“Where are you really from?”
Marie Zafimehy

Just tonight, as I was sitting across a Spanish guy on the dining table while eating dinner, out of nowhere, he told me in a straight and confident voice, “You have a dark skin.” I was wearing a black spaghetti top which exposed most parts of my arms and chest. And that’s the comment I got along with a spoonful of rice and meat.

I feel like there is always a need for me to explain why I’m dark or brown. Being in another country with multinational individuals seems to put me in a situation where I need to tell them that first, I am from the Philippines; and second, that my sport requires me to stay outdoor under the usual temperature of 39°C or 101°F, which is why I am visibly brown. I cringe to the thought that people act this way and make these remarks or carelessly throw these questions. When I see white people, I typically ask where they come from, but out of sheer curiosity and for the sake of conversation. I never ask these questions out of doubt or suspicion.

So going back to that dinner conversation — the safest way to respond to it (although a response was unnecessary) was, unfortunately, to just tell him (again) that I am from the Philippines and that I am an athlete. Sad story.