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What's the most ridiculous question you've been asked, regardless of race or ethnicity? (iStockphoto.com)

What's The Most Ridiculous Question You've Been Asked?

May 22, 2013

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Kat Chow

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AskReddit is a section on the popular website Reddit where folks post pretty philosophical, sometimes abstract questions about things like how not to procrastinate, what surprises Americans about Europe and people's best one-liners.

AskReddit is also the best place on the Internet to talk about race.*

And people do, often. Last month, for example, someone posed a question that spawned a luminous dialogue:

What's one question you've been dying to ask another race but never do because you're afraid of the impending "THAT'S RACIST" aftermath?

The floodgates opened:

  • "Is black church really that fun like in the movies?" asked Redditor stuff711.
  • "White people: why are you never covered up during the winter time? Do you guys never feel cold?" asked TechMe0ut
  • "What's with all the cocoa butter?" wondered YAISEDDIT.
  • "what are you asians taking pictures of?!?!" asked egnaro2007.
  • "If you're looking straight ahead, can you see the floor and the ceiling at the same time?" someone once asked LitLady, a user who identified as Asian.
  • Kamigami had two questions. One for blacks: "How can you tell if you have a bruise?" and one for East Asians: "Do you struggle to tell strangers apart?"

It surprised us, having heard so many questions ourselves, that there were still folks who felt reluctant to ask them. After all, some people are comfortable asking pretty bold questions.

Just this week, a police officer followed a white father to his home and asked whether the man's biracial children were actually his. We asked our multiracial followers on Twitter if they'd ever experienced something similar. Turns out, they too have been asked some outlandish questions.

(Once, a friend asked me why Chinese people always go by their full names. "I mean, you go by Kat Chow," he said, rattling off a string of his other Chinese friends' full names. "What's up with that?"

I go by "Kat" or "Katelin," too, by the way.)

So we wanted to turn the question around. What odd or ridiculous or hilarious questions have you been asked, no matter your race or ethnic background? And in case you want to share with us in a more private way, you can answer using this form.

Let us know in the comment section, or tweet your question to us at @NPRCodeSwitch, using #theyasked.

*AskReddit is not the best place on the Internet to talk about race.

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