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"Common" doesn't mean that it's not a problem.

When we meet a new person, we want to know more about this person. To be blunt, the actual question, which would be suitable for this purpose, is “Who are you?”.

However, we commonly ask “Where are you from?”. This question wants to know more about our origin. Is this the right question to explain ourselves?

Our life experiences are connected mostly to places which create our memories. Our experiences depend on areas, where we were born, where we grew up, where we have been etc.

Where are we now? Where can we be ourselves?

This is a game to rethink our common questions. All the questions in the game are taken from actual conversations.

REFERENCES

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References

Allport, Gordon W. (1979) The Nature of Prejudice, 25th Anniversary Edition. New york: Wesley Publishing Company.

Amjahid, Mohamed (2017) Unter Weißen. München: Hanser Berlin.

Garner, Steve (2017) Racisms: an introduction. Second Edition. London: Sage.

Hall, Mal (2016) Bring Half Black and Half Asian, Stand-up comedy, Laughs TV Show, [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJlA4tDhWoo [Accessed 27 March 2018].

Hirsch, Afua (2018) ‘This country of mine always made me feel like I didn’t belong’, Financial times [online] 26 January. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/84b4c0a2-0097-11e8-9650-9c0ad2d7c5b5#comments-anchor [Accessed 19 April 2018].

Huynh, Q.L., Devos, T., and Smalarz, L.(2011) Perpetual Foreigner in one’s own land: Potential Implications for identity and psychological adjustment. Published in final edited form as: J Soc Clin Psychol. 2011 ; 30(2): 133–162. [Online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092701/ [Accessed 20 April 2018].

Lee, Daniel Sanghoon (2017) Woher kommst du wirklich her?, [blog] [image online] Available at: http://www.durumi.de/2017/06/02/woher-kommst-du-wirklich-her/ [Accessed 29 March 2018].

Lee, You Jae (2014) Hier bin ich ewiger Wanderer, Heimatkunde: Migrantionspolitische Portal – Heinrich Böll Stiftung, [online] Available at: https://heimatkunde.boell.de/2014/01/29/hier-bin-ich-ewiger-wanderer [Accessed 29 March 2018].

Lie, John (2011) Modern peoplehood: On Race, Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Identity. UC Berkeley: GAIA Books.

Lyer, Pico (2013) Where is home?, TEDGlobal [video online] Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_where_is_home#t-120672 [Accessed 29 March 2018].

Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration (The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration), (SVR-Forschungsbereich), (2018) „Wo kommen Sie eigentlich ursprünglich her?“ Diskriminierungserfahrungen und phänotypische Differenz in Deutschland (“So, where are you originally from?” Experiences of discrimination and phenotypic differences in Germany) [pdf] SVR-Forschungsbereich. Available as German at: https://www.svr-migration.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SVR-FB_Diskriminierungserfahrungen.pdf Available as English at: https://www.svr-migration.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SVR-FB_Experiences_of_discrimination.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2018].

Safi, Omid (2017) The problem with asking “Where are you from?”, On being [blog] 18 October. Available at: https://onbeing.org/blog/omid-safi-the-problem-with-asking-where-are-you-from/ [Accessed 23 April 2018].

Selasi, Taiye (2014) Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local, TEDGlobal [video online] Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/taiye_selasi_don_t_ask_where_i_m_from_ask_where_i_m_a_local [Accessed 29 March 2018].

Tanyılmaz, et al. (2016) Respect guide - a guide to treating others respectfully, I-PÄD: Initiative intersektionale Pädagogik, [online] Available at: http://www.i-paed-berlin.de/de/Downloads/#rgeng [Accessed 29 March 2018].

Vera Larrucea, Constanza (n.d.) In: Westin, C. eds. (2015) The Integration of Descendants of Migrants from Turkey in Stockholm. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. pp.79 - 80.

