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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 3, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Discrimination: Asking about one’s nationality is not microagression

In response to Megan Yeggy who commented about favoring people who are more like ourselves [“Favoring like people: Fix daily bias,” Northwest Voices, May 25], I agree there are many ways for discrimination to rear its ugly head.

However, simply asking someone what his or her nationality is or where he or she is from does not constitute racial microaggression. To the contrary, consciously taking interest in someone who is clearly of a race other than our own should come across as more of an act of kindness, rather than racial discrimination or microaggression.

I have asked someone who is obviously of another race than I am, “Would you mind if I ask where you are from? … or, what nationality you are?” I have never encountered a negative reaction, and sometimes their answer would lead to an interesting conversation about their country, culture or how different life is here for them. In a few minutes I gain some knowledge, see life from another’s perspective and expand my “familiar zone.”

So, in retort to Yeggy’s statement, “until microaggressions are addressed and people no longer feel the need to say these things,” I will continue to take an interest when opportunity arises, not because I feel the “need to says these things,” but because I am genuinely interested in expanding my familiar zone.

Sonia Tanielian, Bellevue

Comments | More in Race | Topics: discrimination, ethnicity, race

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