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"Hey, Where Are You From?" Must Become Socially Acceptable Again

Screw the social just-us warriors. Where you hail from is as much a part of your genuine 'identity' as which pronouns du jour you appropriate!

Newton Crosby: Where are you from, anyway? Ben Jabituya: Bakersfield, originally. Newton Crosby: No, I mean your ancestors. Ben Jabituya: Oh, them. Pittsburgh. Short Circuit, 1986 movie

“Where you from?” I asked the dude with the accent who’d just shown up. “Me and Dennis are from the U.S.!”

I was in Montreal a few weeks ago, at the Mont Royal drumming scene where a bunch of hippie Montrealers gather every Sunday afternoon to whack the skins into the evening, with a dance pit for anyone stupid enough to dance in 27C weather. (I’m stupid enough.)

I hung out out with a vendor named Dennis from Miami (Hey! I’m from Orlando!) and we chatted for like an hour and a half before this other guy showed up. Without pitching a hissy fit about microaggressive marginalization, he simply answered. “Columbia!” I cried. “I understand it’s a great place to retire. A friend of mine is learning Spanish for it.”

Antiracist pro tip: When you ask someone where they’re from, find something good to say about their country, no matter how politically unpopular. “Saudi Arabia! Birthplace of the famous Caliph Haroun al-Rashid!” “Russia! Home of Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote one of the most beautifully-written books ever!” “Sudan! The Kingdom of Kush!” [Dear Goddess don’t let him ask me what I know about the Kingdom of Kush, which I think is like weed or something!]

And if you don’t know anything about the person’s country, just smile and go, “Wakanda! Awesome!” and then Google it later.

There’s definitely a wrong way and many better ways to ask the Unquestionable, with bad reasons and good reasons for asking, too.

A painfully funny lesson on how not to ask people where they’re from. Also, it’s pretty obnoxious to just walk up to someone and ask them. An underway conversation is better. But damn, is this a funny (if slightly immature) way to handle it!

Every American I told I was moving to Toronto informed me how marvelously wonderfully multicultural, diverse, and cosmopolitan the city is. I got tired of hearing about it. But it’s one of Toronto’s biggest appeals: It’s not perfect, but diverse people get along here better than Americans. I like to joke that if I wanted to be a racist it would be difficult because then I’d have to hang out with ‘my own kind’, and I didn’t know enough white people to do that.

We’re the New York City of Canada, with just about every culture imaginable with over 140 languages spoken.

When you’re more relaxed about differences they become less noticeable, less important, and we come together rather than self-segregate. We no longer walk on eggshells worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing. Or worse yet, engage in embarrassing virtue-signaling.

“Thank God my laundry detergent isn’t racist!” But wait, yes it is! It promotes segregation!

The ‘woke’ deem it racist to ask where people come from, but it’s racist to hierarchize people by their skin color, religion, ethnicity or culture as the wokenazis do every damn day, arbitrarily assigning ‘oppression’ and ‘victimhood’ status, the way right-wing identitarians hierarchize people by assigning biological inferiority. Where you’re from is as intrinsic to your personality and existence and identity as what you do for a living. As I’m fond of saying, you can take the American out of America but you can never take America out of the American. One’s birth country is a part of us that binds us forever to the mother country the way you can never truly deny your birth family no matter how much you cut them out of your life.

Unless you emigrate to a foreign country as a very young child, I don’t know that you ever feel ‘truly’ part of your adopted culture.

Some people don’t like talking about their culture, and some do. “It’s not my job to educate you,” some sneer, and they’re right. But others love talking about their culture and will happily answer questions and ask questions of yours, too. They’re the ones you’ll make friends with.

We’ll bring about racial equity before the ‘woke’ ever will. Despite the woke.

Mutual education brings us to greater comfort, then to laughing together, comparing our cultures, and there’s no greater bond than shared humor. Not racist humor, shared humor over the silliness inherent in all cultures. Human beings: When we look at ourselves a certain way, and especially if we’ve had a few beers and squint a little, we’re a hilarious species!

This is actually what woke social justice warriors fear: That we will come together and lose our fear of each other and those silly-ass differences.

They thrive on difference and perceived threat, just like the far right. They merely differ on who to hate. SJWs hate white people, and ‘whitenize’ others in their ever-devolving and increasingly racist view of humanity. Jews are the new white people despite being not uniformly white; Asians are getting whiteneized as a consequence of being too successful. The social just-us warriors (because they only want justice for themselves, not for all) derive their racism from lack of skin color, as the far right derives it from darker shades.

I’m coming to associate racist political extremism with mental illness, not because political ideology is crazy, but because political extremism is almost always expressed as a sublimated reaction or resistance to something else entirely. Jonathan Haidt’s new book The Anxious Generation speaks of how the people reporting the highest degree of mental health problems are young liberal, progressive women, which begs various questions: Is liberalism a mental illness or are people with mental illness encouraged to express their unrelated, pre-existing, sublimated anger via ‘social justice’ causes? Or do various political ideologies work well enough until others take good ideas too far and turn them into bad ideas?

It’s very chicken-or-egg.

