Author Topic: Tolerance Is an Ugly Word  (Read 1139 times)


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Re: Tolerance Is an Ugly Word
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2023, 05:53:49 pm »

It’s a question seemingly every mixed-race person and person of color has been asked before: “What are you?” (Or more innocuously, “Where are you from?”)

Ph.D. student Ayumi Matsuda-Rivero hears the question so often, she has become relatively deft at knowing how to respond.
“If someone asks me ‘What are you?’ I respond with ‘I’m a person,’ because ‘what’ implies an object rather than a person, and too often mixed people are seen as ‘exotic’ collectibles.”

If someone asks, “Where you from?” Matsuda-Rivero will say the state of Virginia because that’s where she has spent most of her life.
The problem is, often it feels like someone is trying to point out the otherness of someone else. Then there’s the frequent persistence in their line of questioning: Some won’t let up until the person of color offers up some “non-U.S.” origin story.

“White people would never persist in these types of questions with other white people, so why do they ask people of color?” said William Ming Liu, a professor of counseling psychology and department chair at the University of Maryland. (His research interests are in social class and classism, men and masculinity, and white supremacy and privilege.)

“Many white people have [the model] of a white racial person in mind in general, so when someone varies from that, they’re already primed, cognitively, to see the nonwhite person as a foreigner or non-American,” Liu told HuffPost.

People of color are considered “outsiders, interlopers, foreigners to that specific space,” the professor said.

Given how loaded the question is, Liu isn’t sure if there’s a nonclumsy way to ask it.

“The broader question for white people asking this is, why? What is the need to know? To identify the person of color as the ‘other’ in this space?” he said.