Yanabu, Leanne (2015) Where are you from? A self-documentary on origins [blog] Available at: http://olopua.com/where.htm [Accessed 4 April 2018].

Yusuf, Abeer (2015) what is home? Growing up between cultures. TEDxTerryTalks [video online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quS_pMGIlec [Accessed 31 March 2018].

Who do you want to know about?

Choose a person and talk with the person

Did you know that...

Racism can be existent in small things, Our language can make us a racist, if we express wrong assumptions according to the appearance of others. Even though we don’t have the intention of being racist, our language can make us a racist.

Did you know that...

Our life experiences are connected mostly to places and create our memories. The experiences depend on areas, where we were born, where we grew up, where we have been etc. Where we are now and where can we be ourselves? “Where are you local?” means “Where can you be yourself” This question focuses on ourselves. Where we want to be a local is also our decision.

Did you know that...

Even though the questioner has no intention to offend or make others feel uncomfortable, the responder, who has to answer this question, can feel discriminated.

Did you know that...

Depending on culture, ethnicity, society, and historical relationship, personal individuality is classified as a stereotype. That is part of racism. The question “Where are you from?” is a starting point for this classification.

Did you know that...

People are moving more worldwide through migration and flight. In the future, there will be more people who have multiple backgrounds. However, we still have a stereotyped idea of a correlation between nationality, race, and ethnicity. And this stereotyped idea has become aggressive for some people.

Did you know that...

Now, where we come from is much less important than where we’re going. More and more of us are rooted in the future or the present tense as much as in the past. And home, is the place where I stand. Where I can be myself.

Did you know that...

The common perception that a person has a different cultural or individual behaviour according to race or ethnic groups is racist. This belief may be based on an assumption of biological differences and hierarchy between different ethnic groups.

Did you know that...

We should try to see a person only as an individual, not his/her ethnicity or nationality. Our prejudices are not working anymore in multi-ethnic societies. We should not force immigrants to be integrated in our society. We should also integrate ourselves in the multi-ethnic society.

Did you know that...

Belonging is a foundational human need. However, the question “Where are you from?” does not give everyone the feeling of ‘belonging’. We ask the question more often, when someone looks different than our common conception.

Did you know that...

Nationality and culture are just one part of a person. Neither nationality and culture can be represented by one person nor can one person represent his/her culture or nationality. One single person can only explain something based on his or her experience.

Did you know that...

Racism can be existent in small things, Our language can make us a racist, if we express wrong assumptions according to the appearance of others. Even though we don’t have the intention of being racist, our language can make us a racist.

Did you know that...

The question “Where are you local?” asks people about their personal ‘belonging’. There is no connection with nationality and ethnicity. Where we are local, reflects our daily life. It represents our relationships with the family, friends, neighbors. We can be a local at a place, where we have lived in the past or where we are living now.

Did you know that...

We believe that different appearance means different characteristics and different nationality. Through the question “Where are you from?”, we want to confirm our own beliefs. In fact, these beliefs are racist. Racism is the belief that people can be defined as groups according to their descent and that these groups have specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities.

Did you know that...

Through this question, multi-background people are differentiated from others, even though they are living with us. The question makes multi-background/immigrant people feel that they are strangers in their local society.

Did you know that...

Belonging is a foundational human need. However, the question “Where are you from?” does not give everyone the feeling of ‘belonging’. We ask the question more often, when someone looks different than our common conception.

Did you know that...

The common perception that a person has a different cultural or individual behavior according to race or ethnic groups is racist. This belief may be based on an assumption of biological differences and hierarchy between different ethnic groups.

Did you know that...

We should try to see a person only as an individual, not his/her ethnicity or nationality. Our prejudices are not working anymore in multi-ethnic societies. We should not force immigrants to be integrated in our society. We should also integrate ourselves in the multi-ethnic society.

Did you know that...

Nationality and culture are just one part of a person. Neither nationality and culture can be represented by one person nor can one person represent his/her culture or nationality. One single person can only explain something based on his or her experience.

