If you've ever been asked where you're really from, you know how awkward the question can make you feel. But this video gives us (and our children) a pretty perfect idea for how to answer.

By Zara Hanawalt
April 15, 2021
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An image of a girl's hands holding a globe.
Credit: Getty Images.

If you're a racial or ethnic minority, chances are you've been asked where you're from. And when you answer that question with the name of your hometown, you've almost certainly been pressed. "No, but...where are you from from?" is typically the next (infuriating) question. As a person of color, I know I've been on the receiving end of this line of questioning more times than I can even begin to count.

It doesn't end there, though. It's 2021, and our children are still facing questions about where they're "from from". See: Lacey Vorrasi-Banis, who is not only intimately familiar with this kind of questioning, she's also teaching her daughter how to address it, as evidenced by a recent video that appears on Vorrasi-Banis's Twitter feed.

In the video, the little girl is repeatedly asked "where are you from?"—and her response is pretty perfect. She reinforces that she's from Los Angeles multiple times before finally adorably dropping another response to the "where are you from?" question: "I'm from your nightmare," she says. Mic. Drop.

I asked Vorrasi-Banis why she chose to post this video, and her answer is both intensely relatable to me and incredibly important for people who have asked this question to understand.

"It's an ignorant question that all AAPI have been forced to answer over the course of our lives, and while the scabs of having to repeatedly answer it over the course of my own 40 years of life have somewhat healed, now with my own daughter I realize that they're going to be opened in a new way," she tells Parents.

But being a minority isn't the only lens through which Vorrasi-Banis views this issue today—as a parent, she also thinks about how questions like this one will affect her child, particularly as we navigate a time of so much anti-Asian rhetoric and hate.

"With the recent rise in anti-Asian crimes, my wife and I made a decision to not yet tell her about the potential physicality of harassment and racism, but to at least open the door to her understanding that the world is going to treat her differently simply because of the shape of her eyes," Vorrasi-Banis says. "So I started to prepare her for this inevitable question with many different answers and many different scenarios. This one she took to, as well as another, which is 'from my mama's uterus.' My hope is that in seeing the reality of a 5-year-old having to navigate this question with these outlandish yet fitting responses, it'll make people think before they open their mouths."

It's incredibly frustrating to be asked this question in any context, but it's especially telling when you're standing next to a white person and noticing that they receive no such inquiry. Vorrasi-Banis speaks to that as well. "I wish people would consider whether or not they'd ask white people the same thing and expect a similar answer, or, would they be satisfied if that person said, 'from New Jersey.' I wish they'd consider what they're truly asking and the information that they're actually wanting to receive," she says.

"I'd also wish they'd consider not only why it is that they feel they need to know, but why they feel they're entitled to that answer," she continues. "When people say, 'No, where are you REALLY from?' what they're telling you is that you don't belong HERE. Period."

She's right. This type of questioning really needs to stop—and while the video this mom posted is sweet and adorable, it also hits on an issue that really needs to be addressed. We need to stop asking Asian Americans (and other minorities who live in this country) where they're really from—because where we belong is here.