this context is really looking for an American geographic location, not a historical nationality or a questioning of ethnicity. There is actually a lot more to this, but my answer is no longer quick, sorry! kiwitime Totally agree. I'm a Kiwi and would describe myself as a Kiwi. I don't describe myself as English, Irish and Scottish descent. I don't explain how my grandmother was Scottish. I am a Kiwi. I have friends in NZ with British parents, Australian parents, Chinese parents, etc. – they also describe themselves as Kiwi. I agree that your 4th generation Swedish example above is probably perceived as insecurity by most people except those from the US. joe Yup, I hear that all the time growing up… best part of it, it's now new Russian immigrant told me to get the f*ck out off USA :) goodness… perry As an Asian-American growing up in the '60s I had coolie, Odd Job (James Bond henchman) and the whole Vietnam war stereotypes thrown at me. ligurl27 Love it! It's even more confusing on my side of things as I'm Malaysian Eurasian living in Australia and I have a European last name, so people think I'm making up my name. It all boils down to not judging a book by its cover, because no two people are the same. Do we go up and ask Caucasians "So, which white country did you come from?" John L. I caught strep throat constantly, and the doctor's decide to remove my tonsils. After I had my tonsils removed everyone made fun of my voice. It really got to me, and I focused on my enunciation to try to avoid further ridicule. As years went by my anxiety would come out whenever I would meet new people. They would look at me strange and ask "Where are you from?" I would reply with our city name. They'd always get a look of disbelief and say I sounded like I was from *insert region/country here*. I guess because I'm a white male I can't claim it was racist, patriarchal bullshit. *sigh* Neysa Lozano Hi, I know you've been getting a lot of these, but I need to say it. I am not Asian, but as an ethnically ambiguous hispanic girl, and I have been living through the same thing. During college I was continuously told I "wasn't ethnic enough" and "needed to embrace my sassy side" worse was when a teacher asked "Where are you from? No, I mean where are you from ethnically". As though my being third generation American didn't count for anything because I am not white so I am clearly not from here. Anyway, thank you for the comic, it really resonated with me. The Yellow Ranger was my favorite power ranger, she was a tough lady. Danna Waldman Brilliantly written and very clear. Thank you for posting this. Still digesting it all. Spilled coffee, yup, I can feel this one (I am transgender). Sometimes it is like someone is peeling off the same scab, every day, and then being surprised and upset when I say, "Ow. Don't do that. What's wrong with you?" Shi Most are just being curious – and to be honest this will happen in every country. I'm sure if you were to go to Malaysia or India, and you don't look like the locals you will also be curiously poked at (with words). So it's not a white-only thing. I'm an Indian in NZ. I get asked, I tell. The things that offend me are – oh but your English is so good. But that's because most people asking the question have *no* *clue* as to what it takes to migrate to a foreign country. So I just take it in my stride. But what a great blog! freefall Oh this is such a lovely piece, and I totally get where you're coming from. I'm Malaysian Chinese living in Malaysia, and I get the 'wow, your English is so good! Where'd you learn it from' as well as the Malaysian equivalent of 'wah, your English very good lah! Where you learn from ah?', and it takes a lot of willpower not to roll my eyes heavenward. If I was feeling snarky, I'd just say TV, which is a half-truth. If that's already what's happening here, I can only imagine how vexing it is for you every day. bastardsnow I'm super late to this, and I'm actually really wondering whether this isn't just a racial thing, but also a gender one. I'm a half-Chinese guy (and I look it), and while I've had the occasional "Where are you from?" (which I answer truthfully with either New York where I was born or the DC area where I've lived for the past almost-30-years) I basically haven't gotten any pushback on it since one dumbass in elementary school. And now I really want to ask my sister (who looks even more Chinese than I do) how much she gets asked this, and what her answer is and what that's been like. Anyway, awesome, awesome piece. baby_crow I don't know how I missed this piece. I LOVE IT. the moment I realized I don't owe anyone an answer to this invasive, othering question was one of the most liberating moments of my life. that said, I don't think I will ever stop being asked. and yes, I got asked when I was abroad, too– I am ambiguously brown such that I either blend in quite well in any number of brown nations, or stand out as an obvious other. but it felt a lot different to be asked in a country that I was only visiting, than it has to be asked in the place I've lived my entire life, where the question is inherently racial. I actually do have a really interesting family history, but my stance is that no one nosy enough to feel entitled to the information deserves to know it. I will not invite that "yer so cool and different" bullshit. so I give them the abbreviated, boring answer, in a tone that does not invite further interrogation. to those who do not ask, I often end up telling them myself– which is totally different– an act of proclamation. (halfrican, blasian, mixed, black, trinidadian.) fun times with exotification. Cam love it. As an adopted Taiwanese girl living in the southwest and often mistaken for latina, I get the where are you from question a lot. sometimes it pisses me off and