Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => "Have you tried the bean dip?" => Topic started by: whiterose on December 06, 2009, 02:52:36 PM

Title: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 06, 2009, 02:52:36 PM
As you all know, I was not too happy where I was born and first lived (let's call it Lavenderland) and am much happier in Florida.

I have a thick accent- so it inevitably leads to people asking where I am from. Which leads to people making comments like "oh my neighbor is from Lavenderland" or "I have been to Lavenderland". Which is okay per se, but I do NOT want to be seen as just a Lavender (or Purple in general, hehe). I can state it very matter of fact when it is absolutely relevant- just as matter of fact as I state my height or blood type, which are vital statistics as well but do not seem anywhere near as pigeonhole material.

Is "I will let you know that when we get to know each other better" a good way to deflect when the question is asked by a prospective romantic partner? After all, it is not an offensive question- though given my unique situation, I do find it a bit intrusive and would prefer the person ask me about my hobbies/interests/career goals.

When someone said yesterday "I hear Lavenderland is very pretty" and I replied "Yes, but I am much happier here", was that rude? Does it sound like I have something to hide? Is it a good way to state "please let's change the subject, I am a complex person and there is more to me than that vital statistic"?


This has nothing to do with pride or shame. This simply has to do with the fact that I am  happier and better off here and that I do NOT want to be seen just  as "the girl from  Lavenderland" under.ANY.circumstances when there is so much else to me.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: RainhaDoTexugo on December 06, 2009, 03:04:53 PM
The problem with avoiding the question is, it tends to make a bigger deal out of it.  If you tell me you're from Lavenderland, I'll probably think "Oh, Lavenderland, I hear they have X there," and I won't think about it any further, unless maybe one day I really need to know the Lavenderese word for pickle or something :P  In most cases, I wouldn't see you as just "the girl from Lavenderland," any more than I'd see you as that librarian, or the girl in Florida, or anything like that.  Anyone who does find out where you were born and makes a big deal out of it, and can't see beyond it probably isn't worth knowing anyway.

If you make a secret out of it, people will want to find out why it's such a big deal.  Since "where are you from?" is generally such a simple question, to give an out of the ordinary answer really really draws attention.  People will want to know where you're from, why you're hiding it, what happened that was so terrible that made you hide it, why you left, etc.  If I asked "where are you from?" and got "I'll let you know when we get to know each other better," I wouldn't be able to stop myself from focusing on it!  If you don't want a big deal made of it, you're much better off just treating it like any other fact, and not making a big deal out of it at all.

I do think "Yes, but I'm much happier here" is perfectly fine.  If someone asks where you're from, you can use something similar.  "I was born in Lavenderland, but I'm so much happier here.  I really love the *insert distracting bean dip about Florida and your interests here*"
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Suze on December 06, 2009, 03:06:35 PM
first is "lavenderland" the state or the city....

cause if it is the city -- you could always say

I'm from around "fushia" (some place "close" to lavenderland) and leave it at that.  

or the old - I've lived in many places but this one is home now.  thanks.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 06, 2009, 03:16:26 PM
Lavenderland is probably closest to the state. If I mention the city (let's call it "Normal Brother Ville"), they will either be able to figure out I am from Lavenderland, or keep asking since their geographic knowledge may not be keen enough.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Veronica on December 06, 2009, 03:24:36 PM
How long ago did you move to Florida?  If you arrived before you were in your teens I'd just say, "I grew up in Jacksonville."*


DH gets this a lot because his name is very Indian.  When they ask where he is from he says, "Chicago."  If they then say, "no, where are you froooooooooooom?"  He replies, "my ancestors are from India and Ireland. I grew up in Chicago" or "My Dad is from India" or something like that.  

*or wherever you grew up.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 06, 2009, 03:57:09 PM
I moved to Florida when I was 17. Too late for me to lose the accent naturally. I do state my hometown as "Pigsburg, FL" (this pseudonym is based on the city's actual nickname) on social networking sites- after all, my parents still reside there. I do state that I am from the northern part of the state/Pigsburg/Cowsburg (which is true), BUT people keep persisting due to my accent and are not content till I tell them that I come from Lavenderland. Sometimes they are satisfied, sometimes they point out that the accent does not correspond, sometimes they go for the questions about it, sometimes they go straight for the pigeonholing or stereotyping.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: gollymolly2 on December 06, 2009, 04:51:11 PM
I would say "I was born in [town] but I consider Pigstown, Florida home, what about you?"

Being weirdly defensive draws a lot more attention to it than just stating it and moving on. And there's a good chance that people don't think it's as big a deal as you do.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: HorseFreak on December 06, 2009, 05:05:25 PM
To be honest, if I was on a date and he said, "I'll tell you when we know each other better," I'd be thinking there's something serious that he's hiding (crime, for example). Being secretive, as others have said above, makes it much bigger deal than you want it to be and may result in fewer second dates.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 06, 2009, 05:37:43 PM
So being secretive is not the best way to deal with it then.

I just do not want something like this to happen again:

Guy and I meet at a photoshoot. He thinks my accent is Russian. I tell him the truth about my background. We go on 3 dates that go great. My hometown and ethnic background are not mentioned at all! Then on 4th date, he is not in the best of moods. He apologizes for the attitude. It comes up that I do not get angry easily. He says that he can see me as having buttons that can be pushed. I say yes, but that overall I have a long fuse. He then replies:

"I have never met a Lavender woman with a long fuse".

Owch.

Or like this (ok, so this is to a lesser extent).

Guy and I go out for lunch and he asks me where I am from. I tell him. He says "cool". We go into the specifics a bit since one parent is from one country and another one from another hence my accent is not what you'd expect. But not much is said. We talk more about video games and music and the sort.

Yet at the beginning of the second date, while we are on the way to the mall, he asks one too many questions about when I moved here, about which parent was what, and had a bit of trouble getting everything straight. But he asked a bit too much about it- as if it were no longer "cool" and as if he may have had an issue with it. This was the second and last date :(

It is not the easiest pill to swallow due to reputation- hence I wonder if being secretive may have been better. If it added mystery and mystique and thus allure. But I see this is not the case.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Veronica on December 06, 2009, 05:40:43 PM
Hey, at least you were able to weed them out early!  Honestly, would you really want to be with someone who judged you based on this? 
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Hanna on December 06, 2009, 06:23:09 PM
Try "It's not a topic I relish. Perhaps another time." Then change the subject.

I have to confess that the previous comments you've made in other threads about your origins have always made me more curious rather than less so.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: kareng57 on December 06, 2009, 07:12:40 PM
So being secretive is not the best way to deal with it then.

I just do not want something like this to happen again:

Guy and I meet at a photoshoot. He thinks my accent is Russian. I tell him the truth about my background. We go on 3 dates that go great. My hometown and ethnic background are not mentioned at all! Then on 4th date, he is not in the best of moods. He apologizes for the attitude. It comes up that I do not get angry easily. He says that he can see me as having buttons that can be pushed. I say yes, but that overall I have a long fuse. He then replies:

"I have never met a Lavender woman with a long fuse".

Owch.

Or like this (ok, so this is to a lesser extent).

Guy and I go out for lunch and he asks me where I am from. I tell him. He says "cool". We go into the specifics a bit since one parent is from one country and another one from another hence my accent is not what you'd expect. But not much is said. We talk more about video games and music and the sort.

Yet at the beginning of the second date, while we are on the way to the mall, he asks one too many questions about when I moved here, about which parent was what, and had a bit of trouble getting everything straight. But he asked a bit too much about it- as if it were no longer "cool" and as if he may have had an issue with it. This was the second and last date :(

It is not the easiest pill to swallow due to reputation- hence I wonder if being secretive may have been better. If it added mystery and mystique and thus allure. But I see this is not the case.


What I'd conclude is that you had dates with a couple of jerks - nothing more.

