“You’re not from Ireland”

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Last weekend. An encounter. 

A friend of mine got talking to a couple on the way, my friend offered the lady a lighter in exchange for a cigarette. He proceeded to have what seemed to be a great conversation with the guy, while the girl decides to converse with me. Hmm…

(Now, I understand this might not translate well in text, but imagine both my tone and the little ladies getting snarkier and snarkier, fake smiles and all. Yknow I got this betch.)

Girl: Where are you from?

Me: Dublin

Girl: No, where are you from?

Me: Dublin? 

Girl: You’re not from Dublin. Where are you from?

Me: Hmm… Ireland.

Girl: Stop. You’re not from Ireland. Where are you from?

Me: Mmm… and what does it take to be Irish?

Girl: Well.. eh… you have to be born in Ireland.

Me: I was.

Girl: Well. My mother reared me well. That was very ignorant.

Me: Mmm Okay 

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Listen lady, I say things like “What’s the craic?”, “Story?”, “Sure, be grand”, “Feck off”, and the sometimes very crucial. “Yer ma”. I get offended when people say “Top of the morning” in supposedly Irish movies, I am not impressed by Gerard Butler’s attempt at the Irish accent, and most importantly, lady, I feel Irish.

“Where are you from?” is a question that I hear on a daily basis. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t even mind being asked “Where are you from originally?” or even “but like, why are you black?”. I’m used to it. I even enjoy the occassional “and where did you learn English. It’s very good” (I AM AN ENGLISH TEACHER) but to have the audicity of telling me straight out that I am not from the country that I most identify with well, excuse my Gaeilge, but you can go and shite!

I’ll put my hands up in the air and say, No I was not born in ireland, I was raised there, but with such urgency I wanted to know what this woman really thought. Don’t get me wrong, my Arab/African “origin” is a huge part of my life, this is not me rejecting it. I am so proud of it. Suprisingly, it’s a universal problem. When I go back to Sudan, and I rarely do, I’m “the foreign one” eventhough I “look the part” there. (-ish, my style is far too “quirky”). #labels

To me the question “Where are you from?” is a personal one. For some, it’s a complicated one. I’m not going to give you my history of every country I’ve ever been or lived in, it’s a loooooong story, you’re a passerby, you don’t need to hear it, unless you want to, with genuine interest, over a cup of coffee. It’s interesting. It’s very interesting to hear where different people call their home, but making assumptions about it, isn’t really something that belongs in the current multicultural society that we live in. It’s 2016, so tell me why, tell me now, after 19 years, why doesn’t the place that I have accepted, not accept me?

I AM TIMI writes a great post about this very subject and I am 100% behind it. Read it here.

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17 thoughts on ““You’re not from Ireland”

  1. I get the question all the time but obviously my accent gives it away… Having said that, I don’t feel entirely Irish but I’m not really French anymore… I’m just stuck in between 😉 My husband used to make up stories to people who asked the question. He’s from Mauritius and used to work in hotels, so you can imagine the amount of times he had to answer about his origins. He came to Ireland at 22 years old, so wasn’t reared here but his capacity to put on a Dublin accent was leaving people very puzzled. He took great pleasure in confusing them! Having said that, I can understand people asking the question, but not believing the answer is something else! I’ve usually come across Irish people who were very curious but not judgemental. My husband has had the same experiences over time but maybe we were just lucky…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think in this day and age we live in such a multi-cultural society that everyone should be allowed to identify with wherever they feel. The worlds shook up – embrace it! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

    • Well, you see… That’s what I thought! I answered but she wouldn’t let it go and this is a complete stranger who I’ve never met before. Yet she wants to tell me where I’m from? Do you get what I mean?

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  2. I feel you… I have been born and lived in the same country for most of my life however my parents wanted me to be fluent in English (because they were smart and knew I’d get more job opportunities if I were fluent, not like people who only learn English in Middle or High School). Therefore it is rather frustrating when people who “look and sound the part” of a “true” born and bred countryman ask me (sometimes violently) where I am from or even worse, why am I faking a British accent. I mean, it is the way I talk and the way I identify myself as, why should I speak, sound and look the same as everyone else?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would start to get really annoyed in your situation. Once you tell a person where you are from, they should just realize that we are in the 21st century and a lot of countries are not multicultural. Great post by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to have a similar problem and I would avoid answering to this question because of the stereotypes. It was back when UKIP was doing their propaganda and some people were actually believing them. We are all people, what does it matter where we come from, that doesn’t make us who we are!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so frustrating isn’t it. Does it really matter where people come from? I live in the countryside and people assume I live on a farm and ride horses, or I’m rich. I’m none of those!

    Ami xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Te definition of madness is trying something over and over again and expecting a different result. When you keep trying to fit a circle into a square, you’ll eventually drive everyone else mad!

      Like

  6. Completely sympathise with you. I’m half Chinese and so no one can ever place where I’m from but it’s obvious I’m not fully white. I even hate the question “Where are you from originally” because my answer is the same. I am originally from England. I have lived in England my whole life and my mum has been here for most of her life too. It pisses me off soo much >.<

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I get this where I live, I was born in Wigan but grew up down south because of my dads job then when I turned 19 I moved back to here I considered home but yet because I don’t have the accent from round here I am not a ‘Wiganer’ it drives me insane! It makes no odds how I speak, its the only place I have ever considered my home

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So she asked you where you are from, you lied about where you are from and then got annoyed with her? I have been asked many times where I am from – it is a conversation starter. It seems like when asked you got completely uptight because you assumed she was asking it because you don’t look like a stereotypical Irish person. I have lived in Dublin for 15 years and am in the process of buying a house here and intend to continue living in Dublin however when I get asked this I say ‘I am from Cavan but I have lived in Dublin for years now’. What would’ve been wrong with just being honest with her saying you are from Sudan but were brought up in Ireland and have lived here your whole life?

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    • Again Anne, that’s not the point. I am saying that we should be living in a time where people have the freedom to identify from whatever place they feel is their home. It’s not her place to tell me how to answer that question and frankly, it’s not yours either.

      Like

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