How to Ask Someone About Their Ethnicity

At Jezebel, Meher Ahmad creates a what-not-to-say list for people itching to learn her ethnicity. She argues that we should be beyond that in postracial America.

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At a time when America is supposed to be postracial, at Jezebel, Meher Ahmad, creates a list of what not to say for people trying to learn her ethnicity. But really, don't bother asking, because we should be beyond such questions.

If you haven't been able to surmise from my little avatar photo off to the side and my non-WASP name (although, sometimes I like to prance about in Victorian lace numbers and call myself Marjorie Altringham), I am Not a White Person. This means I am a walking version of this fun little game called "What Kind of Not White Person Are You?" Here's how it goes: I introduce myself to you at a party or some such social gathering. You introduce yourself as well. In an attempt to get to know me better, or maybe just keep the conversation going, you want to know exactly how I am a Not a White Person. Which is totally fine at the right time and place, because I love gabbing on about my immigrant parents and how much I love mango pickle. It's all good fun in post-racial America, like wearing a red, white, and blue dashiki on the fourth of July (who knew you could don a dashiki and be patriotic at the same damn time?!)

But the majority of the time I play this game, supposedly well-intentioned people curious about my brownness go about asking it in the wrong way. No, not the wrong way- the A***hole way. I get it, really. You grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis and no one ever taught you how to not be an asshole. That's actually my life story, too, but you can't always throw Indianapolis under the bus as your excuse for being ignorant.

Read Meher Ahmad's entire piece at Jezebel.

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