But really, asking where someone is from is a perfectly normal getting-acquainted question - and if someone was very secretive about it I'd wonder whether he or she grew up in the Witness Protection program or something.  I'd think that mentioning the place and tacking on an addendum such as "but I really prefer it here and hardly ever go back" would be fine.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Wendy Moira Angela Pan on December 06, 2009, 07:47:02 PM
Actually I think that mentioning where you're from is a good way to weed out idiots who make assumptions about you based on where you're from. So if some dude tells you that he's well aware that all Lavendar women are fiery, you know he's a doofus. I definitely wouldn't try to defer revealing your hometown. It's a pretty standard getting to know you type question.

If I asked some one where they were from, and they bean-dipped me, I'd be confused and weirded out.  You don't want people to think it's a big deal, but you're actually making a pretty big deal out of it. It kinda seems like you're expecting people to be jerks about it without giving them a chance not to be.

I know what you mean about people jumping to conclusions about you. I'm from Los Angeles, and even in CA, when I tell people where I'm from, they sometimes say, "Ohhhhh LAAAAA (in a hoity toity voice). Do you know any famous people?" I just raise my eyebrows and say, "Nope," and they knock it off. Or if they can't, I avoid them.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 07, 2009, 07:28:55 AM
It's not just prospective romantic partners. It's friends, customers, and random people who make interesting assumptions...

I told a friend that I did not like summer, that I preferred autumn and winter. She replied "you should be a summer girl because you are from Lavenderland" (which has a tropical climate). I was not happy in the tropics- including, but not limited to, allergies and the scorching sun. Nice attempt to put a square peg in a round hole.

Another customer at the library upon hearing where I was from said "Lavender women tend to be very bossy" (???)

And people who sway their hips in the stereotypical Purple way upon hearing. I wonder if people are surprised that I power-walk rather than swaying the lower half of my body.

Unfortunately, it seems like once I mention my hometown/ethnic background, some people can see absolutely nothing else about me. It's not like I am at my job where they need someone who speaks a particular language and thus it is relevant.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: jillybean on December 07, 2009, 07:50:46 AM
Maybe a variation of a slogan I see on Texas souvenier t-shirts: "I wasn't born in Florida, but I got here as soon as I could."
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: camlan on December 07, 2009, 07:53:47 AM
I can see how annoying it must be to a) have people trot out every stereotype about your country of origin whenever you mention it and b) have people try to apply (or force) those stereotypes on you. Especially if you don't particularly fit those stereotypes or even dislike them.

Every piece of info I give out about myself can lead someone to stereotype me. I'm Irish, therefore I must drink a lot (as the old saying goes, God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn't rule the world). I'm Scottish, so I must be stingy with money. I majored English in college, so I must have a real hard time finding a job. I'm from Boston, so like all Northerners, I'm cold and distant. I like Star Trek, therefore I am a geek. I drive a Volvo, which is even geekier. When I was in Europe, I had to deal with the "American girls are easy" stereotype. I don't want to get into the comments that have been made when I tell certain people I attended a women's college.

People can and will make assumptions about you based on the tiniest scrap of information they have about you. And there's really not much you (general you) can do about it.

What  you can do is deflect these comments. "That's an interesting assumption," is tailor made for these situations. Or if you can, inject a tiny bit of humor. "You should be a summer girl because you are from Lavenderland." "You know about the exception that proves the rule? That's me!"

Don't bean dip the question of where you are from. Bean dip the responses to the fact that you are from Lavendarland.

Some people will never see beyond the stereotype. And that is their loss. Other people can see beyond stereotypes and may become your friends.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 07, 2009, 09:03:02 AM
   Whiterose your update helped....I have to clarify because it's important to my answer, I'm trying to keep in the spirit of your being vague.   At 17 you emigrated from another country that country has some stereotypes associated that seem to dominate people's view of you once they know where you from?  Some of what your dealing with is more racism/cuturalism then just a "weird" assumption about a city/place  ie oh your from Detroit you have a gun ? your from Idaho you grew up on a farm? is a different animal then all the people from X country are Y. Also, because people may be being more persistent because they have prejudices against people from country X and not country Y and they are trying to determent which you from.

I don't think you can avoid answering all the time it's a common getting to know you question and the surest way to make people interested is to be mysterious. So I'll try some ideas for acquaintances and some for potential romantic partners.

    If I came from Vegas and everyone asked if I gambled or if my mom was a showgirl I could be more vague and say Nevada or the southwest.  The opposite may be true , if you name the city/town is it possible no one has heard of it? " I move to Fla when I was a kid I was born in "name of city" leave the country out."  or if it's a very recognizable city name a small city near it " I grew up near (small tome near big city where I lived)" two things are happening here , you've answered a common question without making them more curious and if you say it in a matter of fact voice people will hopefully assume they should know where your talking about.

   For those you aren't close to but have regular contact with. You can also keep people from being curious by being open, but open about what you chose to be open about and redirect the conversations by sharing.  Where did you grow up would be answered with "small town" there was this pond we like to swim in as kids ..... fill in with childhood story  .  You can name anything that exists in most towns a ice cream shop all the kids went to , park, library or a person the nice old lady that gave all the kids treats the grumpy old man that yelled at all the kids.  I'm not suggesting you share something deeply personal you but the kind of things that happen in some form to tens of thousands of people and you can erm sanitize the details to make where you from more general.   You can be specific about innocuous details ,when I was 7 and my best friend was 6 we went to...it was a 30 minutes walk. make the answer 5-10 sentences your not trying to be boring.  does that make sense?  the idea being one of three things will happen

The person wanted to be your friend and now you've just had a friendly conversation, you can ask what about you? a person wanting to be friends will probably share a story of their own, or ask questions/comment about your story and follow with a story of their own

The person was just making polite conversation ,well it was polite but they may now ask obligatory getting to know you questionsonce you know someone is just making obligatory social niceties you can bean dip or be vague they really don't want to know

The person is determined to know where you from , you can now say "enough about me how about where you grow up?" if someone is aggressive in trying to get you to answer it's right to be leery, ie "yes, but where are you from"

A romantic prospect I'd answer.  and then judge them how they respond , do they ask stereotypical question and how to the respond to being dissuaded.  Asking cultural specific questions is a normal . I may ask an English person about Guy Faulks day or someone from Mexico about day of the dead, or how about the lock ness monster?  what you think about universal health care. It's trying to personalize ice breaker conversation. The conversation you have will very likely tell you something you really want to know about the person, and in my personal opinion this sort of conversation can be much more reveling then "I like walks in the rain and pina colas" After a some conversation it's fine to redirect the conversation.    

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: audrey1962 on December 07, 2009, 10:10:51 AM
I'm from metro Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and I have a very ethnic surname (assumption is we're of low intelligence). Occasionally someone makes a stupid comment, which I ignore and/or ridicule* and then make a mental note to myself that the person is an idiot. I always picture Hugh Laurie as House saying, "you're a moron!" Just thinking it cheers me up.

*Always politely, of course
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 07, 2009, 10:15:39 AM
I'm from metro Detroit (where the weak are killed and eaten) and I have a very ethnic surname (assumption is we're of low intelligence). Occasionally someone makes a stupid comment, which I ignore and/or ridicule* and then make a mental note to myself that the person is an idiot. I always picture Hugh Laurie as House saying, "you're a moron!" Just thinking it cheers me up.

*Always politely, of course


we are also all armed to the teeth Audrey ....I actually was at a meeting we did the whole interdiction thing the leaders answer he only commented about me was " see not all people from Detroit (something to the effect of ) gun wielding manics you don't have to be scared "
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 07, 2009, 10:32:01 AM
Maybe I am coming at this from a different perspective...

