Is It Racist to Ask People Where They’re From?

[A discussion of someone’s ethnicity] took place at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is organized by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute, during a panel discussion on The Race Card Project, a four-year-old effort by NPR host Michele Norris to solicit people’s frank, unfiltered thoughts on race in bite-sized, six-word essays. She’s received tens of thousands of responses from people in 63 countries.

“One of the most common submissions to The Race Card Project is some formulation of, ‘So, where are you really from?’ ”

Norris said. “To a lot of people that hits their ear the wrong way. It feels like someone is trying to point out their otherness: ‘You’re quite obviously not American, so where are you from?’ ”

But, but, but if diversity makes us stronger, why is it an insult? After all, we are continuously told to “celebrate our diversity.”  

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