“Where are you from?” I get this question a lot. In a lot of ways they are trying to ask me WHAT IS YOUR ETHINICITY without directly asking it. I’ve been through this sort of treatment far too many times so I naturally understand their inference and answer it to my best knowledge.
. Central U.S. Near Minnesota , sort of.” Chicago
“Where are your parents from though?”
Thailand and .” Laos
“So you’re Thai?”
“Oh no, no. I was born in
, yes. But I am not Thai.” Thailand
“You should be proud to be Thai.
’s a great country.” They said this as if I was too proud of being known as an AMERICAN that I was ashamed to claim my Thai roots. Thailand
I was shocked at this response. “WOW, that’s the first time I’d ever head that.” Then I laughed a little inside and decided that this was not a fight worth fighting.
When I tell people I’m HMONG I get one of these responses:
1) What country is that?
Um, we don’t have a country. You see… it’s a long, long, long history.
2) Oh, so you’re from
No, not exactly. I wouldn’t say that… I don’t know where to start.
3) Mong? You mean Monk? You’re a monk?
No, no, no. H.M.O.N.G.
4) Is that similar to Thai?
No. Completely different religions, cultural practices, language, customs, clothing… We share some common things but no, we’re not the same people.
5) Come again? What did you say?
This shouldn’t be such a big deal, but it is to me. I just need someone to listen, please. Perhaps I’m just too cynical about people assuming I’m every Asian race except Hmong. Being Hmong is so complicated. I mean, I could easily tell people I’m Chinese and that would be the end of the conversation. I could pull off being Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Japanese, Korean, or Taiwanese.