I think you need to work first on being comfortable with this part of your heritage.  Not everything about ourselves is something we are going to love (or even like) but you have to learn to accept those parts.  You sound like you really hate that it is obvious your origin is from Lavenderland and that seems to be the problem moreso than people's comments, since some are quite innocent.  You can *love* Florida and feel like its your home and your true identity--but that doesn't mean you need to erase or cover up any other pieces of you.  That bit of Lavendarish is part of what makes you who you are.  I think if you can accept it and make peace with it, you're going to have a much easier time with interactions.

Also, be clear that nearly *everyone* deals with stereotypes.  *Anything* that is remotely obvious about your ethnicity, region of origin or even hair color can bring about comments and stereotypes.  If they aren't malicious, just deflect them with good humor.  (And I do think a majority of the time people are joking around--most people do not take stereotypes uber seriously).

Someone says "oh, you're from Lavendarland but you don't like X?  That's suprising!"
You respond, "Everyone likes different things and besides I really feel like Florida is my home and it just suits my personality so much more."

Basically just keep it lighthearted and mention how much you enjoy living exactly where you are and that it suits you well.

And just another side note--and I mean this completely respectfully--I think you take things in general far more seriously than they are intended.  I have read a bunch of your threads and that seems to keep happening.  Most people make the kinds of statements you are mentioning very lightheartedly and in a fun/joking manner.  Perhaps, you could keep in mind and next time try to see if perhaps it isn't something that's meant to be serious.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: RooRoo on December 08, 2009, 09:23:08 PM
I agree that the best reply to rude stereotypes is "What an interesting assumption," said coldly, with a lifted eyebrow. Or, said cheerily, followed by immediate bean dipping.

A friendlier response could be something like, "Oh, stereotypes, aren't they awful?" with a laugh.

I've got that American News Anchor accent. Nobody ever asks me where I'm from. Oh, well, can't have everything.

Ruthie

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Danismom on December 08, 2009, 09:53:46 PM
Perhaps you are meeting tons and tons of racists/culturalists (is that even a word??).  Or perhaps its something different...

When I was in training, I was griping to a supervisor that I kept having the same frustrating thing happen over and over with different people.  The inspired response I got was "Every time we talk about this its with someone different.  So what part of the equation stays the same?"  The answer of course, was ME!  My way of dealing with things and my *stuff* kept prompting this response. 

You mentioned that one of the guys querried you quite a bit on the date after you told him where you were born.  Then you commented that it was your second to last date.  Since this issue bothers you so much, I'm thinking he may've picked up on that.  If he did, then I can imagine that it might be your hesitance to discuss it rather than where you were from that made him uncomfortable.

Either way,
I'm with those who encourage you to get comfortable with where you're from and find what it gifted you with.  Then make peace with it and let it be part of your past.  You've got nothing to be ashamed of.  You didn't choose to be from there or to live there as a child.  You got to FL as fast as you could!  I would handle those situations with humor as much as possible and minimal secrecy. 

Now that I think about it, you said that one person though you were from Russia.  If you add secrecy to boot, it'll just make it much much worse.  American stereotypes couple all things secretive and Russian/Eastern European as being KGB-ish.  Just a thought!

I live in Texas and have all my life.  Here, there's a joke that's even on bumper stickers.  It says something along the lines of I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could.  Perhaps it would be simple to say:  "I was born in Eastern Europe, but I got to FL as quick as I could.  I just love it here, with the warm sun and great people!  What's your favorite thing about living here?"
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: magdalena on December 09, 2009, 03:49:14 AM
whiterose,

I know very well how frustrating that is.

When I was in North America, I dealt with a lot of guys thinking that girls from where I come from are "liberal" and "free-spirited". And those where the ones who knew where the country is or that it is a country  ;) The others asked me if I'd ever eated ice-cream or used a computer...
Here in Germany I've dealt with questions and assumptions, too. Some think I must be extremely intelligent and well educated, others wonder if I married my hubby to come to "the Golden West" as they called it. Or there are the people, who know a lot and don't really go into stereotypes and still get all surprised that I don't like fish, am not a great skiier and actually do get cold at times  ;D

I tend to agree with Red, if you could learn to feel a bit more comfortable with your heritage (you don't have to love the country or want to go back, but you can be ok with your heritage - after all, it's a part of you and always will be), you might find that it's not such a problem anymore.

Be direct and matter of fact, don't make a secret out of it. Then, the guys who have a problem with it - well, they don't deserve a great girl like you anyhow and you can be happy to find that out early on.

Don't take one strange/odd comment the wrong way, though. Those can happen. I know my DH has made a comment or two about my nationality, some funny and cute, one or two not so much, but it was out of nervousness and trying too hard to be funny (when we were first dating - it was a strange transition from friendship to "in love" and at times neither of us knew what to do ;))
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Larrabee on December 09, 2009, 04:42:36 AM
So being secretive is not the best way to deal with it then.

I just do not want something like this to happen again:

Guy and I meet at a photoshoot. He thinks my accent is Russian. I tell him the truth about my background. We go on 3 dates that go great. My hometown and ethnic background are not mentioned at all! Then on 4th date, he is not in the best of moods. He apologizes for the attitude. It comes up that I do not get angry easily. He says that he can see me as having buttons that can be pushed. I say yes, but that overall I have a long fuse. He then replies:

"I have never met a Lavender woman with a long fuse".

Owch.

Or like this (ok, so this is to a lesser extent).

Guy and I go out for lunch and he asks me where I am from. I tell him. He says "cool". We go into the specifics a bit since one parent is from one country and another one from another hence my accent is not what you'd expect. But not much is said. We talk more about video games and music and the sort.

Yet at the beginning of the second date, while we are on the way to the mall, he asks one too many questions about when I moved here, about which parent was what, and had a bit of trouble getting everything straight. But he asked a bit too much about it- as if it were no longer "cool" and as if he may have had an issue with it. This was the second and last date :(

It is not the easiest pill to swallow due to reputation- hence I wonder if being secretive may have been better. If it added mystery and mystique and thus allure. But I see this is not the case.

First guy was an idiot, however I'm not going to judge the second guy too harshly.  My OH has dual citizenship between the country where we both grew up and the country one of his parents is from.  This country has a rather mixed reputation with a lot of people in home country but obviously its not remotely an issue for me.

When we were first dating, I did ask questions about it like your second guy did.  I wanted to make sure I had everything straight so that I didn't end up months into a relationship with facts all muddled up and so that I didn't offend his family when I met them.  Also because I was just interested!  OH's background is a big part of who he is.

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: magdalena on December 09, 2009, 05:11:53 AM
Larrabee,

that too. I forgot to add that to my response.

A lot of people ask me a lot of questions about my home country. It can get tiring and repetitive for me, but I just think of it as a possibility to educate them a little and to tell them that we're not all that different than they are themselves. Or to deflect some of the stereotypes.
I'm happy to say: "Oh, no, we're not all blonde and blue-eyed, even if I am" or "No, no, we're not all quiet and melancholic, just look at me!"
Also, if you don't know someone well, it's hard to know how much they'd like you to ask them about their background. Some people love telling about their home countries/cities while other would rather not.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 09, 2009, 06:44:03 AM
Well, the second fellow did not make any negative comments about it. He may have been just asking. After all, his father was of one ancestry and his mother of another. So he may have been curious about my particular case- after all, my accent does not match my hometown. So I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I answered all questions very matter of fact and even told me that my mother did identify with the hometown.

The guy who thought I had a Russian accent I told upon meeting him that it was a Purple accent and that I was from Lavenderland. We went on our first date that night (we had met at an event during the day). We went on two more dates that went well and where this had not been discussed at all. Hence I am so surprised, shocked, and hurt that he held it against me in the middle of the FOURTH date. Almost as if he thought he could deal with a Purple woman, even if it was not his preference, but eventually he came to realize he could not. He ended up marrying a woman who was his preference- he had mentioned in passing liking women of this persuasion.

