Monday, October 20, 2014

Where Are You From?

As a military kid, I always found this question difficult to answer.  We moved every 1-4 years.  I was born in Texas.  I graduated from high school in Maryland.  I went to college in North Carolina.   I had grandparents in Charlotte, NC and Williamsburg, VA.  My name, Betty Anne, sounds as deep south as one possibly can, but my accent doesn't match.  However, when people asked me where I was from, they were usually looking for a location--a city and/or state.

I came across this recently, and it made me ponder some things.

Where Are You From? (*language warning*)

One part that stood out to me was:

"If you spill your coffee on me once, it's no big deal.  But when I get coffee spilled on me every damn day, can you blame me for being pissed off when you spill your coffee on me too?"

That is a really, really great analogy.  To me it means that I need to be more aware of what I say to people.

1)  I need to keep in mind that I may be genuinely interested in getting to know someone better and learning more about them, but perhaps they have fielded the "where are you from" question one too many times.

2)  Genuinely getting to know someone better and learning more about them may be appropriate motivation for a question about where someone is from.  It may be okay in the context of a developing friendship with an individual.  The stranger behind me in the Target line is probably not a developing friend.  Neither is the coffee shop barista.

3)  Thinking before I speak is a struggle for me day to day.  In this case in particular, I need to think about why I am asking such a question.  Am I just nosey/curious/wanna know and therefore it's all about me?  Because that's probably the answer 90% of the time.

4)  I think pregnant women could identify strongly with the "coffee spilling" analogy above.  Visibly pregnant women get bombarded with all kinds of inappropriate, personal questions daily.  As do multiracial families.  Or really large families.  Or... or... or...  the list could go on and on of people fielding repetitive questions from strangers.

I feel like I'm not expressing myself very well right now, but hopefully I'm making some inkling of a point.  Let's think more about what we say before we say it and have a little bit of mercy for one another.

Maybe that person has had one too many coffee spills...


Brooke Everhart said...

Well put. My favorite line is regarding the faces on tv:
white, white, white, and Will Smith.

Thankfully, there are several shows that have not-all-white cast members... although sadly, there isn't nearly enough diversity for my taste. Grey's Anatomy and Parks & Rec have cast members from various backgrounds and lifestyles and their story lines intermingle and it's beautiful... however there are still far too many shows that have homogenous casts/characters. And don't even get me started on the underrepresentation of Latinos in the media.

Wait... what were we talking about?

Anne Acuff said...

When I used to take you to dance lessons, I would go to a nearby shop to kill the time. There was a lady I saw weekly. One day she had on a maternity type smock and a large tummy. The most embarrassing moment of my whole life was when I asked her when she was "due". She replied, "I'm not pregnant", and turned on her heels and walked away. I apologized profusely but the damage was already done. To this day I will not ask anyone if they are pregnant even if they are due the next day!!!