Open question for anybody….let’s say you are a white person, as I am, and you find yourself in a conversation with, or are starting a professional/friendly/romantic relationship with, a person of Asian heritage. You are interested in learning more about their background, as many of us find Far Eastern culture beautiful and interesting. But you’re not adept at differentiating between various Asian facial characteristics. You’d like to know about this person’s ethnic background, but understand that unless they bring it up themselves, you also understand that questions such as “what are you” or “where are you from” are considered (justifiably) as offensive and are likely to ruin the budding relationship.
So what’s the best course of action here? I know that Asian-Americans, especially women on the dating scene, do not like to be viewed as “exotic”. At times in the past, I would say something like, “if you don’t mind me asking, what is your ethnic background”, which usually will produce the answer I’m looking for and has never resulted in somebody being openly offended, but I can’t help but wonder if it registers with them that I saw them as a curiosity.
Actually, now that I’ve typed all this I think I’ve answered my own question, but I would love to hear others’ views on this. I don’t know if any Asian-Americans are reading this blog, but if you know any, consider passing this on as I’d love to get some perspective on this topic