by Coleman Hughes
Thursday, 12
January 2023
Video
11:54

Coleman Hughes: asking ‘where are you from?’ isn’t racist

The writer responds to Prince Harry and Ngozi Fulani
by Coleman Hughes

The controversy over Lady Susan Hussey, an 84-year-old lady in waiting accused by Kilburn-born charity worker Ngozi Fulani of insensitivity for asking ‘where she was really from’, led to Hussey’s resignation from the royal household and an apology from Buckingham Palace. This week, Prince Harry weighed in suggesting it was a matter of ‘racism and unconscious bias’.

At an UnHerd Club event in London last night, American writer and critic Coleman Hughes responded to the story and gave his emphatic perspective.


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I find after ‘what’s your name?’, asking ‘where are you from?’ is one of the best questions to ask. I’m often in Ubers in New York (where I’m from) and I usually find the second or third question I will ask an Uber driver is: where are you from? If he has an accent — and it’s always a ‘he’ — I often want to know where they were born, where they came from, and when they came to America. I’ve never once got a complaint.

In fact, every time I’ve had a very interesting conversation where I learned something. I recently spoke to an Uber driver that, in response to the question, ‘where are you really from?’, gave me his take on Afghanistan and the US involvement from someone who grew up there. For the first time in my life I heard the take that you can be pro-US and pro-Taliban, and it kind of made sense!

The point is that this is one of the basic human questions that one can ask to another and despite this incident, I still feel that if 90% of people walking on the street were asked this question, they would not even think twice or get offended. The kind of people that get offended by this are a very loud minority that are given attention…

I have sympathy with people that want to reinvent themselves [such as Ngozi Fulani did by changing her name from Marlene Headley] and get in touch with their roots, however they perceive those to be. I don’t think that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. I think that comes from a universal urge to have roots that you can trace to, and it’s something a certain kind of person looks to, or anyone might look to, in times of struggle in one’s personal life. 

If you’re going to do that, though, (i.e. if you’re going to adopt an African name), you can’t be surprised when people assume you’re from Africa, and you ought not get offended. But this is the world that migration and globalism and diversity is creating: where identities are going to get more complex. And that’s okay.

But it also means that people like this woman should be much more forgiving, and not seek to cancel someone for what is clearly a well-intentioned comment. No one believes that if she had answered ‘oh, I’m from Africa,’ that this 80-year-old woman would say, ‘oh no! Africa…’. She would have been curious and would have wanted to know more about the place. How many signals do you need to know that the intentions are good before you understand that you don’t have to rush to judgement of a person over such a benign question?

As for the Royals’ apology, the temptation to do something is deep and profound. This is as true of politicians as it is of institutions. But sometimes the best thing to do is to let it blow over. There are cases where if you hold the line people will forget. They will move on to the next issue. They will betray the fact that sometimes they didn’t really care so much about this to begin with. Sometimes it’s a kind of short-lived anger about these kinds of issues because most of the people getting mad in the back of their minds know that asking ‘where are you from’ is a normal question.

I think there is an incentive where if you apologise for things that are really not worth apologising for, you create more of this. Because it’s not a psychologically normal person that creates a campaign around condemning a person who asked, ‘Where are you from?’ This is not normal behaviour. Whatever you want to call this, this is not normal. And I think such people thrive on the attention and validation that is given when an institution says, ‘here’s an apology’, which is synonymous with saying ‘your concern is valid’. We are validating your right to be offended. And at a subconscious level, these people become more like the kind of person that gets offended because they see the rewards that go along with that offence.

Regarding Prince Harry specifically, I saw the Oprah interview. He’s never made it clear how he knows the comment about what colour his baby’s skin would be was made in a racist way. Wondering what a baby is going to look like is not such a bad thing. I talked to my girlfriend about what our babies are going to look like! Presumably, he believes it was meant in a racist way (i.e. that the baby’s not going to be too dark). But to my knowledge, he’s never said that. He just said, ‘someone wondered about what the baby was going to look like’, without naming that person, which then allows the mind to speculate and go wild about ‘oh, who was it?’ 

