Colour Outside the Lines #4: The Question

Hey folks! Colour Outside the Lines is back! You may have noticed that I’m not Edmund Fitzgerald. We’ve decided that we’re going to split duties for Colour Outside the Lines going forward. My thread titles will be spelled correctly.1

Since we have a lot of newcomers to the site, let me tell you what this space is all about. This thread is a discussion space/safe space for people of colour. Here are the rules, copy-pasted from the words of the significantly more eloquent Ed.2 Please familiarize yourselves with them before posting.

1) We ask that only those who identify as people of color participate in this discussion. White Avocados, while valued members of this community, should remain in ‘lurk’ mode.

2) The term ‘people of color’ encompasses a broad range of experiences. We are not a monolith. Therefore, we ask that participants respect each other’s experiences during the discussion, and refrain from promoting one particular experience as being more true to our shared identity as people of color. Furthermore, we ask that participants attempt to voice their own experiences as opposed to generalizing on behalf of the community as a whole. Of course, there are some exceptions. Participants are welcome to interrogate how shared experiences like marginalization help to forge common bonds within our community, but please remain courteous towards others in doing so.

3) We will not set clearly delineated boundaries on who qualifies as a ‘person of color’. As a starting point, this thread uses the definition of ‘non-European heritage of sufficient prominence to affect one’s navigation of a society built on white normativity.‘ However, we recognize that there are identities which skirt either side of the divide*. If people feel that they meaningfully experience the identity of being a person of color, then they are welcome to participate.

4) This is not a rule in the strictest sense, as we have no enforcement plans, but we ask that participants remind mindful of the following: we would like to keep this space as safe from white privilege as possible. Even people of color can help to perpetuate systems of white privilege. For example, people who enjoy passing privilege may not understand the experience of being a visible minority. What people of one ethnicity know about people of another ethnicity might operate through the proxy of whiteness. We simply ask that a conscious effort is made to acknowledge white privilege. Likewise, we ask that visible minorities consider the unique challenges of passing privilege when posting. Again, we are only asking that participants keep this in mind while commenting.

5) This is more or less covered by the other rules, but it deserves special attention: nobody on this thread is more or less a person of color than anyone else.

6) Shaming and hateful speech are unacceptable.

7) Please keep potentially traumatic content safely behind spoiler tags.

The Prompt

A lot of us have probably heard some variant of this question before: “Where are you from?” Sometimes it’s hostile. Sometimes it’s just making conversation. Heck, it’s probably a question that we’ve asked others before. So let’s talk about what that question means to you. How do you deal with it? What makes it offensive/inoffensive to you? Is there a way we can comfortably discuss our heritage in this day and age?

As usual, don’t feel constrained by the prompt. You can discuss whatever experiences you want. Feel free to colour outside the lines.3