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Letters to the Editor: I had no idea I shouldn’t ask Asian Americans ‘where they’re from.’ I’ll stop immediately

A child in a mask carries a sign that says 'Stop Asian Hate.'
Summer Trinh, 5, joins around 200 residents, students and city leaders in a march in San Gabriel on March 26 to denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism and hate crimes.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: What a wake up call!

I am one of the serial offenders, asking Asian people I meet ALL the time where they are from! My reason is that I am curious, as I have traveled for business in Asia and enjoyed it immensely.

My goal is to appreciate their country, make a connection, and maybe ask if there is somewhere they recommend I visit on my next trip.

The fact that my question is offensive was eye-opening. And I will try to not re-offend.

Kendall Wolf, Encino

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To the editor: After reading what people had to say about being asked the “dreaded question,” I want to put my experience forward.

Being of mixed heritage — my father is Chinese and my mother is tall and blond, of Scottish and German descent — I’m a mystery to people and have constantly been asked where I’m from for my entire life.

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When I’m asked where I’m from, I reply (with a big smile), “Are you asking where I live, was born, raised, or are you asking about my ethnicity?” This bluntness always takes them by surprise, and they stumble around a bit. So I come to their rescue and tell them about my heritage, of which I’m quite proud.

I don’t look on their question as an insult, or an attempt to make me the “other,” but one of curiosity and one that often sparks interesting conversation about their ancestry.

Cynthia Lum, Hermosa Beach

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To the editor: As an Anglo senior, I can’t personally relate to the ridiculous and insensitive questions asked of non-white Americans, but I can share a true story:

Many years ago my blond, blue-eyed, classically “California girl”-looking friend married her Asian American boyfriend and gave birth to gorgeous twins. They physically looked like both their parents. One day she was approached by a stranger while walking alone with the twins in a stroller. The stranger looked at her and asked, “Where did you get them?”

She replied, “From my uterus.”

Barb Kaplan, Palm Springs


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