You ought to be really specific if you’re going to make an accusation about something like that… If someone casts a vague aspersion about a kid looking good or something, you really need to make the accusation or don’t. Because if you’re going to accuse someone of really not wanting the baby to be dark, that’s a very deep accusation to make about someone and it should be made seriously, with a name or not at all. The way he’s not pinning himself down to it being a racist comment — as opposed to a kind of curiosity of a sort that anyone might have — it seems fishy to me.

To watch the full conversation with Coleman Hughes, click HERE.

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Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
24 days ago

I am an immigrant and live in an area with a high number of immigrants. I have been asked this question frequently and it never bothers me. I have, however, stopped asking other people after having snarky replies that insinuated my asking was racist. It’s a shame because I enjoy chatting to other people not born in my country of residence and asking how they came to be here and so forth.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
24 days ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Glad to hear that. I am frequently asking people who don’t appear English for one reason or another where they are from. You can then seek to learn more about their country and about them. I have never had anyone be obstructive or bristle like Fulani.

The basic problem was that Fulani was actually English born but wished to rather inconsistently appropriate the cultural trappings of a culture that was not in fact her’s except in the sense that she though her DNA entitled her to adopt them. Lady Hussey probably should on a self protective basis have stopped digging once it was clear Fulani was determined to be coy about the mismatch between her origins and her appearance and pass on to a more promising visitor to introduce. So nothing for her to apologise for but merely a lesson about dealing with the hyper-racialised.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Speaking of this new cardinal sin, called “cultural appropriation”, are all black women who straighten their hair and dye it blond, green or pink, also guilty of this horrific offence?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
24 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I am no guide to the intricacies of cultural application. Personally I see nothing wrong in Fulani dressing in a general “African” manner any more than I would if she appropriated the garb of an English Morris dancer, however ridiculous it might make her look.

The problem was that adopting the name Fulani, a people scattered over a number of African countries, rather invites questions as to her family’s place of origin. I can imagine myself asking the question out of curiosity given her African garb but I don’t represent anyone but myself so I don’t need to tread carefully around people who might claim the question is racist.

We have a Nigerian friend who dresses on formal occasions in full Nigerian clothing and she always looks magnificent.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
22 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

If you are black, you are never guilty of anything, absolutely perfect in every way and deserving of constant adulation.

Happy to be of help.

Last edited 22 days ago by Samir Iker
Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
21 days ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Unless you disagree with Critical Race Theory – then according to wokeism, you’re ‘white’.

Nancy G
Nancy G
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Perhaps an example of cultural appropriation?

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“..rather inconsistently appropriate the cultural trappings of a culture that was not in fact her’s except in the sense that she though her DNA entitled her to adopt them.”

Would that be related to the same ‘inconsistency’ of appropriation via DNA that allows tens of millions of ‘white’ Americans to call themselves Italian, Irish, Polish, Swedish, or WASP Americans, even though their families have been in the USA for several generations?

Of course these people could’nt be “hyper-racialised” because they are mainly “white”. Only black people can be “hyper-racialised” because white people are not a ‘race’ are they?

Nice to see an analytic intellect at work as opposed to someone just making a knee-jerk reaction.

P.S. Has it ever occurred to you there is no such thing as white people? If I was white I would be dead. We are the pink people.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
21 days ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

The inconsistency I referred to was the fact that her garb was not consistent with any particular African tribal tradition but was a mishmash of various different tribal appearances just as if an Italian American decided to dress in a French beret, German Lederhosen and arrive in an Italian Ice-cream van. I gather from those who know African costume that Fulani’s costume was oddly assembled as her adopted name. No criticism from me for this just an observation.

“White” people can certainly be hyper-racialised. Indeed there are probably more hyper-racialised “whites”.

I don’t normally talk of “white” people partly for the reason you give but also because there is little commonality in peoples with pale skin.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
22 days ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Could I suggest you persevere Caty? Your curious attitude oils the wheels of culture.

I’m also curious about the context of others as it provides an opportunity to find out more about other cultures.