sometimes I enjoy answering the question they are asking (where are you from, where are your parents from, what are your parents' ethnic background) but not what they are really trying to ask. it's not weird when, I know the person and we are friends, that's just part of learning about each other. But if you're a stranger why do you need to know? anyway, I was in college before I realized that other people got this question a lot too, and it was so good just to know that it wasn't just my experience. so thanks for this amazing piece. Diana Luzuriaga I don't know about you guys, but I'm never offended by people asking me where I'm from. I understand that they see us asians as "not from here" but that doesn't bother me. We actually aren't. I proudly tell them my ethnicity. I'm a filipino that was born in Michigan, grew up in Singapore and now I live in New York. A mouthful, I know, but that usually ends the questions on my race. Everyone complains that other people are racist when they just assume that all of us are Chinese. Then why don't we educate them. Tell them what you are. Maybe they'll learn. But you can't escape racism. See now, if you try and tell them the difference between Asian races, then you're generalizing and that's racist. So who cares. Yes, all asians look very similar. So do all white people. Can you honestly tell the difference between a Canadian or a Russian? I can't. And don't be mad, but by avoiding the question "Where are you from?" or getting mad at it, I see that as not being proud of your race. Just correct them and tell them that the real question they're asking is "What is your race/ethnicity?" And then, just answer the question. What do you have to hide? You're different and they can see it. Embrace it. You're exotic. It's a good thing. I guess growing up in Singapore helped because no one is originally from Singapore and there's no race as Singaporean. So people ask "What are you?" all the time. No biggie. We answer. ianexclamation I loved this! Thank you for sharing your experiences. spectralbovine All this time I thought this was just an ode to Power Rangers or something, and it turned out to be an awesome comic about every non-white person's favorite question. "Where are you from?" "Oakland." "No, you're from India." Oh, people. Momoko I really love your lettering. minibee I got your back, fellow "yellow ranger"!! FelloYello …and then you find out that Yellow Ranger was actually a dude and everything sucks forever T_T Ehb I've been seeing a lot of these kinds of posts crop up recently. I am an asian and, to be honest, I find the underlying manifestation of anger troubling. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an apologist for crass, race-based behavior. I experience first hand the objectifying of our race all the time. It doesn't help that in America, most news about asians is skewed politically against the 'big, scary' China. However, I don't react with anger. Instead, I've learned over the years to take a different approach and that is to patiently dispel stereotypes by opening up the conversation and asking counter-questions back. This usually causes an intellectual debate and is much more persuasive than using an angry reactionary position which only drives deeper emotional wedges between different cultures. For those who still hold the course of ignorance. I simply don't engage because it's not worth my emotional bandwidth. I've noticed that most angry reactions come from a personal muting of the voice. Case in point, this colorful Power Ranger post. It makes a point. However, what is lost in the conversation is that no where along the cartoon do I see the protagonist provide any options besides an angry response. I see the protagonist playing the victims role and muting her voice and then, as time goes by, all that bottled anger manifests. There are better and more productive ways. Instead of making up lies, avoiding the question, or bottling up all that anger. Why not simply ask in return, "Why does it matter?" You'd be surprised how this question opens up to a more meaningful conversation. As usual, those who are objectified, oppressed, denigrated have to be careful not to become oppressors themselves even though the anger may be justified. We must operate above pettiness and be greater humans…not asians. Walker Just flip the question. Ask them where they're from and what right do they have to call themselves "Americans" when they're so fucking white and their ancestors had to have been immigrants. I mean the real natives were the Native American Indians that they killed off. nonseqs I'd like to believe that people are genuinely interested in what my ethnic background entails. I'd like even further to believe that it's just because they can't put a finger on what my ethnicity, which is fine. Better, maybe even. I typically respond with a genuinely curious, "and you?" This will always open a "Oh I THOUGHT so!" or "Man, I would've never guessed. That's cool" conversation. This type of interaction is only really normal between Asians or other minorities. I come across less and less white Americans who ask about where I'm from. Being a transplant in Los Angeles though, most people really JUST want to know if you were born in LA or not. What I really can't stand are the "Do you speak English?" or "Wow you speak English really good" comments. First off, I'm a natural born citizen of one of the most highly educated parts of the country with an English degree to boot. Secondly, It's "WELL." cheekypinky Heh. No one really believes me when I tell them that I'm a third generation Californian, and that no, I am NOT writing a screenplay. Oh, Los Angeles. Emm This is incredible. And important. Thank you so much for making this and sharing it. K. Huang You're my hero. Rita K. This is my favorite thing on earth.