You, as an individual, have every right to be curious about the people around you. Questions are always welcome. However, how you ask them, can have consequences of negatively affecting the person you’re asking.
I have lost count of the amount of times someone has asked me “Which parent is white?” when asking me about my racial background. Normally I calmly respond how both of my parents are mixed race, and I still do, but I’ve come to realize the issues with that particular question.
- The assumption that every mixed race person, particularly a light-skinned mixed race person, has a white parent.
- The assumption that every mixed race person has white descent in general, whether they are light-skinned or dark-skinned.
Both of my parents have white descent, therefore, I happen to have white descent, but placing mixed race identity in a simple binary isn’t good because every mixed race person is has a variety of mixes and backgrounds.
Moreover, when people ask which parent is white, it comes across as if multiracial identity is beautiful only if whiteness is somewhere in the mix. That’s not cool.
I love conversations where people ask “How do you identify?” instead of immediately asking “Which parent is white?” I love conversations where people ask me what growing up was like in the backgrounds I identify with, instead of probing at how “exotic” I am because of blackness mixed with whiteness.
Just food for thought. Let me know what you think.