Many years ago, once I became aware of people being sensitive about this (usually white people interestingly), I started doing this more discreetly – so instead of asking where someone is from directly I’ll say they have an interesting accent. Typically people will then enthusiastically explain the origin of their accent, and then a few well-informed comments (since we’re all well-informed here on Unherd!) about their place of origin then takes you into the threshold of a great conversation.
I’ve even ended up talking about cricket to a Muslim girl on a helpdesk in India, having to be careful about showing her support for Pakistan during an India Pakistan test series.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
24 days ago

Delighted to see Coleman Hughes on Unherd – a genuinely honest and nuanced thinker, who has always impressed me when I’ve seen him in conversation on youtube. I hope he becomes a regular writer here.
I agree with all this in the article – “Where are you from?” seems a completely natural thing to ask anyone, particularly at an event that has an international guestlist, and especially if that person has chosen to attend in an outfit that is quite so ostentatiously “ethnic”.
But in this particular encounter there is another factor at play. Lady Susan Hussey, as a member of the Royal Household, was expected to talk to guests at a reception and find out some information about them so that, if introducing them to the monarch, or another member of the Royal family, she could introduce them with the relevant information, thus easing the start of the conversation. That is her job at such an event. There would have been plenty of other people doing exactly the same, it is just Lady Hussey’s misfortune that she was the one to encounter a guest with an agenda.
“Where are you from?” is not a question that is ever likely to be asked as a way to give offence, though it is unsurprising that some people choose to take offence.
Given Ms Fulani’s previous utterances on the Royal Family it seems she was already predisposed to view any encounter in the most negative light possible, and even if her own recollection of the conversation is accurate, she seems to have gone out of her way to make Lady Hussey’s job of eliciting a few basic pieces of information, needlessly difficult.
If one goes through life with such a hair-triggered offence antenna, it is little wonder that one manages to detect it everywhere and be offended by the most trivial things. In all honesty my sympathies lie with Lady Hussey, who was forced out of a long-held position within the Royal Household to appease the sensibilities of some bad faith actors.

Last edited 20 days ago by Paddy Taylor
polidori redux
polidori redux
24 days ago

Of course it wasn’t a racist question, as Fulani well knows. She was simply trying to create an opportunity to “pile in” on a target that she had identified as such, before their meeting. It wouldn’t have mattered what questions Hussey asked, they would have been identified as racist questions.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
24 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Besides, anyone who changes their name from Marlene Headley to Ngozi Fulani, in order to identify better with their supposed roots, and then becomes offended by someone asking the question is a fraud.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
24 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Exactly. Or a grifter.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
22 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Her name wasn’t even authentic – it combined the names of two different tribes in Africa. It would be like someone English calling themselves Padraig McTavish to claim Celtic ancestry.

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
23 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Indeed, it was rude and predatory of Fulani to trick an elderly person into entering her web so as to give herself a pretend justification for attacking her. Nasty spider.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
22 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Apparently it was a set up – she actually recorded the exchange in anticipation of getting a usable response.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
24 days ago

I very recently had a delightful conversation with a young woman at a railway station (you know a place where these things called trains sometimes pass through). The conversation started when I noticed that she appeared to be from the sub-continent, and in this rather rural area it was uncommon, so I (wait for it) asked her where she was from. She told me that she lived locally, but was born in Oxford, her family, though, came from the Punjab. She then asked me if I were local and where I was born. We engaged in a pleasant conversation both on the platform and the train and parted happily after sharing numerous tales about family and pets. Social interaction at its best, started by a simple question which she didn’t appear to find in the least bit offensive.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
22 days ago

Linda, that conversation you had is not just common but almost obligatory while travelling in any part of India. And people will laugh at you if you took offense.

That’s the funny bit – we might argue here on a forum, eat different foods, have different customs but people are underneath the same and like to be pleasant to each others.

The ones who keep talking about racism and equality – are the ones bringing about discord and dividing people. Ironically, and I think intentionally.

Last edited 22 days ago by Samir Iker
Peter D
Peter D
21 days ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Being white is living on egg shells. Everything we say and do is wrong.

