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Today, I asked a Middle Eastern man sitting in the waiting room, “What’s your ethnic background?” He said, “American.” I said, “Yeah, but where are you from?” and he replied, “I’ve lived right down the street since I was three years old. I’m from here.” MMT

#8379 (14) - Jun 30, 2010 by Amber - Miscellaneous - Yes, that made me think too! (1244) - No, that made me sleepy. (298)


Comments

 

So....where did he live for the first 3 years of his life? That means he wasn't born American, but is now because he lives there. It doesn't matter where he is from really, but this part makes the point of the posting less effective. Had it been "I was born and raised in America" then it would have been different.

@RightKnight: He could have just as easily spent his first three years in another state, or city, or part of town that's not down the street. And besides, if he were indeed born in a different country, the fact that he doesn't consider himself anything other than American now would be even more interesting and effective. (Though yeah, I do think that we haven't necessarily existed long enough for there to be an American ethnicity, as opposed to nationality. But that's semantic quibbling on my part, and would miss the point if that were all I focused on.)

Having worked in the medical industry, I don't believe this is "interesting and effective" at all, but another one of the usual miscommunications. And yet another MMT knock off: http://makesmethink.com/view/Inspiring/297

Sounds kind of racist to me (and by 'kind of' I mean extremely). I bet this conversation would not have happened if he was white. I tend to assume that everyone I see in America is from America unless there's a big clue otherwise. Skin color is not one of them.

@silvermoonstar3, to ask someone thier nationality is not racist, more curious. when people ask me my nationality, i dont think theyr raicist, they just wanna knoe. asking someone isnt discriminating them at all.

This quibbing itself MMT. Trying to excuse it as a "usual" miscommunication? There's a bunch of fine ways to ask about someone's ancestral ethnicity, and "where are you from?" is not one of them.

ethnicity does not necessarily equal nationality

There are disagreements on the Internets! Well, we're all certainly thinking now, right? The titular criterion is being met. Everyone wins!

My, now aren't you rude. You're probably white. Wouldn't you get confused if people asked your ethnic background because you aren't an indigenous American?

How is it racist? I mean, I'm middle Eastern myself and was born and raised in Britain. However, even if someone at school who I barely know asks me where I'm from, I am enthralled to get to answer; 'cause I'm proud of my ethnic background. In a way, thinking it's racist to ask is in itselfm slightly racist to me. It's like you're asking me to ignore my ethnicity because it's now almost too taboo to talk about it.

@silvermoonstar3 It sounded really racist to me, too. Not the conversation, but how the poster didn't believe someone who was of Middle Eastern physique could have been born in America. Ix that's not what they meant, it's still what it came off as.

Go dance on the head of a pin, AySz88. I initially misread this as if the OP worked in triage, completing forms for the Middle Eastern-looking patient. Ethnicity (and nationality) is sometimes an important diagnostic criteria. Many people get confused and answer American, the Irish and Chinese and Syrian alike. Just like the "social smokers" are impossible to get a straight answer out of without five minutes of pestering.

I guess he goes by the saying that America is a melting pot of everyone. Made me think - I don't nearly hear many Caucasian people being asked where they are from or what their ethnic background is, because I suppose "American" is considered synonymous with "White".

okay...I'm half middle-eastern as well...Palestinian to be exact. And maybe he had said American because he was afraid of a racist or negative comment/reply from you. Many Arabs have been discriminated cz of the whole 9/11 incident. OR he may have said American cause he may be from Palestine aswell and when he would say "Palestinian" people would say "it doesnt exist" or "what's palestine? do you mean pakistan"

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