“What are you?”
So many of us have had to deal with this question; sometimes cloaked as “Where are you from?” Both questions can feel like a micro agression. However, their motive may simply be selfish curiosity, but often it’s a dubious attempt to categorize us into a “race” or ethnicity box.
The way I answer depends on the intention I perceive from the interrogator. The best universal answer is; “I’ll tell you — if you first tell me what you are / where you’re from.”
If you feel the interrogator has dubious intent, have a little fun and create a teaching moment. Here’s an interesting example:
Q. Where are you from?
A1. <city of residence>
Q. No, I mean originally.
A. <city of birth>
Q. No, I mean where are your parents from?
A. Oh, Do you mean “What’s my ethnic heritage?”
Q. What are you?
A. How do you mean?
Q. What “race” are you?
A. I’m from the human race. Do you mean “What’s my ethnic heritage?”
These interrogating questions have always frustrated me and caught me off guard. It’s rare that I respond in a friendly and helpful way. It’s something I hope to do better on in the future though.