Daniel P
Daniel P
24 days ago

I’ve learned not to apologize when I do not think what I did was wrong.
Have had a few of these situations pop up over the last 10 yrs or so. Now I push back and tell people it is their problem, not mine.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
23 days ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Good, but I do think you should be ruder to the woke scum.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
23 days ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Good, but I do think your should be ruder to the woke skum.

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
24 days ago

One of the most irritating things about Fulani’s actions is that although a Londoner she has gone out of her way to create a personal style that creates uncertainty and a sense of International Woman of Mystery about herself. She has chosen a made-up name including the ethnonym of a very widespread group with its own complicated history of African-on-African slavery, conquest and social caste, and which is itself not a common surname even AMONG that ethnic group. She also chose to wear to a formal Buckingham Palace event clothing that was designed to intrigue, being basically a mish-mash of vaguely West-African-ish elements of no clear provenance.
Her name and her clothes were designed to stand out and invite speculation. If she’d worn the usual (frankly awful, but I’m Australian) getup that UK women wear to BP, and had answered Lady Hussey’s small-talk with “I’m Marlene Headley. I’m from London but my background is Barbadian. Like my outfit? I’m exploring my roots”, she would have received a polite “how interesting” response from Lady Hussey and that would have been that.
You sow the wind, and you make innocent others reap the whirlwind….

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
24 days ago
Reply to  Maurice Austin

Sorry I wasn’t thinking my counterfactual through very clearly, given the clothes I had decided she should be wearing. I should have had her saying “Like my outfit? I got it at M&S; I think blue flatters me”.

John Riordan
John Riordan
23 days ago
Reply to  Maurice Austin

To be honest, either counterfactual would have made a great deal more sense than how she actually behaved.

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
24 days ago

Thank you, Coleman Hughes, for reminding us what civilisation entails

Dominic A
Dominic A
24 days ago

To my mind there is no better anti-racist force than an intelligent black person making their case – uplifting us all. Thank you Messrs Hughes, Loury, McWhorter; no thanks Mr Kendi and Ms Fulani.

Last edited 24 days ago by Dominic A
Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
24 days ago

“Where are you from?” is a question very often asked in Oxford, where I live, primarily because it’s the kind of place that people come to – whether temporarily or to settle longer term – from all over. The majority of people I’ve met here come from somewhere else, as do I. That may be somewhere else in the UK, like me, or beyond. Whether their skin is white or not. In fact, I’ve probably asked that question of white people the most – and usually they’re not from Oxford originally. To try to re-cast such a natural and well-meaning enquiry as offensive is simply absurd.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
24 days ago

You wait forever for one article on apologies from UnHerd and then two come along at once

Su Mac
Su Mac
24 days ago

Always enjoy Coleman Hughes – I think I remember a few past articles of his on here and I really rate his calm thinking, concise expression and dry humour – he does not make up stuff on the spot, he has thought it through folks! One of the real thinkers in the USA Blexit movement of 2020 era…so long ago…

Steve Cobb
Steve Cobb
24 days ago

We could shut down migration, and all stay in our home towns, and then no one need ever fear the question again. But some of us do truly appreciate diversity, not just as a tool for pursuing advantage.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
24 days ago

The boy who cried “Wolf” syndrome, writ large. ( When everything is racism, nothing is racism. And “unconscious” racism is an oxymoron. )
Little Harry should be ignored.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
23 days ago

Like Coleman Hughes, I’m from the United States, a nation that’s only 246 years old. Unless you’re a Native American, of which there are 574 tribes, our families are all from someplace else, originally. We Americans have a relentless curiosity when it comes to discerning and publicly elaborating on our global genealogy, whether we’re asked or not…which has generated a lucrative industry for the likes of AncestryDNA; 23andMe; and Family TreeDNA. One can’t get more specific then boasting, “My family came over on the Mayflower (a British ship that sailed from Plymouth and docked 66 days later in what’s now Cape Cod on November 11th, 1620).”
My family’s origins, on both sides, are Eastern European. Because the maps have changed since my relatives emigrated, I can only state that my roots are located somewhere around modern day Russia, Poland and Lithuania.
I’ve worked with Native Americans all over the United States. They may say, “I’m Native American”, but it’s only a prequel to their explaining, ” I’m from the Onondaga Nation, located in Upstate New York “, or ” I’m a Colorado Hopi Indian”, or ” I’m an Apache from Arizona “.
Ngozi Fulani wouldn’t get away with expressing her indignation when asked, “Where are you from?”, when dressed in African garb, on my side of pond.

