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?
Girl: No, where are you from?
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
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?