It's just that people seem to remember this fact more than pretty much any other fact or vital statistic. It's as if my education or my love for dolls, anime, science, exercising, etc. were nonexistent and the first thing they could recall about me was my hometown and ethnic background. Most people are very respectful and polite about it, but there is much more to me!
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: magdalena on December 09, 2009, 07:10:38 AM
whiterose,
sure there's more to you - and to me.
For most people your heritage and ancestry just seem like a thing that is easy to ask about and talk about in contrast to hobbies they may not know much about. For me those would be ceramics, reading, linguistics and choir, sure, nothing out of this world, but there are people who don't know much about those. Or my job. But the fact that I wasn't born here is an easy one to use to ask questions once the obvious ones:
So what do you do?
What are your hobbies?
What kind of movies/music/books do you enjoy?
are all done  ;)
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: nyarlathotep on December 10, 2009, 02:49:27 AM
Whiterose-

The consensus here seems to be that it's not a good idea to deflect the question. However, if you really don't want to mention lavenderland at all, you could always try another tactic:

Nosy Person: "So where do you come from?"
Whiterose: "(current home town)".

It's not a lie--you consider yourself "from" your town, don't you?

For my part, I always thought it was rude to ask about someone else's ethnic background, but that may be a cultural thing.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Rockie on December 10, 2009, 09:43:15 PM
I can also relate to people remembering you only for your ethnicity; I remember one teacher who wrote down a fact for each person to help her remember our names, and next to mine she wrote my ethnicity (she did not do that for anyone else). I agree about using your current home town as the answer if you really want to avoid mentioning your home country. Though I've found sometimes that's not good enough for some people, and I end up having exchanges like this:

Person: "So where are you from?"
Me: "(home state, where I was born and raised)"
Person: "No, I mean...what ARE you?"

I like to think the best of people (unless they give me a reason not to) and assume they were not trying to be offensive, and I can understand the curiosity, but...I don't know, that last line still kind of rubs me the wrong way. I suppose it's in the implication that I'm somehow alien and not, you know, a person (depending on the tone of voice used), especially when they follow it up with an offensive stereotype. Though I know most of the time they actually want to ask what my cultural background is but just don't know how to phrase it.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Suze on December 11, 2009, 04:43:07 PM
Person: No I mean... WHAT are you?

********

In your best goofy cheerfull voice ---

"I'm a GIRL" (or BOY as case may be)

Or if you really want to be obnoxious --- Look inside the front of your shirt first.....

I don't think that they will ask you THAT again.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 12, 2009, 04:07:08 PM
Yup, I have been asked "what are you" (in order to inquire about my hometown/ethnic background) too many times. I am tempted to tell them "I am a girl" or "I am a human being". It does get tiring.

Once a professor pointed out that she was happy that in the class this time they had someone from a different culture (meaning me). I was not offended, but I was wondering "are you talking about ME? Is it really THAT different? does it count?". But she was always respectful and polite, never said anything negative about this vital statistic, and only brought it up when necessary and relevant. As compared to that lab manager who blamed my having difficulty learning the ropes on "cultural expectations" and that "not only was I not fitting in the lab, but I did not fit in the USA period, and that I might as well go back to where I came from"  >:( :( :'(

I am not sure why people are so fascinated and perplexed by this. Lavenders and Purples in general are not uncommon where I live. I wonder if it is the cognitive dissonance of accent not matching hometown or what.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 12, 2009, 08:22:04 PM
Yup, I have been asked "what are you" (in order to inquire about my hometown/ethnic background) too many times. I am tempted to tell them "I am a girl" or "I am a human being". It does get tiring.

Once a professor pointed out that she was happy that in the class this time they had someone from a different culture (meaning me). I was not offended, but I was wondering "are you talking about ME? Is it really THAT different? does it count?". But she was always respectful and polite, never said anything negative about this vital statistic, and only brought it up when necessary and relevant. As compared to that lab manager who blamed my having difficulty learning the ropes on "cultural expectations" and that "not only was I not fitting in the lab, but I did not fit in the USA period, and that I might as well go back to where I came from"  >:( :( :'(

I am not sure why people are so fascinated and perplexed by this. Lavenders and Purples in general are not uncommon where I live. I wonder if it is the cognitive dissonance of accent not matching hometown or what.

Not sure if this will make you feel better...

In a dance class, on St. Patrick's day someone asked me "so are you Irish or Jewish?"  My answer was "neither."  He said "well you're a redhead and most are Irish or Jewish".  I answered that I'm Italian.  I often get mistaken for being Irish or Scottish.

These kinds of things happen to all of us--they just go with whatever your prominent "unusual" feature is.  Your accent/background is unusual so you'll get comments.  They aren't singling you out and its not uncommon.  At some point it happens to everyone.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: moimoi on December 14, 2009, 02:30:21 PM
I have plenty well-defined (and well-deserved  ;)) stereotypes of people where I currently live, but it is a small town & they are the subsequent usual stereotypes.  I have friends who live all over & for the life of me, I cannot fathom where on earth in the states you would have such difficulty with the reputation of your "birth city" staining people's perceptions of you to the degree you describe.  Am I completely dense in not catching the Lavendar, Purples, Vert, etcetera allusions?
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 14, 2009, 02:32:29 PM
I have plenty well-defined (and well-deserved  ;)) stereotypes of people where I currently live, but it is a small town & they are the subsequent usual stereotypes.  I have friends who live all over & for the life of me, I cannot fathom where on earth in the states you would have such difficulty with the reputation of your "birth city" staining people's perceptions of you to the degree you describe.  Am I completely dense in not catching the Lavendar, Purples, Vert, etcetera allusions?

I get confused too.  I understand why alternate names are used in certain instances, but in threads like these where it would make things a lot easier to understand, I'd prefer people just use the real places.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Wendy Moira Angela Pan on December 14, 2009, 07:22:42 PM
I have plenty well-defined (and well-deserved  ;)) stereotypes of people where I currently live, but it is a small town & they are the subsequent usual stereotypes.  I have friends who live all over & for the life of me, I cannot fathom where on earth in the states you would have such difficulty with the reputation of your "birth city" staining people's perceptions of you to the degree you describe.  Am I completely dense in not catching the Lavendar, Purples, Vert, etcetera allusions?

I get confused too.  I understand why alternate names are used in certain instances, but in threads like these where it would make things a lot easier to understand, I'd prefer people just use the real places.

Me too. I find it kind of ironic that you made a thread about trying to avoid talking about where you're from, but the euphemisms you're using are making people curious. I think that might be happening with other people IRL too. Being mysterious about your hometown makes people more curious about it, not less.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 15, 2009, 06:39:28 AM
And the answers to the euphemisms:

Purple- the language spoken as a first language in the most countries in the world, as well as an umbrella term created by the US Census (I think) to designate people whose ancestry came from one or more countries that spoke this language. Countries near each other (a large part of the world) that speak Purple are designated as Purple World.

Grapeland- the mother country of the Purple World, where the Purple language originated.

Lavenderland- the USA took it away from Grapeland and still has it.

Since people here use euphemisms so often, I decided to use them as well. Don't know how relevant the specific countries and languages are.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Larrabee on December 15, 2009, 09:26:04 AM
And the answers to the euphemisms:

Purple- the language spoken as a first language in the most countries in the world, as well as an umbrella term created by the US Census (I think) to designate people whose ancestry came from one or more countries that spoke this language. Countries near each other (a large part of the world) that speak Purple are designated as Purple World.

Grapeland- the mother country of the Purple World, where the Purple language originated.

Lavenderland- the USA took it away from Grapeland and still has it.

Since people here use euphemisms so often, I decided to use them as well. Don't know how relevant the specific countries and languages are.