John Riordan
John Riordan
23 days ago

“He just said, ‘someone wondered about what the baby was going to look like’, without naming that person, which then allows the mind to speculate and go wild about ‘oh, who was it?’ ”

In other words, a venal and despicable piece of moral cowardice.

laura m
laura m
24 days ago

One of the most important observation Coleman made was acknowledging different perspective on policing in the US btw those of us with “skin in game” and BLM activists. The media has always ignored the law abiding folks whose neighborhoods are burdened by gang activity. The public, Britain and the US, are ignorant of the benefits of pro-active policing and repeat empty activist talking points. Contrary to popular understanding, policing is the one US institution to undergo major reforms long before the delusional lies presented by BLM founders during the Trayvon Martin mass hysteria event.

Last edited 24 days ago by lmenard7
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
24 days ago

Mr Hughes skewers the gist of the matter again – bravo. Excellent piece, calmly and reasonably argued. Exactly what I like to read – thank you, I look forward to your next contribution.

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
23 days ago

As a British person of mixed race, I’ve had my share of “where do you come from?” conversations. Some people ask from genuine curiosity, as part of the give-and-take of normal interactions. Others insist that I answer in a way that colludes with their assumptions, and they feel entitled to grill me until I do. The poet Jackie Kay, who is of mixed race, has described one such conversation, which ended with the other person calling her a “foreign looking b****r.”
So when I saw Ngozi Fulani talking about her conversation with Lady Susan Hussey, my sympathies were initially with Ms. Fulani – until she described Lady Susan’s behaviour as “violence.” Apart from trivialising the suffering of the women her charity works with, equating words with literal violence is a manipulative wokeist ploy. It’s more than simply saying that “racism exists on a continuum.” The woke use it to shut down civil discourse, and to justify real, retaliatory violence.
Being asked “What part of Africa are you from?” is understandable, given Ms. Fulani’s Nigerian name and the fact that she was wearing full African rig. If I took an Indian name and wore a sari, I would understand if people asked me about my Asian background. It wouldn’t excuse them doing it in a rude way. But I feel it would be different from asking me, “where do you really come from?” simply because I’m not white.
I don’t think Lady Susan Hussey should have had to resign. I think her account of what happened should have been heard, and her age and long service taken into account. An apology, if appropriate, would have been more proportionate. I wonder if Palace politics had some part in her resignation? Did someone take the opportunity to get rid of her?

Last edited 23 days ago by Dulle Griet
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
23 days ago
Reply to  Dulle Griet

No. You NEVER, EVER, EVER apologise to the woke.

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
22 days ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Thank you for reading my comment. It boils my blood too, when I see people who’ve done nothing wrong being bullied to apologise to wokeists. We saw what happened when Martina Navratilova apologised to Rachel Mackinnon. They see apologies as weakness to be exploited. The woke aren’t playing by the rules of civil discourse – they’re cynically abusing them in order to gain power. And there are times when the best response is “Russian warship, go f*** yourself.”
I said “if appropriate,” because I think you can set boundaries around apologies, self-reflection and accountability. For me that would look like saying, to quote Les Carter, “I’m more than willing to discuss this if we’re going to go to a reasonable place. But if all you want to do is just take me down into a place of devaluation. I’m not doing that.”

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
23 days ago

The race grifter’s name is Marlene Headley, not some confected Afri-mashup of words used by two warring tribes.

Iris C
Iris C
23 days ago

Wasn’t the woman – who changed her name to an African one – also wore African dress at the reception? The 84-year old was not the one at fault here and it was quite wrong of officialdom to apologise and she to resign.