I can make as much of an argument for MAGA as an expression of mental illness as I can for wokeness. Like, supporting limited but intelligent immigration is fine until it turns into a fearful Well some Muslims commit terrorist attacks so we need to ban ALL Muslims, or, Guns are needed for protection of family and property, and THERE’S NO GREATER THREAT TO EITHER THAN—EVERYONE! And, the George Floyd riots were bad but January 6th was just a fractious Capitol Hill tour! Hang the black guys, free the white ones, especially that gay cutie in the fur and horns!

Why we need to ask The Question a lot more

Asking people where they’re from is how interesting conversations start. One of the first things I did in Canada was to join social group MeetIn Toronto to make new friends. The others were there for the same reason. One of the first questions we asked, because like 90% of the people there hadn’t been born in Toronto, and a fair chunk of us not in Canada either was, “Where are you from? Oh really? How long have you been here?”

Or I’d start chatting with someone at the bus stop or in the mall and I’d share I’m from the U.S. Sometimes they’d share where they were from, sometimes I’d ask, usually if they had an accent.

Once another immigrant and I share where we’re from, we start laughing about what a pain in the ass moving to Canada is, and ask about each other’s citizenship. One Egyptian guy asked me which policy I liked better: American assimilation or Canadian multiculturalism.

We had a really interesting exchange about it.

The hysterics from the social just-us set is all for fear that somewhere in North America, there are two or three people who are super-racist and only want to know where you’re from so they can ruin your day by micro-aggressing you or something.

According to the Harvard Business Review, (yeah, we should totally take anything Harvard says about racism seriously!), asking where someone is from—are you ready for this?—quickly turns into a microaggression and “…reduces someone’s identity to a social group, a city, or a culture, and that can trigger feelings of alienation. Microaggressions can also reinforce differences and magnify unequal power structures.”

As opposed to, say, reducing someone’s identity to skin color, sexual or gender preference, quantified bloodline blend to identify distasteful white blood, and other social just-us reinforced differences correlating to woke construct power rankings?

It’s an assumed microaggression to ask someone where they’re from, but not for their pronouns or for their students to stand on the campus green and call for the elimination of another group of people they don’t like before the first body on the side they’re on falls, which absolutely positively does NOT NOT NOT reduce someone’s identity to an imagined group color or political position.

But what if you’re white?

It’s dicier to ask The Question. I understand why. There truly can be an uglier, racist assumption that if you’re not white, you’re not ‘really’ a Canadian or an American. My reason for asking is to connect with my fellow immigrants. We all have a story to tell as to how we came to Canada. Or America. It can be a microaggression, for sure, and I understand how it can alienate or offend others. I don’t like, either, the sort of anti-immigrant rants that are just about how “My neighborhood doesn’t look like me anymore.” I’m not an obvious immigrant with my skin color or my accent, so my response is usually something like an icy, “I’m an immigrant. So bite me!”

There are good ways to ask The Question, even when you’re white.

How about a big smile and offering where you’re from first? As soon as you react positively to whatever the other person responds, the conversation never goes awry. And it can be beneficial, too. An Indian woman I got friendly with on the train ride home shared an Uber with me since it turned out we were headed for the same neighborhood. I asked the driver where he was from after we chatted for a few minutes. “I’m from the United States, she’s from India,” I volunteered. “Where are you from? Oh, Jordan? Wow, that’s awesome, have you ever been to the ruins of Petra? It’s on my bucket list to visit before I die!”

The driver was happy to share more about his culture and asked me to connect with him on LinkedIn so he could offer advice whenever I decided to go. And, he was a business marketing major who had trouble finding a job, and I know freelance agencies where he might get that critical experience everyone wants before they hire you.

So it’s a good thing I asked, and that we chatted. Knowing he was an immigrant gave both my new Indian friend and I some perspective on how challenging it can be to get a real job when you’re an immigrant. I ran into discrimination when I first moved to Canada too, as an American. Canadians can be weird.

I had the same conversation with another Indian Lyft driver just last week. He needs help finding a job, too. Immigrants always need help finding a job here, since I moved here nineteen years ago. La plus ça change. I’ll bet he’s glad I asked Da Question. He asked for even more advice.

The woke left is the other half of our ugly racial division problem. Those of us who are non-hardcore on either side of the political divide can reach out to our fellow humans and bond with them. We have to reject the political extremisms that ruin our countries. We have to fight ugly identity politics. The blinders have fallen; everyone’s side has a wing of Deplorables.

Not everyone can afford to travel to other countries and experience different cultures. So let’s ask questions. We can tear down woke-constructed barriers and learn to be less afraid of each other by learning about other parts of the world whether we ever go there or not.

The ‘woke’ are psychologically damaged people forever seeking channels for their outrage. It’s one thing to fight racism, and another to be disappointed when you can’t find it. Social just-us has a vested interest in never ‘achieving victory’, even when they have: If they acknowledge we’ve won a lot of major battles, if they admit America and Canada aren’t as segregated and hateful as they once were, what have they got to live for?

Here’s one suggestion: How about climate change, which affects everyone, regardless of social condition? The world leader recently abandoned it to become an antisemitic Regressive Left Hamas groupie. Believe me, climate change will keep any SJWs out of trouble for a good century or more.

Tell me where you’re from in the comments! But only if you feel comfortable. Hey, I might be able to help you find a job….!

Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!




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