Sorry, but that didn't exactly clear it up for me!  I'm pretty sure I know the first two but I'm not from the US so I'm stuck on where Lavenderland is still!
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 15, 2009, 09:46:58 AM
And the answers to the euphemisms:

Purple- the language spoken as a first language in the most countries in the world, as well as an umbrella term created by the US Census (I think) to designate people whose ancestry came from one or more countries that spoke this language. Countries near each other (a large part of the world) that speak Purple are designated as Purple World.

Grapeland- the mother country of the Purple World, where the Purple language originated.

Lavenderland- the USA took it away from Grapeland and still has it.

Since people here use euphemisms so often, I decided to use them as well. Don't know how relevant the specific countries and languages are.

The reason why I personally think just revealing the locations would be helpful in your posts, is because this is something you frequently post about and its hard for us to understand the stereotypes or the issues associated without knowing the affiliations.  The euphemisms on this board are typically used to hide things that aren't pertinent to the discussion and could derail the thread--like debating the merits of X religion or Y political party. 

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 15, 2009, 09:52:17 AM
You know, I think everybody has some version of this to deal with.  People just naturally make assumptions.  It's part of getting to know one another.  Especially if you're talking about the possibility of making a romantic connection.

So you're very tall - "Did you play basketball?  What's the weather like up there?"

Very short - "Why do short girls always take all the tall guys?"

Very fat - "I lost a lot of weight on Jennie Craig; have you tried that?"

Very thin - "Are you anorexic?"

Black, white, yellow, red, brown, accent...something different from whatever you are...you name your question.

As for me, I was a military brat.  Born in Spokane, Washington, USA.  Lived there maybe a couple of months, I don't really know.  Met my career military husband in the Philippines.  I've lived all over the world, from Hong Kong to Germany, from Alaska to Panama.  I've moved nearly 40 times in my life, never staying in one place more than a few years.

When people ask where I'm from, I never know what to say.  If I tell them the truth, "Nowhere and everywhere - we're a military family."  I have to listen to whatever their particular political prejudices are and they're often quite ignorant and judgmental and rude.  

It's easy for us all to believe that we're the only ones dealing with these problems and be defensive and rude and smart-alecky right back.

But I've found that's never the way to go.

It's best to just say something innocuous from the getgo.  Like, "I've moved a lot but I'm from here now and I really like the people around here, so I'm planning to stay."

And that's what I'd advise you...

"My family is originally from Lavenderland and I know I still have the accent, but we moved here when I was quite small, so I don't remember much about it.  I'm from here now..."


Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 15, 2009, 10:40:22 AM
And the answers to the euphemisms:

Purple- the language spoken as a first language in the most countries in the world, as well as an umbrella term created by the US Census (I think) to designate people whose ancestry came from one or more countries that spoke this language. Countries near each other (a large part of the world) that speak Purple are designated as Purple World.

Grapeland- the mother country of the Purple World, where the Purple language originated.

Lavenderland- the USA took it away from Grapeland and still has it.

Since people here use euphemisms so often, I decided to use them as well. Don't know how relevant the specific countries and languages are.

Sounds to me like "Arabic."  And "Muslim World."  And "Iraq."

And if that's right, I can see why it would make things more difficult.

I will add that I have a good friend to whom this all applies.  Whenever she's asked where she's from, she says Lebanon.  When I asked her why, she just shrugged and said, "Makes things easier. Nobody ever has any questions about Lebanon."




Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 15, 2009, 10:56:17 AM
Nope, though Purple = Latin x Arabic x mysterious language isolate.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 15, 2009, 11:01:46 AM
..."mysterious language isolate"?

I'll tell you one thing.

You're a hoot.  I wish you were my friend.




 
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: sparksals on December 15, 2009, 11:07:41 AM
I'm very confused, to be honest.  I can see why you may be experiencing problems in social situations if you are as vague in person as in this thread.  From your explanation of the euphemisms, I have absolutely no idea what any of them are.  I'm not from the US, but live here.

Edited to correct spelling.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Wendy Moira Angela Pan on December 15, 2009, 11:11:00 AM
Sounds like Spanish to me. I know that Spanish has both Latin and Arabic influence.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 15, 2009, 11:11:12 AM
I'm very confused, to be honest.  I can see why you may be experiencing problems in social situations if you are as vague in person as in this thread.  From your explanation of the euphanisms, I have absolutely no idea what any of them are.  I'm not from the US, but live here.

I've lived in the US and I'm incredibly confused.  My guess was the OP was from Puerto Rico.  I have no idea if that's even remotely correct.

To the OP:  I think that *if* your ancestry/background is a big deal at all it's because you're making it one.  The more vague you are, the more people are going to wonder what is going on.  It's like waving a big red flag. You're turning it into a much bigger issue than it is.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 15, 2009, 11:12:43 AM
I'm very confused, to be honest.  I can see why you may be experiencing problems in social situations if you are as vague in person as in this thread.  From your explanation of the euphemisms, I have absolutely no idea what any of them are.  

Is confusing, but a kind of intriguing puzzle.

The language spoken by the most people is Chinese.  Spanish is second.

But the language spoken as the first language in the most countries is Arabic.  24.  I think, anyway.

And I've never heard countries in which Spanish is spoken referred to as "Spanish World."

Not sure what any of this has to do with the original conundrum but, like I said, an intriguing puzzle nonetheless.

Hard to imagine that being from Puerto Rico would be some huge issue.




Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Veronica on December 15, 2009, 11:17:53 AM
OP- you are way overcomplicating this.  For some reason I always thought you were Hispanic and born in Mexico.  If this is how you're acting with your dates it might not be that they care at all about your ancestry, just that they think you're acting really, really odd about it. 
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 15, 2009, 11:24:32 AM
Red is right.  ;D

The US's southern neighbor's euphemism is Indigoland. :D
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Red1979 on December 15, 2009, 11:30:42 AM
Whiterose,

I think you need to step back a bit.  Most people are not going to realize that being from Puerto Rico (which is a part of the US) is such a sensitive issue.  While I could see some heritages and ancestry being problematic due to current military conflicts or political divides--Puerto Rico is just not one of them.  And in Florida, being of latin descent is incredibly common.

I think perhaps what is happening is that people are extremely puzzled that you are acting so oddly about your background.  If I met you and found out you grew up in Puerto Rico, I'd probably say "I've heard it's very beautiful there and a nice vacation spot."  According to your posts that comment would make you very paranoid and uncomfortable.  Then I'd start to wonder what was going on and I'd be quite confused.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 15, 2009, 11:31:56 AM
Red is right.  ;D

The US's southern neighbor's euphemism is Indigoland. :D

Whew.  Thank God that's settled!


Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 15, 2009, 11:52:40 AM
Whiterose,

I think you need to step back a bit.  Most people are not going to realize that being from Puerto Rico (which is a part of the US) is such a sensitive issue.  While I could see some heritages and ancestry being problematic due to current military conflicts or political divides--Puerto Rico is just not one of them.  And in Florida, being of latin descent is incredibly common.

I think perhaps what is happening is that people are extremely puzzled that you are acting so oddly about your background.  If I met you and found out you grew up in Puerto Rico, I'd probably say "I've heard it's very beautiful there and a nice vacation spot."  According to your posts that comment would make you very paranoid and uncomfortable.  Then I'd start to wonder what was going on and I'd be quite confused.


Not if that was all I heard. If they say that, I will say yes it is nice to visit, that I prefer living here, and bean dip.

Problem is that random people stereotype (or worse). I do not know if it is cognitive dissonance or what.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Wendy Moira Angela Pan on December 15, 2009, 11:59:48 AM
Well, there are stereotypes about all people from every walk of life. People with glasses, office workers, musicians, redheads, politicians, homemakers, librarians, bankers, actors, people with tattoos, women who wear skirts, women who wear pants, men with long hair, whatever. If you have any identifying details about you at all, some one will probably use it to jump to conclusions about you. Probably without even realizing it. And there's nothing you can do about that. As people get to know you, they will realize that their preconceived notions are false. If they hang onto them, despite knowing you well enough to realize they're wrong, that's when you know that the person may not be worth knowing.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Hanna on December 15, 2009, 12:04:21 PM
Sheesh - I thought you were from someplace where they eat their young from the description.
I'm not sure what there is negative to say about Puerto Rico.  It sounds like a lovely place to me.
It seems you are experiencing what all of us regularly experience when we move from one place to another.