Kevin R
Kevin R
23 days ago

I broadly agree with Mr Hughes and most of the commentators here that the whole thing is something of a storm in a teacup and that Ms Fulani seems to be looking for trouble
However, Ms Fulani’s original grievance was centred on the fact that she was apparently repeatedly asked where she was from: ” no I mean where are you really from?”. The implication being that Ms Gusset couldn’t or wouldn’t accept that she was a Londoner due to her name, skin colour etc. This detail seems to have been elided from the discussion here.

Last edited 23 days ago by Kevin R
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
23 days ago

He’s absolutely right. The correct response to a woke racist chancer like Fulani is to tell her to stick it up her fat ar5e.

Last edited 23 days ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
23 days ago

“I find after ‘what’s your name?’, asking ‘where are you from?’ is one of the best questions to ask. I’m often in Ubers in New York (where I’m from) and I usually find the second or third question I will ask an Uber driver is: where are you from? If he has an accent — and it’s always a ‘he’ — I often want to know where they were born, where they came from, and when they came to America. I’ve never once got a complaint.”

“Where are you from?” has totally different connotations in the US than in the UK.

First, in the U.S. there is still a feeling of being a ‘young’ nation which was built on ‘immigration’ (and genocide [in fact if you think about it genocide is based on “where are you from”] and killing people who are not from the ‘same’ place), even though that was largely white immigration drawn from the poorest people; how quickly they asumed ‘superiority’ over native americans and slaves.

But there are millions and millions of white U.S. citizens who still like to think they are from somewhere else, so 4th generations will say “I am” Italian, Greek, Irish, Polish “American”, when they no longer have the slightest connections with their ‘roots’.

In fact not only do ‘Americans’ revel in this they encourage each other. Why? Because their roots are shallow and they want to feel connected to something more ancient and ‘eternal’. They look to their ‘ancestors’

Millions of black descendents from slavery can’t answer the question: “Where do you come from?” Could Coleman Hughes answer the question: “Where do you come from?”

In the UK the question: “Where do you come from.” is, of course a question directed at immigrants. But, being a much, much, older country than the US it is as likely to be about which ‘class’ do you come from.

So if you are highly paid and speak well, wear expensive clothes, have a senior role in say a supermarket chain, there will be people from the upper classes who look down on you with “effortless superiority” because they recognise your wealth and power, but don’t know your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents.

That was why there was outrage at the behaviour of Lady Susan Hussey. Ngozi Fulani was born here, she is as English as I am but with a different DNA. In Britain most intelligent people believe we are ‘from’ where we are born.

One of the tragedies of U.S. society is the overwhelming desire, largely fuelled by white immigrants, to feel they come from ‘somewhere else’ and hence the hyphenated American.

Where are you from? is a crass, racist, insensitive, ignorant, question to put to someone who is as ‘English’ as Lady Hussey. Of course she could not ‘trace’ her history back to several generations of ‘ancestors’ in Britain, but she is British.

What upsets me reading Coleman’s words is his utter lack of understanding about the issue. If you ask a taxi-driver, an entry level occupation for immigrants all over the globe (along with kitchen porter, street sweeper, bottom wiper as care assistant) they are likely to be recently arrived and it is humane to show interest and ask: “Where are you from.” That is normal conversation.

But the real question is not: “Where are you from, but why are you here?” Behind that answer is almost always a tragedy. Guess what, almost every emigrant in history beomes one through personal or social tragedy. Especially when that ’emigration’ was forced as in slavery.

Graham Ward
Graham Ward
24 days ago

The whole video has been blocked on copyright grounds.
I did enjoy watching the event last night, thanks to all concerned.

Last edited 24 days ago by Graham Ward
William Shaw
William Shaw
22 days ago

I believe most people would agree with the views expressed in this article.
I’ve been asked where I’m from a thousand times.

