Political correctness and the rough and tumble of identity.

The recent racism accusation by Ngozi Fulani in her home, England; when being asked where her people were from is troubling. The words or situation by itself does not look racist but I can’t judge the situation as there is a whole lot of tone, and non-verbals that go into what the truth is.  But I can speak of a situation I experienced that sounds almost exactly the same and I hope it will make people think and hopefully not be worried.
On a Zoom call at work there was a large group of participants and there was one new to work very black young guy with an American accent. He was interesting because he was different. I was interested in, what was his story, his experiences, just generally what he thought and moving here, why, what he hoped for? As he was a little bit nervy, new,  as I was interested in him as a person. And a gap came up in the session I tried to engage him in talk. I can’t recall the early first few words, but I then asked very politely ‘I was wondering where you came from?’  He reacted a little funny and said ‘I’m a New Zealander’ and I said being very polite and no aggression I ‘no, I mean where’re from’. He reacted stiffly and largely non-verbally, and just very quickly shut down in terms of an answer and sort of said something like ‘I’m here’. I instantly recognised he was reading something into the situation that was nothing I had deliberately introduced. But the Zoom call moved onto a break into group session and then he didn’t come back into my group again, which was strange. And I didn’t see him at the end of the session so I assume he asked not to come back to the group I was in. So, I can’t fix that.
I’m an old white bald guy so I can understand why young people wouldn’t want to talk to me that much. But a work environment is not a hermetically sealed where your private life is left at home. You bring your personality, flaws, warts, and strengths. It is okay for people to try to understand and engage with each other. 
This situation made me think of identity and another conversation where this young woman at work who simply described herself as Indian, made me really reflect on identity. She said New Zealanders were the only group of people she knew who described themselves in terms of fractions. And that is exactly what I used to do. I would say I was half Irish, a quarter Scottish and a quarter Yugoslav. This was all based off my grandparents and it’s completely ridiculous. Go back one generation and there was english! AAARGGhh who wants that. And of course go back only 70,000 years approx. and we are all African.  I saw other people do this fraction thing to. So I assume it could be an immigrant culture where the ancestry gets partially lost. So identity links to some sort of knowledge of the past. Not much knowledge in my case and I suspect in a lot of other people.
And how flexible identity can be. I recall getting trees pruned at the back of a property and one of the guys who came was a very black guy. Lovely, polite, dignified. I asked him where he was from and he said South Sudan.   I asked him about independence and the vote. It just blew me away that he thought they shouldn’t be independent. And I asked why, he said there will be fighting and war, the people are divided. It seemed the devil you know. So South Sudan did not mean much to him or his identity. And that he was here is another indicator of his understanding of identity. (There was so much I wanted to ask but work stands in the way).
And how fragile identity can be on both sides. In regard to my work colleague, I was initially offended that he thought I was being racist. For a while I felt the racism or ageism was in him. His assumption was; a bald old white guy must be being racist if he shows an interest in my background. Even if his experience was that this was the case then projecting it onto me seems a racist or ageist assumption. He made no attempt to understand my intention. But his experience whether lived, or something he got out of a text book, is what you base life on, and acting on experience is not a bad thing. So why judge him harshly?   So I don’t.
And how we build identity. Contrast and difference is one of the ways we give ourselves identity, i.e., we do this, or that.  We protect identity by assuming it is good, valuable and worth having. Well, not much point in having an identity and thinking it was bad. Why wouldn’t you change it then?
And identity can therefore create conflict because it’s based on difference and belief in the goodness of the identity. We saw this in the Kaipara District Council and a Karakia before the meeting. I’m no longer a particularly religious person but my institution the church was relatively easy to leave as I don’t have to associate with it. Not quite so easy being Maori and leaving the family community and the traditions you have left.  
Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon wasn’t that inspiring saying ‘create the right space to encourage Maori to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, to provide a space to express their language and culture’ (TV1News). It sort of puts one side only as if they are better than everyone. He needed to also say secular society values of tolerance and community are represented by extending to Maori the right to express their traditions, and these traditions have a special place in our society through the Treaty. And we all live in New Zealand as a Pacific nation, we are a people of the pacific. Pacific culture will have a special status because of these facts. 
There are things that I don’t like. In some marae women can’t speak. Or women sit in the back seats. But really it’s none of my business. I hope the younger Maori generation will be secure enough in their identity that they will push for change rather than just learning the tradition. But that’s easy for me to say. So I accept these things and I tolerate it because of the environments in which it happens. 
So experience has taught me that before I ask the question, ‘where are you from’;  i’ll intro the question even more carefully. But I’ll keep asking it because people are interesting and its fascinating hearing peoples stories. And please, nobody should ever be put off from genuinely, in little bit and pieces, with give and take, asking questions about another persons background and, we shouldn’t assume the worst if they do. 


