“Why is your hair so curly?” he said to me and before I could catch my breath he proceeded with a “and why is it so short”
I was 10 years old at the time but I had been in my new international school for maybe two weeks. As you can imagine some sort of confusion crept into me.
“Why would anyone ask me such a thing?
“Did my hair texture make me uncool to him?”
“Should I grow it out?”
I didn’t realize that a feature on my body could make me unrelatable to someone.
I eventually mumbled out something to the effect of “because I am black?” and shrugged.
Of course these questions seem silly now but to a pre-teen, they definitely weren’t. I imagine other TCK’s have gotten different variations of this question. Fast forward to a 17 year old me in college as a freshman in Virginia and these questions had morphed into “Why is your English so good?”, “Do you ride on animals since you don’t have cars?” and my personal favorite which I got from my college roommate after finding out that I was not African American but African. “Do you live in those huts like they show on TV?”
My reaction this time was with an incredulous laugh before I calmly said no and talked about where I was from and why my “english” was so good?
I educated him on the history of Nigeria and how we were colonized by the British and how while there huts in Africa, there are many modern things that we have as well. I let him know that people around the world had advanced.
Over the years, I still get these questions but I don’t laugh anymore. I don’t even get offended. I take them in stride because I realize that my responses are an opportunity to educate and erase different stereotypes.