"Where are you originally from?" I didn't realize how this question could be so ignorant and borderline racist. I heard this asked in public in a conversation I overheard, and it actually made me think.
See, I was in Antwerp a couple of months ago. I was in an Indonesian restaurant, and I was dining by myself. Behind me, there was a group of 4 diners, and one of the waiters in the Indonesian restaurant happened to be black. These diners asked the waiter, "Where are you originally from?"
At the very least, that shows their ignorance. I mean, hello, don't you know that there are black people in Europe? Don't you know that Belgium used to have colonies in Africa, and there's a high chance that descendants of these people eventually immigrated to Europe at some point? So is it really surprising to see a black person who speaks perfect Dutch and English in Belgium?
The waiter responded, and told the diners that she was from Rwanda. It probably would have been nicer if she was indeed local. And really, I think she was just being nice, because she was young, young enough and fluent in Dutch and English that it was more probable that her parents were the ones who immigrated from Rwanda, while the waiter herself was born and raised in Belgium.
This episode happens so many times in other parts of the world too. You know, Asian Americans who were born and raised in North America, getting asked "Where are you from? No, really, where are you really from?"
Some people just cannot grasp the reality that some countries can be multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. And no, not all Europeans are white. Nor are Americans for that matter.