Yes, you can ask me which part of Asia I’m from. At least you’re acknowledging that people from the subcontinent (and not just fro the far east) are Asians. I know it isn’t PC to ask people where they’re from if the implication is that they can’t possibly be American. But we can tell if you’re genuinely interested in our heritage or just labeling us as foreigners. We can tell if you’re interested in a further discussion about culture and identity rather than a casual toss-off! We’re all from somewhere else, originally, and I would love to chat about your African/Asian/European/South-American/etc background.
I have no problem talking about race or religion or sexual identity. In fact, I am genuinely astonished how few, if any, people over the years have asked me questions about my background (even when I have volunteered information). Is it just fear of being inquisitive or a lack of cultural/intellectual curiosity? Growing up in Bombay we often met people from different parts of the world and I remember wonderful conversations that never seemed inquisitive; in fact, Bombay is populated with so many people from different parts of India and a variety of religious beliefs that such questions inevitably peppered the conversation. How can we live together in any meaningful way without these exchanges?
I was raised Roman Catholic but my personal ethos is shot through with strains from so many different religions, drawn from my associations and conversations with Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Parsees, and Atheists. My travels and reading about the Indigenous peoples of the world have also altered my worldview and I have gleaned so much from chatting with a friend from Samoa here at ISU.
So go ahead, ask me where I’m from. I’m sure it will be the beginning of an intoxicating conversation.