I am often asked, ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘Where are you originally from?’. With my brown skin, black hair, brown eyes and Australian-South African accent, many people are curious of my origin. How do I simply reply with one country or nation when I am 5th generation Indian South African, spent my childhood growing up in Durban, lived Indian culture in my home, lived my adolescence in rural Australia, my young adult life in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Rather I am a human being with lived experiences. And my identity is my experience. So rather than asking me ‘Where am I from?’ why not ask me, ‘Where are you a local?’. I can then comfortably respond with my recent experience or perhaps share with you Westville, Durban when I recount my favourite childhood memories of playing in the yard or Albury, Australia when I think of my first time walking to school.
Taiye Selasi’s brilliant ted talk challenges us to reflect on what we mean when we ask people where are they from and why we do so. I encourage you to take the next 20mins to learn about the importance of asking people, ‘where are you a local?’.