  1. I like people and am always curious about where people come from, how people live life, their perspectives etc. I am not a pakeha, hence I occassionally get such questions myself.

    I would not jump to crucify a 83 year old white woman, just because a person with darker skin saw racism in being asked ” where are you from”.

    Older people are often quite blunt and nosy, and in her shoes i would have followed along to see where the conversation went, instead of instantly assuming racism.

  2. Stephen
    Happens to me all the time when people hear the German accent. The way I look at it, that african looking woman could have easily shut the whole thing down after the first question: “I’m born here in London so I’m british but my family originally came from…(Africa).” When you read the transcript, the 85 year old never said anything bad or racist about the african lady, who by the looks of it then goaded the poor 85year old into the hellgates of Wokeville, a bit like Hansel and Gretel. And then of course she outraged and so the the old nanny was encouraged to leave her job. Basically she got fired. I am willing to bet that on another day and in another forum that woman, wearing the very african outfit and hairdo, will hold up a sign that says Proudly African. Just saying. You got away lightly in your scenario and saved yourself from being fired. Just by asking Where you from? Being inquisitive is now the new being racist. So Stephen, where you from?

    • Never miss an opportunity to play the race card it’s become popular.
      The question was in my view innocent particularly from an 85 year old woman,maybe a little naive at worst.

    • In all of this no-one seems to have thought of why.

      I’ve never been asked where I’m from, other than which particular suburb, in my whole life. I’m white-skinned with a European name.

      Yet I’ve heard from equally kiwi people of a different race that despite a kiwi accent, they are constantly asked where they are from. It isn’t a single or a few examples but a regular occurrence.

      As I understand it, this experience is not about a misunderstanding but an attitude, regularly experienced in more than just this kind of example. And I can imagine it would rankle or hurt.

  3. Interesting @Stephen. I’m left wondering whether his taking offence would have happened if we were living in a previous era – even 30-40 years ago.
    Like you, I’m now not at al religious although I abide by various religious conventions when attending places of worship.
    And do I have a dual identity? No, even though I have an anglicised name and a Sikh name given me by a group of older Sikhs after standing in at a wedding ceremony after the bride’s father had recently ‘expired’

    Times have changed

    • By the way (BTW)
      “Times have changed”
      The current wave of intense globalisation bring together diverse cultures and the inevitable rise in exceptionalism as a result – and all the various insecurities that go with it. Big egos without an adequate level of humility to temper them.

  4. Great stuff Stephen – I thought exactly, as you appear to, regarding the royal lady-in-waiting’s “gaffe”. It’s so easy, and lazy, to exercise our own anti upper class prejudice and damn her for an assumed racism, when her inquiry could well have been a genuine interest in knowing more about the striking woman she saw before her. Indeed, from my reading of the incident, its seems, since she pursued her inquiry past the point where she must have know her question was being misinterpreted, she was motivated by genuine interest. Many’s the time that another person’s appearance or accent or dress has prompted me to ask “where are you from” and I’m damned if I’ll be called racist for it.

    • Malcom +. It’s been suggested the elderly lady continued questioning Ngozi Fulani possibly thinking she mightn’t understand English as there was nothing to suggest that she was really a Londoner called Marlene, who was carrying a recording device, and whose connection with Meghan Markle, who wants to destroy the monarchy, has since been established.