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
22 days ago

Heritage is a good thing, and a good topic for small talk / getting to know people

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
24 days ago

The full video is blocked on YouTUbe because apparently it contains some ITV rights footage. Did anyone else get that message when they tried to watch the full interview?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
24 days ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

I did. I watched the video at the top of the article, but it’s pretty much what’s in the article itself,

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
23 days ago

One of the very best of an unherd response, congratulations.

David Pogge
David Pogge
20 days ago

Thank you, Mr. Hughes. It seems that a small but vocal minority have forsaken the principle of charity and instead have embraced the notion that every remark and every action should be dissected to see if there is any possible manner in which it might be interpreted as somehow evil or malicious. It is then taken for granted by these individuals that this should be the assumed motive behind the action or remark, and that the person making the remark or engaged in the action is therefore presumed to be guilty of wrongdoing and obligated to apologize and do penance. This is unreasonable, it makes civil society impossible, and it is not how most people behave. You are correct too in your assertion that once we ‘apologize’ for such a ‘offense’ we validate this interpretation and give moral stature to those who are complaining. We need to stop apologizing, start saying ‘you know what I meant’, take others to task for trying to find malice where none is present, and begin challenging their motives for doing so.

A Cee
A Cee
7 days ago

Even multiple times after the question was already answered?

j watson
j watson
24 days ago

Put like this all seems eminently reasonable doesn’t it. And of course a genuine enquiry about where someone is from shows an interest in that person that can be v much welcomed.
But the Fulani incident the Author refers too wasn’t the same and let’s not distort the interaction. The Palace apologised because they knew there was alot more to it. Once Fulani had answered, ‘British, grew up in Kilburn’ etc and clearly wasn’t receptive to further exploration of the matter you show some common sense and leave it at that. You don’t go on insisting that can’t be right. Imagine pushing that insistence in the back of the taxi with the Taxi driver, given that’s the analogy Author uses. You wouldn’t would you unless you wanted to risk being turfed out of the taxi!
Fact Fulani perhaps a bit silly and unduly reticent not relevant to lack of good manners and common sense. And the problem with then not showing some common sense is it can then look a more malign bit of pressure. Daresay Hussey’s heart was in right place but proper cack-handed.
As regards colour of H&M baby – the issue is stripped of it’s context and the intonation with which it was expressed. Without that it’s open to multiple interpretations. I think the parents can be criticised for not outlining that further, but we should also not assume it was said with quite the innocence we might hope either. Wider context was alot of stuff racially tinged about M in the media at that time, which instinctively should make a Palace courtier, or Royal, more sensitive. One suspects the lot of them aren’t blessed with greatest degree of emotional intelligence.

Last edited 24 days ago by j watson
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

So she can be interested in her African roots but anyone she talks to can’t be? A bit strange.
And why would anyone assume Harry’s baby would be dark skinned when Meghan is 3/4 white?

j watson
j watson
24 days ago

You’re kind of missing the point DU. Now don’t be confirming the lack of emotional intelligence spreads beyond the Royal Family.

Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Regarding H&M’s baby – why should we not assume the innocence of the person who made the alleged remark, in the absence of specific evidence to the contrary? That’s the thrust of Coleman’s argument, surely – that too many people rush to assume guilt in this kind of situation. H&M made a serious accusation, or a clear insinuation of racism, without providing any context. They just let it hang, as if to cause maximum speculation and damage. That’s what was so wrong about it. An accusation of racism is serious – all the more reason to do so fairly, responsibly and be able to properly back it up.
As for the racism in the media alleged by H&M, that has been pretty comprehensively debunked – unless you can point to any more specific examples than H&M themselves have produced, i.e. very few and very thin. The only wider context here is their paranoia.

j watson
j watson
24 days ago

Where was it debunked CP?
Plenty of examples right from the ‘get-go’. Of course implicit and often indirect like the Straight of Compton and exotic DNA stuff in the Mail they started with.
Now if you think you are a great judge of what does or does not have a racial undertone go and ask a few people from an ethnic background. You’ll find some of course that concur with your contentment that it really doesn’t exist, but vast majority can see exactly what was going on.
I do though think H&M shouldn’t have just left the story half-hanging though and agree in part with that. I haven’t got to that point in the Book yet to see if better explained. Blinkin good read so far though, although in our local Bookshop it’s already sold out. You need to rush to get a copy I think.