Did you know that...

The question “Where are you from?” is focused on differentiation by nationality. It brings up prejudices about one person according to their nationality or birth place. Each human is different. However, explaining this difference by using the question is problematic.

Did you know that...

The question “Where are you local?” tells us so much more about who and how similar we are. There are not so many strong standards to decide where I am local. To be a local, we don’t need a passport or nationality. In the concept of locality, the difference between ethnicity, nationality, and cultures become less important.

Did you know that...

How can we come from a nation? How can a human being become a part of a nation? A human is a creature. The country, which we are born in, expands, dies or contracts. It is hard to use the concept of nationality to explain a human being.

Did you know that...

Even though the questioner has no intention to offend or make others feel uncomfortable, the responder, who has to answer this question, can feel discriminated.

Did you know that...

When we ask someone, “Where are you from?”, we always have expectations. We expect the answer of the question would be a nationality. The question already has a fixed idea about race, appearance, and nationality. With the question “Where are you from?”, ethnic stereotypes and ethnic nationalism are strengthened.

Did you know that...

Nationality and culture are just one part of a person. Neither nationality and culture can be represented by one person nor can one person represent his/her culture or nationality. One single person can only explain something based on his or her experience.

Did you know that...

“Where are you from?” by itself might indicate mere curiosity. But a subsequent “Where are you really from?” can convey that the questioner sees the responder as an outsider in their own country.

Did you know that...

Nationality and culture are just one part of a person. Neither nationality and culture can be represented by one person nor can one person represent his/her culture or nationality. One single person can only explain something based on his or her experience.

Did you know that...

We usually never ask about sexual identity when we meet a person for the first time, even though we want to know more about that person. We know that asking about sexual identity is a sensitive question. Similarly, the question “Where are you from?” might be sensitive and hard to answer. Someone always has to explain his/her family background story to meet our expectation or racial prejudice.

Did you know that...

Replacing the language of nationality (“Where are you from?”) with the language of locality (“Where are you local?”) asks us to switch our focus to where the real life happens.

Did you know that...

Why do we think that knowing about someone’s individual human race and ethnicity is essential to learn more about a new person? Usually, people of unique appearances get this question asked more often. For them, questions about their origin or background have a very differrent meaning than to the majority people of the society.

Did you know that...

How can we come from a nation? How can a human being become a part of a nation? A human is a creature. The country, which we are born in, expands, dies or contracts. It is hard to use the concept of nationality to explain a human being.

Did you know that...

Frequently, people, who observe such situations, find it ‘excessive’, when the person being discriminated against defends themselves. After all, it ‘wasn’t meant that way’. Precisely these situations are very difficult for people who do not regularly experience discrimination to understand. However, they may be just as hurtful as deliberate insults.

Did you know that...

When we ask someone, “Where are you from?”, we expect the answer to this question would be a nationality. The question already has a fixed idea about race, appearance, and nationality. With the question “Where are you from?”, ethnic stereotypes and ethnic nationalism are strengthened.

Did you know that...

Frequently, people, who observe such situations, find it ‘excessive’, when the person being discriminated against defends themselves. After all, it ‘wasn’t meant that way’. Precisely these situations are very difficult for people who do not regularly experience discrimination to understand. However, they may be just as hurtful as deliberate insults.

Did you know that...

“Where are you from?” by itself might indicate mere curiosity. But a subsequent “Where are you really from?” can convey that the questioner sees the responder as an outsider in their own country.

Let’s think

about the question

“Where are you from?”

What do we really want to know from this question?

How do we already define the person through this question?

We are all citizens of the world, eventually.

TALK WITH OTHERS

Let’s think

about the question

“Where are you local?”

“Where are you a local?” asks us to where the real life happens.

If we compare the questions “Where are you from?” and “Where are you local?”,

which question lets people above happily share and

explain their story to other people?

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