I am from Kentucky.  I can tell you at least 6 negative stereotypes of the place.  When someone mentions that I must not have worn shoes, or must be poorly educated I smile and play along with it.  But I know that what their comment is telling me is all about them, rather than about my beautiful homestate.

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Wendy Moira Angela Pan on December 15, 2009, 12:16:01 PM
Hanna, I think it's less that people think negative things about Puerto Rico specifically and more like, "Puerto Rican, eh? Yowza! I hear the chicks are spicy there!"
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: camlan on December 15, 2009, 12:21:51 PM
Until the recent updates, I was thinking whiterose might be from Cuba. I could sort of understand getting questions about how one was able to leave Cuba and get to the US. I'm a little surprised that being Puerto Rican causes so many problems in Florida. I thought there was a fairly large population of Puerto Ricans in Florida?

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: sparksals on December 15, 2009, 12:25:54 PM
Whiterose,

I think you need to step back a bit.  Most people are not going to realize that being from Puerto Rico (which is a part of the US) is such a sensitive issue.  While I could see some heritages and ancestry being problematic due to current military conflicts or political divides--Puerto Rico is just not one of them.  And in Florida, being of latin descent is incredibly common.

I think perhaps what is happening is that people are extremely puzzled that you are acting so oddly about your background.  If I met you and found out you grew up in Puerto Rico, I'd probably say "I've heard it's very beautiful there and a nice vacation spot."  According to your posts that comment would make you very paranoid and uncomfortable.  Then I'd start to wonder what was going on and I'd be quite confused.


Not if that was all I heard. If they say that, I will say yes it is nice to visit, that I prefer living here, and bean dip.

Problem is that random people stereotype (or worse). I do not know if it is cognitive dissonance or what.

I have an accent, so I'm told.  People are genuinely curious.  Sure, I get some of the standard 'eh' and 'aboot' jokes which do wear thin, but they all come from interest and genuine kindness.  I would think very odd your reaction to the questions which are a normal part of making conversation, getting to know you, breaking the ice thing.  

It sounds like you are the one making this a big deal, not the person asking about it.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Hanna on December 15, 2009, 12:38:03 PM
Hanna, I think it's less that people think negative things about Puerto Rico specifically and more like, "Puerto Rican, eh? Yowza! I hear the chicks are spicy there!"
I think I must be remembering something from an old thread where whiterose indicated her hometown had a bad reputation.
Honestly, I've been curious since then.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 15, 2009, 01:07:01 PM
   I also agree actually knowing where we were talking about wold help ....just to pick random offensive stereotype vs actual conversation vs clueless 

Oh your from Russia were you a mail order bride?  what was it like being a child while so many vast political changes were happening ? What stuff did you have to trade for bluejeans ? (in 80's it was common knowledge that bluejeans were highly traded black-market item)

Trying to be so vague , there's normal ice breaking/getting to know you conversation then there's odd stereotypes and there's blatant bigotry, we're having to imagine so much of the conversation that it's actually hard to tell and form an answer.

the context of the questions matter too , dodging a question will just get more curiosity back.  How much of an answer you can get away with depends on who's asking.   


Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 16, 2009, 10:58:02 AM
Well, today somebody asked me after I helped her at the library.

I gave the answer directly and matter of fact- but in a very stern tone and with a square face. She asked how long had I been here in the USA, and I replied "14 years and I am very happy here".

Transaction ended. We wished each other to have a nice day.

Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: camlan on December 16, 2009, 11:23:41 AM
Well, today somebody asked me after I helped her at the library.

I gave the answer directly and matter of fact- but in a very stern tone and with a square face. She asked how long had I been here in the USA, and I replied "14 years and I am very happy here".

Transaction ended. We wished each other to have a nice day.

Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

I thought you might be from Cuba not because of the black beans and rice, but because of the language (Spanish is very widely spoken around the world), the reference to the tropics and the bit about women swaying their hips, which is sort of a Caribbean stereotype. Add in the men having issues with where you came from, and my top guess was Cuba, partly because I just didn't think anyone would have issues with someone coming from PR. I think I may also have been influenced by things you've said in other threads, as well, but I can't remember specifics.

In my experience, lots of ethnic cuisines cook beans and rice--Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish and probably others that I can't recall right now. The only thing "beans and rice" would suggest to me would be Hispanic, and since that covers Spain, most of South America, parts of the Caribbean, Mexico and Puerto Rico, it doesn't help much in narrowing things down. And there are also a lot of non-Hispanic people who cook beans and rice. I do at least twice a month and I'm Scotch/Irish.

Your accent makes you stand out a bit, especially if, as I gather, it is also influenced by some other language/country that one of your parents is from? Unfortunately, people ask about things that make you different. My nephew gets asked about his wheelchair and why he has one. I have a scar on my chin and sometimes perfect strangers ask me how I got it. The questioners aren't always polite, either.

I do think that most people are just curious about where your accent comes from. I'm sorry you have to deal with people who make judgments about you based on your accent, but perhaps you could use the accent as a sort of early warning system? It helps to clue you in to those people who you really don't want to spend much time with, anyway, because by stereotyping you because of your accent, they have revealed themselves and their true colors.

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 16, 2009, 11:40:31 AM
I have my father's Spanish accent. Both in Spanish and English.

It has been influenced mainly by the Southern accent thanks to living in the northern part of the state. I do say y'all and the sort. That, and since I roll my R's from Spanish, a lot of people think that it is an Irish or Scottish accent!
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: camlan on December 16, 2009, 12:08:26 PM
I have my father's Spanish accent. Both in Spanish and English.

It has been influenced mainly by the Southern accent thanks to living in the northern part of the state. I do say y'all and the sort. That, and since I roll my R's from Spanish, a lot of people think that it is an Irish or Scottish accent!

That's probably why you get asked about it so often--it's not a standard Spanish or southern accent or Puerto Rican accent. It's different, it's unique, so people get curious. There's probably no malicious intent behind 99% of the questions you get, just plain old curiosity.

Reminds me of a co-worker who grew up in Spain, then moved to Chile, then ended up in a small, rural Connecticut town with a large population of Puerto Ricans. They all could understand her Spanish, but always asked where she was from. She, on the other hand, could understand their Spanish, but got completely lost with the PR vocabulary.

I have a cousin with a thick Boston accent who moved down south. After 25 years, he still has the accent, but it is overlaid with a southern drawl. No one can figure out where he is from.

The one time I broke down and asked someone where he was from, his accent was driving me nuts. His accent sounded Australian, but he was pronouncing certain words in a more Canadian way. I was trying to figure out if there was a part of Canada where everyone sounded Australian, or vice versa. So I finally asked him where he was from. He made me tell him where I thought he was from and he was impressed--he was born in Canada, but moved to Australia when he was 15. He told me no one ever got his background right, until me.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Martienne on December 16, 2009, 12:23:14 PM
My mother is from El Salvador so although I don't get too many comments about myself (not having an accent) I used to get a lot of flack about my mother when I was in school.  I agree with the person who mentioned that any stereotypes that people decide to bust out on you tell you more about themselves than anything you should value about yourself or your home region. I got a lot of "why don't you just go back home" or "go back to Taco Bell" (which is such an idiotic comment I couldn't do anything but laugh at the person who said it). I simply realized none of those people were worthy of much thought on my part.

