Do people ever question your ethnicity?

So I am Vietnamese. I'm pure Vietnamese (my parents were both born in Vietnam and moved to America as teenagers).

But people will try to guess what possible type of Asian I am, and they will never guess I'm Vietnamese, like I'll tell them after a while and then a couple months later they forget.

My best friend is Chinese and so when ever I go over her house her parent somehow think I'm Chinese like them and start specking mandarin to me...!

But I must confess I look nothing like my family... It's weird... My sister looks like combination of my parents and I manage to look like the exact opposite of her... My family are very Vietnamese looking. (Typical viet: tanner skin, chinky, charcoal black hair, very flat nose, with large nostrils, and sharper features)

So have you people ever encounter this problem?

  • Yes, all the time!
    67% (8)38% (3)55% (11)Vote
  • No...
    33% (4)62% (5)45% (9)Vote
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Most Helpful Girl

  • It happens to me almost everyday.Every single day.I am Indian and most people think I am Latina or East Asian.Just because I don't look like this link they assume I am not Indian.People are being rude.I live in Malaysia and most of the time Malay people can't stop claiming that I am Malay link I don't think I look like them at all.So that totally offends me.

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    • That awful!

      A good friend of mine, her mom is Indian but also from Malaysia like you and she's looks like a black person... I thought my friend was black when I first meant her too!

      It was weird... But I can understand how people would get confused...

    • Indians are very diverse...we have East,West,South and Northern Indian but sadly many people think that Indian only have one type of look like the link that I provided above. link link link of them do not look alike.People just need to learn more about diversity :)

    • I have to agree with petitebrunette here south Asians have many different types of looks. I am south Asian too and my cousins who live in the states have often been mistaken for Latina.

What Guys Said 17

  • Personally, no. I'm blond with blue eyes and fair skin, so people know I'm a straight cracker all the way, haha. Maybe the nationality is a little tough to guess, but I pretty much look like the English/Scottish hybrid I am, which is barely even a hybrid.

    Asians probably get that a lot though, although I'm surprised you get confused by other Asian people. I'm pretty good at picking out the various Asian nationalities at this point, and at very least I can narrow it down to southeast Asian and more northern Asians (Japanese/korean). If I can get a name as a clue its all over, I have you pegged. There are a good amount of Vietnamese people in my section of Boston that I grew up in, so I usually know them when I see them.

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    • Oh... You grew up in the Boston area? I live here right now actual... Like in a town that's near Worcester. There's a lot of Vietnamese people here! But people don't think I'm south Asian because I have bigger eyes and much paler... I actual don't look like most Asians in general... My eyes are like a soft brown instead of a pitch black and when I was born my hair was light brown... It's darker now but it's still light compared to everyone else...

    • Oh, cool, so you're buried in snow like me. Awesome, haha. Yeah, I'm from Dorchester, check it, there's lots of viet restaurants and stuff. Just kidding, never go there, its not safe, haha.

    • I have been to Dorchester and they do have a lot of viet restaurants there! And I love it in the inner city, I find it so unique with the different cultures. I live in Shrewsbury, and I hate I here, like a have a lot of friends and stuff, but living here isn't truly me... All the kids here are like rich white kids that are a bit too snooty for my taste..

  • Lol, love how you describe your own family as "chinky". No one generally does. I have had random speculation, but not much of it.

    Had a lady ask me one time if I was german because I have big hands, and yes I am part german. Had someone say my name sounds of Irish descent, and yes I am part Irish. Nothing really out of the ordinary as far as guessing goes.

    Though I guess that's more a matter of nationality and not ethnicity. Have had a couple people think I'm Native American, but that's mostly because I grew up and hang out with a lot of Natives, so they figure I must be one.

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    • I have never meant a native before...!

      But that hilarious that people thought you were native...

    • Eh, not difficult to do. During the summer, get a mild tan going, not much difference physically

  • I'm Italian and irish, so no one can tell by looking at me..so I can understand your problem. They just know I'm European, just like people only know you're Asian.

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  • Sometimes. In the summer when I have a really dark tan and a buzzcut, people think I'm Mexican/Hispanic which I actually kinda do. Doesn't help I kinda match the personalities in a way (tattoos, earrings, music, association, etc.).

    But I'm white (Irish, German and Native American). Just a tad darker than a lot of white folks, especially in my family. I just happened to show more of my Native American genes.

