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What is the best way to respond to deeply personal questions from complete strangers?

This happens to me once every few years. Strangers on the street will ask what my racial background is. I'm 100% Caucasian but my mother had the Rachel Weisz look in her youth and I have Josh Harnett eyes.


I do look quite a bit like this and no I am not complaining.

Here's an example. A few years ago I'm in a grocery store at a posh mall in the city. This white guy, well dressed, about 45, walks up to me and starts telling me that I'm fortunate to have a mixed background for genetic reasons. He then launched into a scientific explanation of why this is so.I took him for a prof at the nearby university. (By the way he was talking to someone his own age not a kid.)

At times I have thought about responding with, "Didn't your momma teach you any manners?" but then whenever it happens I am always at a loss for words.
tynamite's avatar I don't know why such a question would bother you, so I hope my answer
will help you. First things first, I would get science out of the way.
All being mixed race does is protect you from genetic diseases. I'm sure people don't regularly ask you that question because of science. Asking what background you're from is a personal question, but it's not really an invasive one I don't think. I hope you understand why they're asking this.

As human beings, we like to put people into categories, and like to map people out, so we can identify with them. I'll explain what this means. We don't just like to know the things that we have to say, but we also like to know what sort of person said them. When we talk to strangers online, we like to know what they look like. When we use Quora, we like to know their real names and their mini bio. We like to know the identity, behind the voice. We like to identify with people, and take off their mask. This is not something we do to judge people, it's something we do to understand people. Humans are social creatures, so we like to identify with the people around us, and know what sort of person they are.

In the same way you like to know whether people online are male or female, how old their are, or where they live; people in real life like to know what ethnicity you are. It's the same thing! It can be foolish to not know what sort of person we are talking to. Imagine if on Quora we couldn't know where people lived, and what their gender were. Even counsellors are taught to keep people's sexuality and race into account when counselling them, so they can't see them as a tabula rasa.

It sounds like an invasive question, but it truly isn't. The people who are asking it just want to be able to understand you, and most likely they're saying it because they like you as a person, or would like to. These people are not judging you and are just asking it out of interest. I wouldn't pay it any mind. Those people don't mean any invasive or bad intentions by it.

When asked this question next time, just answer the question. There's some people who are friends in a uni club I go to, who look slavic, Russian or Romanian to me, and one of them where I was from heritage wise, and I answered it. It's nothing invasive or big. In your case, it just means that you're good looking, and people can't put their finger on what your look is. You should be feeling special right now you silly person!
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What's an assertion, and what should I type in?

Compesh is a question and answer (and debate) website, so before you make a debate, you better learn what an assertion is. I suppose you already know what a question is, and that you've typed it in the box. ;)

An assertion, is basically a statement you can make, that is either true or false.

Richer people have better health.

The question for that would be, Do richer people have better health?

And don't forget to make your assertion, match your question.

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