Most people don't know much about El Salvador other than the fact that it had a civil war in the 80s (if they even know that) so nowadays anyone who hears where I am from usually asks me if I am here because of that. It is, but I keep it pretty non-committal (my dad is from the US, so I tell them that it was to be near his family, and if they ask how old I was I tell them I was six months old, so they can do the math if they want). I used to share more because I was learning more about it myself and it usually just kind of spilled out, but I realized that it made people pretty uncomfortable. Unless we are very close they don't really need to know the details of how the war affected us personally. And most people don't really want to know, they are just looking for a point of inters to make conversation.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Giggity on December 16, 2009, 12:56:27 PM
Problem is that random people stereotype (or worse). I do not know if it is cognitive dissonance or what.

I gotta be honest here.

I am 40 and have lived in Houston, Texas all my life.

The Latino population here is immense ... we have Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Spaniards, Venezuelans, Argentinians, Brazilians, and even some Puerto Ricans.

I have not once, in 40 years, EVER, heard anything negative about Puerto Ricans.

So if you got edgy about Puerto Rico with me, I'd wonder about you personally, but not about all Puerto Ricans.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Giggity on December 16, 2009, 12:59:02 PM
I have a cousin with a thick Boston accent who moved down south. After 25 years, he still has the accent, but it is overlaid with a southern drawl. No one can figure out where he is from.

And then you got Jeri Hall, whose accent just confuses everything beyond measure.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: audrey1962 on December 16, 2009, 01:04:11 PM
Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

I thought you were from Cuba, too. Why? Because you are so defensive about where you are from, as if you are ashamed. I do not wish to discuss politics or negative stereotypes, but I have heard negatives about Cuba, never about PR. Perhaps it is because I am in Detroit and we are too far north?

My family came to this country from Poland during World War I. The Detroit-area attracted many Poles to work in the auto industry, which my family did. There are lots of stereotypes about the "dumb Polack." My whole life I have heard them - and I was born here, my father was born here, and his father was born here. Yet those stereotypes still applied to me. It affected my family: we distanced ourselves from the Polish community and my father made a conscious effort not to teach us Polish (a language he speaks fluently).

Regardless, I have heard my share of bad jokes and assumptions about my lack of intelligence and common sense. There's nothing I can do about people's bigotry. If I lie or obscure my background, all it does is prevent me from learning about the bigotry sooner. Some people are just jerks - we didn't make them jerks, our actions didn't make them jerks, our lack of polite behavior didn't make them jerks and our country of origin certainly didn't make them jerks.

Then there are people who are geniunely interested in ME. I have met many people who are simply curious about my very unique last name. A woman from India had never encountered a Polish name before, a student from Russia wondered if I knew Russian, Poles have asked what town my family came from in case they are from the same town, other Americans are simply interested in "where we all came from."

I don't think you should try to deflect these questions - I don't think you can! But I don't think you should automatically assume that whenever someone asks it is automatically a negative.

One last note: When I was in college there was an article in the student newspaper about two graduate students who recently married. The story was about a tragedy that had befallen the couple - but that is not my point. It was a huge multi-page story and included a summary of the couple's first meeting and how they fell in love. She was from another country - India I think - and he was American. She said she was so lonely at University, and then she met this wonderful man who wanted to know all about her and all about India. She specifically said that she liked that he expressed an interest in India, that's what drew her to him.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Giggity on December 16, 2009, 01:06:09 PM
Audrey, you'd like being in Texas. We have a large Polish population, and we tell Aggie jokes instead of Polack ones.  ;D
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: audrey1962 on December 16, 2009, 01:08:56 PM
Audrey, you'd like being in Texas. We have a large Polish population, and we tell Aggie jokes instead of Polack ones.  ;D

I think I'd like the weather, too! It's too darn cold up here.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: RainhaDoTexugo on December 16, 2009, 01:11:25 PM
Problem is that random people stereotype (or worse). I do not know if it is cognitive dissonance or what.

I gotta be honest here.

I am 40 and have lived in Houston, Texas all my life.

The Latino population here is immense ... we have Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, Spaniards, Venezuelans, Argentinians, Brazilians, and even some Puerto Ricans.

I have not once, in 40 years, EVER, heard anything negative about Puerto Ricans.

So if you got edgy about Puerto Rico with me, I'd wonder about you personally, but not about all Puerto Ricans.

I'm in Chicago, and I've definitely heard the feisty Puerto Rican women stereotypes, as well as a few regarding their general intelligence.  The feisty one is much more common, in my experience.  I do agree that negative stereotypes about Puerto Ricans seem less common than those about other Hispanic groups here.

Either way, I think it's a great early warning system.  Friendly questions are one thing, but even if you weren't Puerto Rican, wouldn't you want to know that the person you're dating is a bigot and not worth your time?
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 16, 2009, 02:23:18 PM
Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

My family came to this country from Poland during World War I.

Then there are people who are geniunely interested in ME. I have met many people who are simply curious about my very unique last name. A woman from India had never encountered a Polish name before, a student from Russia wondered if I knew Russian, Poles have asked what town my family came from in case they are from the same town, other Americans are simply interested in "where we all came from."

I don't think you should try to deflect these questions - I don't think you can! But I don't think you should automatically assume that whenever someone asks it is automatically a negative.

And then there are people like me.  I'm primarily interested in finding out if you or your family have any great recipes.

Sofrito?  Pierogi?

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: audrey1962 on December 16, 2009, 02:36:16 PM
Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

My family came to this country from Poland during World War I.

Then there are people who are geniunely interested in ME. I have met many people who are simply curious about my very unique last name. A woman from India had never encountered a Polish name before, a student from Russia wondered if I knew Russian, Poles have asked what town my family came from in case they are from the same town, other Americans are simply interested in "where we all came from."

I don't think you should try to deflect these questions - I don't think you can! But I don't think you should automatically assume that whenever someone asks it is automatically a negative.

And then there are people like me.  I'm primarily interested in finding out if you or your family have any great recipes.

Sofrito?  Pierogi?

Pierogi - cheese only, although Grandpa liked the sauerkraut. My father jokingly mocks the potato as being for amateurs.

My grandma had MS and requried a full-time caretaker, who was always a Polish woman who couldn't speak English. One of the Pani's taught me how to make cheese pierogi, with Grandma translating. It started with adding sour cream to milk and leaving it on the stove for two days...

I created a thread not to long ago on Christmas food traditions, including what my family typically eats:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=69807.msg1642739#msg1642739

What is sofrito?
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: RainhaDoTexugo on December 16, 2009, 02:47:55 PM
Sofrito is a seasoning mix that's a base for a lot of Latin American recipes.  It usually has onion, cilantro, maybe peppers and other spices.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Jaymes on December 16, 2009, 03:03:17 PM
Sofrito is a seasoning mix that's a base for a lot of Latin American recipes.  It usually has onion, cilantro, maybe peppers and other spices.

Yes, in particular the base for many Puerto Rican dishes.

I only mention this because there are a great many innocuous reasons why folks might ask in a friendly manner where somebody is originally from.  

I'm not saying it's the polite thing to do.

I'm just saying that there are many, many reasons other than those with a negative connotation.



Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: audrey1962 on December 16, 2009, 03:04:45 PM
I'm just saying that there are many, many reasons other than those with a negative connotation.

I agree. We just had a nice conversation about traditional ethnic foods. My only after-thought is, "now I'm hungry!"
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: sparksals on December 16, 2009, 04:40:55 PM
Well, today somebody asked me after I helped her at the library.

I gave the answer directly and matter of fact- but in a very stern tone and with a square face. She asked how long had I been here in the USA, and I replied "14 years and I am very happy here".

Transaction ended. We wished each other to have a nice day.

Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

I think the assumption in this thread was made b/c you have been so vague with all the euphemisms.  Someone down thread stated, a bit defensive about your homeland. 


Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 16, 2009, 04:48:29 PM
Yes, I am defensive.