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  • only when I travel outside the US. In Europe and Asia they presume I may be African (basically just based on my skin color) as opposed to African American... and when I've been in the caribbean (specifically Puerto Rico) I've been asked if I'm Dominican

    of course this changes as soon as I open my mouth.

    I would say that Asian people more than anything deal with this confusion and for whatever reason most people assume a person who is Asian is Chinese.

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    • In less your my best friend who's last name is Tai, and people think she's tai, but she's really Chinese...

    • haha. I guess because people just hear Tai not realizing there should be an "h" (if it were Thailand) and as far as I know there aren't Thai people with the last name Thai

    • She gets really offended when people ask her that..

  • I'm white. No one cares what your ethnicity is if you're white.

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  • People think I'm Irish, but I'm actually an alcoholic.

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  • Because I'm so pale, people might confuse me as Irish. While I do think I have a little bit of Irish in me, I'm American born and live in America. I actually identify more with Italy and Russia than Ireland, since my dads side is Italian and my moms side is Russian

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  • People used to think I was Maori or Samoan for some reason just because I'm brown (South East Asian) lol

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  • I'm Indian but I've been asked if I was Arab or not few times. People can guess right away that I'm Indian though cause it's the easiest guess. I look completely Indian.

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    • That's the same probably my friends dad has... It's weird... Like on time they got stuck at custom services at the airport for like 3 hours because they thought her dad was a terrorist... He isn't... He just has a long beard that fluffy a stuff and its going grey because he's old. They are very Christian and her dad is a doctor that went to John Hopkins... Not a very terrorist like person I think...

  • I'm white but people thought I was Mexican when I told them where I was from, Los Gatos, California, then I have to say USA because there is a Los Gatos, California, Mexico lol

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  • People mistake me for British when I'm English :P

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  • I'm white there's nothing to question lol.

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  • Only when I go into heavily latin populated areas. As a light skinned black guy- people sometimes assume I'm either Dominican or Puerto Rican. Quite funny because all I know is "sorry, no hablo espanol"... kinda unfortunate actually.

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  • Sometimes I get Persian/Arab.

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  • Haha, no. I look like a typical American white male. What's funny is that a lot of my in-laws speak foreign languages (Russian, Portuguese, French) and whenever I bring that up, they always say "oh yeah you look like you could be Portuguese/etc). They're either full of shit or the previous statement tweaked their thinking lol. I always say "family members", omitting the fact that it's by marriage only.

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    • Oh... They probably just want you to feel welcomed!

    • lol whoops my message was unclear. I meant when I tell strangers that my family members speak the languages. The strangers are the ones who say I could pass for whatever nationality.

    • Oh... I understand... And that's funny..

  • I don't think this counts but I'm from newfoundland and went to the main land for work and when I told them where I'm from they generally ask where's my accent which for the most part is much more rare than the media would have the rest of Canada think... also we don't say A or aboot instead of about.

    I think my family is mostly irish maybe with some french. I did a family tree years ago and could only go back 3-4 generations.

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    • Wow! You come from a new found land... That's so cool! So what do speck I. Your native land?

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    • well I can understand you at least through text. :)

What Girls Said 17

  • Yeah, I have. its a mix bag. If I style my hair in a certain way, lots of people assume I'm japanese. If I go to a korean market , they assume I'm korean and start speaking to me in korean.

    Several times though, a lot of non-asians, know I'm Asian but they feel I'm not full, maybe half of something. Something about the way my nose is, its not flat, my facial structure, Once working at a Chinese restaurant, a lot of co workers assumed I was mixed. Which I don't really get, when I look in the mirror I see a full Chinese looking person! shrugs...it doesn't matter.

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  • I had a friend in HS who asked me if I was Mexican. o.O And he was dead serious. I am obviously

    I also had a lady guess my exact ethnicity which surprised me. The first thing she said when she saw me was, "You have a very Finish face. But you're not all Fin. You look half Finish and half Dutch."

    I was impressed.

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  • Yes, I'm Guatemalan and I've been questioned about my ethnicity before, mainly by people from other countries, I've been told on several occasions that "I don't look Guatemalan" not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean... But I've also been ask by other Guatemalans in the country side. So I guess I don't look like a typical Guatemalan? whatever that means.

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    • Maybe they just see enough Guatemalans from the city...?

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    • Maybe... But I think many people think Hispanics in general are supposed to have dark skin and some other features I don't have, and I think that's what they mean. The only time I've been offended by it was once when I was in Miami talking to a guy from Spain who wouldn't stop questioning me about it, and told me I couldn't be Guatemalan because I'm to white lol. In a place like Miami with all the cultural diversity you wouldn't think someone could actually be that confused about it...