Zak Orn
Zak Orn
24 days ago
Reply to  j watson

If you run a charity restricted to people of a specific heritage, wear another countries’ traditional dress, force a fake accent and appropriate a tribe name you’re obviously very proud of your heritage and people are going to ask where those traditions originate from. Let’s be real, Fulani was always going to find problems, because she went there looking for them. Hussey was an ideal target because she’s old enough to be naive about the intentions of clout chasers.
My parents are from Nicaragua, the “where are you from” question can indeed be asked with racist intent, but in 99% of cases it’s not, especially when it’s done by an old lady. If I was wearing my parents’ tribal dress and speaking miskitu I would expect people to probe a bit further when I say I’m from London, obviously in that context, as with Hussey, they’re asking about the heritage you’re outwardly expressing not where you were born.
Sadly bad faith actors are doing much more harm to social cohesion than impotent racists could ever dream of.

Last edited 24 days ago by Zak Orn
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
22 days ago
Reply to  j watson

I’m suprised that she wasnt asked how she couldent sweep the floor as she didn’t have her broom with her….. to which her response would have been ” Its parked outside and I’ll use it to fly home”…

David McKee
David McKee
24 days ago

I was in happy ignorance that the “Where are you from? No, come on, where are you really from?” question was offensive, until it cropped up in a SOAS seminar I attended about three years ago. All the ethnic minority people there agreed that they found it offensive, because they thought it implied that Britain was not really their home. I asked how many of them had been asked that question. All of them had.
Since the Hussey-Falani incident, I have asked (white) friends and family if they knew beforehand that this question was offensive. From the lack of straight answers I got, I surmise all of them had absolutely no idea, and they were embarrassed about it.
A parallel case might be useful. Gentlemen, if you encountered a well-endowed young woman, would you think of observing, “Gosh, you have lovely big boobs”? I would hope not, even if your motives were entirely innocent. And we would not say it, because it would almost certainly be viewed as offensive.
In the end, it’s not a matter of political correctness, it’s a matter of politeness.

monicasilva999
monicasilva999
24 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

I don’t think your comparison makes as much sense as you think it does… Passing judgement on someone’s body bears no relation to a question about your place of origin. Unless, of course, you think that being foreign (or perceived as such) is some kind of second-class existence – in which case you have a problem, not me (who, as foreigner, get the question all the time, by the way).

David McKee
David McKee
24 days ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

It does bear relation, in the sense of being a perceived insult.
Racism does exist in British society, and we delude ourselves if we think it doesn’t. It’s nothing like as bad as the BLM devotees would have us believe, but it does exist. So yes, if you are an ethnic minority, you do have a “second-class existence.”
If you really feel compelled to ask about someone’s origins, it’s not that difficult to re-word the question to “Which part of the world did your family come from?”

Janny Lee
Janny Lee
23 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Oh goodness. And I really didn’t think you could get any sillier

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
22 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

What is racism? please define?

bill blax
bill blax
22 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

“Which part of the world did your family come from?” is arguably worse than simply asking, “Where are you from?”
Putting that aside, if the subject of my ethnic or religious identity comes up, it does not make me feel like a “second-class” citizen. Those who feel that way, in response to a well-intended question from someone who is simply showing some interest, are the ones who have a problem.
The key here is the statement, “So yes, if you are an ethnic minority, you do have a ‘second-class existence.’ ” The statement is simply untrue if it is based entirely on the fact that someone might inquire as to one’s origins.

Last edited 22 days ago by bill blax
Janny Lee
Janny Lee
23 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Oh dear. Not many brain cells rubbing together here. What a thoroughly stupid comparison.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
22 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

Dunno about the breasts analogy, but you are otherwise correct. Asking where you come from because of your colour is inherently racist because it is a question based solely on your colour. That said, it is often best dealt with by replying with a joke (eg, “Fulham, but my family emigrated there from Hammersmith.”).