Bottom line is: I wish I had a hometown that I felt more at home in and that I was happy in and that I fit in better.  :( :'(

I was always sick with allergies back there. And something really bad happened to me- not necessarily exclusive to it, but I am glad I escaped on time. And I always knew I was different. Almost like I had "cultural identity disorder" (if such a thing exists) where I identified more with a different culture than the one my family is from or the one I was raised in. Hence it hurts so much when the hometown/ethnic background is held against me- after all, I never felt like one of them.  :( :'(
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 16, 2009, 05:02:17 PM
  whiterose I think sometime your feeling judged , just sometimes , it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

If I said to anyone "oh your from anywhere I've heard that it's lovely" all I'm doing is making pleasant conversation, when you respond "yes but I like it here where I live now better"  it's sound like your answering an unspoken and I might add un-thought " you should go back there".  I would be walking on eggsshells around you.  I didn't mean to imply anything , but I would be so afraid that you would infer something I meant innocently I might subconsciously avoid talking to you. 


I hope that makes some sense ?
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 16, 2009, 06:01:44 PM
A little. But sadly, the "you should go back there" has been vocalized  :-\ Hence I am so sensitive.

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 16, 2009, 06:22:44 PM
   I'm so very sorry to hear that , please don't judge everyone by the bad apples even if it seems like their are a lot of bad apples out there ATM.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: guihong on December 18, 2009, 07:37:51 AM
   I also agree actually knowing where we were talking about wold help ....just to pick random offensive stereotype vs actual conversation vs clueless 

Oh your from Russia were you a mail order bride?  what was it like being a child while so many vast political changes were happening ? What stuff did you have to trade for bluejeans ? (in 80's it was common knowledge that bluejeans were highly traded black-market item)

I have a friend from Russia, and I asked the etiquette of this very type of question (the political changes, not being a bride, or the jeans!) a while ago.  The consensus was that as long as she had an "out" not to discuss things, it was OK, not nosy or fostering stereotypes. 

Same with Poland, if I knew Audrey in person I might ask if she'd been there and maybe a mention that the country must be fascinating to most Westerners who have never been able to see it.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: artk2002 on December 21, 2009, 04:46:42 PM
But sadly, the "you should go back there" has been vocalized  :-\ Hence I am so sensitive.

While that person was rude, you aren't unique in hearing it.  That's said to a lot of people from a lot of places.  Xenophobia is a very ugly human trait.  But acting ashamed of who you are and where you are from won't help that at all -- in fact, it just reinforces the idea that you're somehow "bad."  I truly wouldn't worry about what a bigot thought of you.  The response to "you should go back" is a(n internal) "tough, I'm here."

When I think of PR, I think of my boss, who, besides being a great friend, drank the strongest coffee that I've ever tasted.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: shhh its me on December 21, 2009, 05:56:59 PM
   I also agree actually knowing where we were talking about wold help ....just to pick random offensive stereotype vs actual conversation vs clueless 

Oh your from Russia were you a mail order bride?  what was it like being a child while so many vast political changes were happening ? What stuff did you have to trade for bluejeans ? (in 80's it was common knowledge that bluejeans were highly traded black-market item)

I have a friend from Russia, and I asked the etiquette of this very type of question (the political changes, not being a bride, or the jeans!) a while ago.  The consensus was that as long as she had an "out" not to discuss things, it was OK, not nosy or fostering stereotypes. 

Same with Poland, if I knew Audrey in person I might ask if she'd been there and maybe a mention that the country must be fascinating to most Westerners who have never been able to see it.

Yes I was at a bit of a loss....I was trying to pick something that was  blatantly rude, conversation or bizarre hopefuly innocuous  stereotype question, since each type would warrant a different response. 
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: HorseFreak on December 22, 2009, 06:14:42 AM
Well, today somebody asked me after I helped her at the library.

I gave the answer directly and matter of fact- but in a very stern tone and with a square face. She asked how long had I been here in the USA, and I replied "14 years and I am very happy here".

Transaction ended. We wished each other to have a nice day.

Maybe someone here thought I was from Cuba (euphemized as Lilacland) because in another thread I mentioned that I had cooked black beans and rice. I have been given other reasons for this assumption IRL- usually pertaining to my fair skin and Masters degree leading the person to assume automatically I am from the most affluent of the groups in the umbrella category.

I think the assumption in this thread was made b/c you have been so vague with all the euphemisms.  Someone down thread stated, a bit defensive about your homeland. 


I must admit I was sure you were referring to Cuba after reading a few posts. I spend way too much of my time trying to figure it out since you seem to think wherever you're from is such a terrible/controversial place. Being so secretive does draw a lot of attention to it which I imagine comes across when you're very short about it with strangers.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 22, 2009, 10:07:50 AM
I am surprised so many people thought of Cuba first.

Cubans are the most affluent Latino group in the USA. The most prosperous and educated.

Many people (Latino or not) have assumed I am Cuban simply because of my fair skin and Masters degree, due to Cubans being the wealthiest of the Latino communities. Then my accent and vocabulary (not using the typical Cuban diminutive form and the sort) confirm otherwise.

Growing up, I had several Cuban teachers and 3 Cuban classmates in my grade. The reputation was always that Cubans were "hard working". That they came "with the clothes on their back" but that they achieved wealth and prosperity due to hard work.

Sure sure, there may controversies with the country per se. But with Cuban Americans being the most affluent of the Latino groups, I am a bit surprised this was people's main guess.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: camlan on December 22, 2009, 11:03:00 AM
I am surprised so many people thought of Cuba first.

Cubans are the most affluent Latino group in the USA. The most prosperous and educated.

Many people (Latino or not) have assumed I am Cuban simply because of my fair skin and Masters degree, due to Cubans being the wealthiest of the Latino communities. Then my accent and vocabulary (not using the typical Cuban diminutive form and the sort) confirm otherwise.

Growing up, I had several Cuban teachers and 3 Cuban classmates in my grade. The reputation was always that Cubans were "hard working". That they came "with the clothes on their back" but that they achieved wealth and prosperity due to hard work.

Sure sure, there may controversies with the country per se. But with Cuban Americans being the most affluent of the Latino groups, I am a bit surprised this was people's main guess.

I don't know much about Cuba, I'll admit. Most of what you posted here is new to me. But, since I also didn't know any negative things about people from PR, my thoughts went to Cuba, as some people might think of illegal immigrants/Cuba and since it was pretty clear you weren't from Mexico. Not that I have issues with people leaving Cuba and coming to the US, but that's what I thought the issue might be.
Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: whiterose on December 23, 2009, 12:05:07 PM
Used these techniques today. Was having a stressful morning (internet not working leading to impatient customers and other things). One customer asked where I was from since I had an accent. I did NOT feel like discussing where I was originally from, since I was stressed out enough already. So I just told her I came from the northern part of the state (where I moved here from, so it is the truth after all). She did not press the issue, nor did the other customer who asked and got the same answer. I beandipped afterwards talking about how cold it must be there right now.

Title: Re: Deflecting hometown questions...
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 17, 2010, 09:13:02 PM
I can appreciate the feeling of not really liking where you're from, and not feeling like you fit in there.   The town I grew up in, I never really felt like I fit in.  More so as an adult than as a kid.   It's not a bad area of the state, just very built up and busy.   

We've recently moved to a town in the western part of MD (was in central) and it really suits us more.  Like the OP and Florida, this town is more like home to us, and our boys love it too.   Because we just moved last month, if people ask where we moved from, I usually tell them then smile and say "But I like it SOOO much better, here!"   

I've just had one negative comment, a few days after we moved, actually it was the boys first day at the new school.   I mentioned that we just moved to another mother, trying to make conversation.  She asked where I was from and when I told her, she snapped, "Why would you want to more HERE?"  She turned away and stopped talking to me.  I figured she just didn't like it and couldn't understand why someone would want to move here.