    • That's rude... I would have told to go buzz off!

  • This is going to sound racist but a lot of people think "all Asians look alike," anyone with a "rag on their head" belongs to the same religion & that all Hispanics are Mexican.

    They just assume an East Asian person is Chinese.

    Or that sihks are Muslims.

    Middle Eastern people are Afghan (because of Bin Laden)

    All brown Hispanics are Mexican (since they make up the largest Hispanic population in the US).

    It's just ignorance.

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  • I knew a vietnamese girl really pale small nose I never got her confused and it was almost impossible to as much as she'd announced it to remind everyone. I encounter that problem a lot people act like they've never seen a black person with straight coal black hair and narrowed nose before lol.

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    • Oh... Sorry I meant to thumb it up.. Sorry!

      But I surprise... That's weird people would think your black..!

      And yeah usually Vietnamese people are darker because Vietnam is really hot and so people can get really dark... I'm very fair skin for some odd reason... Like I'll get a nice tan during the summer to playing tennis but I'll fade in like 2 months...

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    • That's so cool... I love to learn about new cultures!

    • It's awesome right! I hope you're taking time out in learning some Mandarin.

  • Yes all the time, it's like they thought I came out of the primitive civilisation within a few minutes of meeting them and always asking me where I am born and what is my nationality? (you mean my ethnic background). It's so personal and intrusive when you've just met the person for five minutes or a day or more. I feel like I'm always being interviewed from the police for something suspicious.

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  • No it's only happened like twice in my entire life

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    • Oh... That's good... It gets really akaward when people think your something else than what you are truely...

  • I'm Native American. I have the normal darker skin color, dark hair and dimples and almond shaped eyes. I'm not usually, but a lot of my Native friends are sometimes mistaken for being Chinese or Asian because they have a lighter skin tone. Once in a while Ill be mistaken for being Mexican, but not often.

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  • I'm Costa Rican. I've been asked if Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Indian, Hawaiian..

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  • People constantly ask me if I am Russian. I am Swedish.

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    • Oh... Russian people confuse me... One russian girl I know is like a natural super blond and blues... Do you have those traits? Maybe that's why?

    • Blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin.

  • Yes people mistaken me for japanese when I am Chinese

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    • I feel you pain!

      I'll to china town with my family and then Chinese people will start specking Cantonese to me... It gets really akaward!

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    • Oh my that's so funny... People will usually just assume for me... One time a lady asked my mom if she was Tai... I laughed!

  • Yes, all the time and I hate to be called Chinese cause I'm not.

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  • Yup. 100% Indian, but I've gotten that I look "half white," or Portuguese.

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  • I'm black, but people always stop me and tell me I have an "ethnic" look and ask me if I'm part Polynesian or Korean or if I'm from the Solomon islands.

    I think it's a mix between the fact that I have very light hair for an African American (it's a light auburn color) and almond eyes, but I can see where they're coming from at times because I do have features similar to the woman on the left link and Minzy before plastic surgery link

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    • Oh and I have an Ethopian friend who swears I must be Ethopian or Eritrean which I can definitely see in the hair link and cheekbones, but I still have a much flatter nose and face in general

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    • Yeah he cursed us all. Even though my grandma was 5'6 his genes were more dominant for the women and we're all 5'2 and shorter :( at least the men in our family are still 5'6 and over though I don't know how that worked out

    • That's funny, I think my dad is curesed too, because he's like 5'5 but all of his uncles me brothers are like over 6'0. He's the oldest too, out of 5 brothers... My grandfather is like 5''2.. He shrunk because he's old and stuff , but my grandma is like 5'7...

  • Ohhh all the time! My Asian friends always get their ethnicities mixed up too. I'm Polish, but people ALWAYS ask me if I'm Italian or Russian. I've also been asked if I'm part Arabian or Asian >.< possibly because I have dark hair and very almond shaped eyes?

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  • Yes. People mistake me for a Norwegian or a Russian quite often. I am Mediterranean.

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  • Yes. I moved to us when young and to this day people are fascinated with my ethnicity lol

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    • Oh... That's really cool... Do you think it's annoying?

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    • Middle East. That not the issue. I don't understand why people don't get it that asking personal questions abruptly is rude. It like profile ing someone. Like me asking what is your socioeconomic status? Are you employed? It's intrusive. Got to develop a rapport first.

    • yeah racial/personal profiling

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