  5. Marlene Headley changed her name to Ngoni Fulani, and branched out into wearing colourful ethnic African clothing. She’s previously, on Twitter, accused King Charles and his consort Queen Camilla of domestically abusing Meghan Markle, and stuff like that. . This was a set-up, to help cloud Prince William and Catherine’s current USA visit, and by golly, it has worked. Some would see this 83 year old lady being a victim of age-ism more than Fulani was a victim of racism. Things aren’t always quite what they seem.

    A Wellington Samoan colleague asked me where I was from, and I replied, “ Christchurch. “ She then asked, “ Do you like it here?” so I said,” Yes”. I also asked a Scottish neighbour if she was Welsh, and I try not to stereotype the lovely people of Wales based on moaning Kelvin Vanilla Davis.

    If it’s not racist nowadays, then it’s sexist, or homophobic , or something else possibly ridiculous.

    • Snow white unfortunately you HAVE just stereotyped a whole race. Not all Welsh people are lovely, no whole race is lovely. Welsh people like others are not all the same. I am sorry but this is such a belittling comment and serves to put people in their place. Wales is as diverse good, bad or indifferent as any country on earth.

      • Oh dear, not my intention to belittle the Welsh. I’ve not spent that much time in their lovely ( gulp) country. I have a Welsh son-in-law who is ever so much nicer than Kelvin Davis. Is it okay to say that? I think I can safely say that the Welsh are great rugby players, and like the Irish and Sth Koreans are recognised for their enjoyment of beautiful choral singing, if that’s okay – like I wouldn’t say that Australians are recognised for their choral singing, and I hope I’m not belittling anybody else here, but the Aussies can take it on the chin ( oh oh ) , and I never really liked Richard Burton anyway if that helps, and never shared my husband’s besottedness with Shirley Bassey, so you might be right about the Welsh not being generally lovely, and I guess that could explain Kelvin Davis. Got it.

        • Let’s stop looking for insults or blows to our amour propre. Most don’t even know what that is, and as well don’t know why they should have to take umbrage at people being interested in their seemingly exotic backgrounds. Most of us in NZ personally know little about the rest of the world even with some knowledge, still only part of it. Let’s stop being picky so often. Give life a break, try friendliness and allow for difference in attitudes and cut out jumping to stupid intolerance and judgments.

        • Unfortunately Snow White your attempt at being funny just made things worse. It now sounds as if you are just trying to be clever. To be honest I don’t really care what you think. For generations the Welsh have been belittled by the English so one more Kiwi ( if that’s your heritage) isn’t going to make any difference. Not sure why the Aussies got involved in your diatribe ( only you know that ). For some reason poor Kelvin Davies has been dubbed unloved, hopefully his mother thinks he’s lovely ,but hey who am I to judge.

          • Queeny I said that I try not to stereotype ‘ the lovely people of Wales ‘, and if you think that referring to the Welsh as ‘lovely’ is belittling to them, you’re entitled to think that way, that’s ok. Adjectives out, pronouns in, right ?

            • Snow white you obviously think you are entitled to the last word, you are also entitled to your own opinion, however if you can’t read and understand what you have written more fool me to try and explain why the words are belittling. People appear to try to frame a person, a country and put it in a little box just for their own purposes. Sadly all your comments in this conversation reflect just that.

              • Queeny Apologies to you, the Welsh, and everybody I offended erroneously suggesting that they are lovely people, and I insist upon you having the last word. Cheers.

                • Snow white i leave you with the last word as they say “ignorance is bliss” you blissfully comment on with a complete ignorance .You obviously think this is a game, so be it play on

          • Being picky and harassing people because they don’t sound exactly as you have decided is correct is another form of putdown like true racism. As my old gran said ‘If we were all the same there would be no sale for mixed biscuits’. So with that piece of mildewed wisdom FGS let people have a say without The Great Censor and Determinator. There must be critique but not much. Queeny you are very wise in this comment, your attempt at being funny just made things worse. It now sounds as if you are just trying to be clever. To be honest I don’t really care what you think. Let people keep on trying to be clever – practice makes (nearly) perfect as is said.

            And Flanders and Swann on the non-English from a more robust age looking at national matters ironically rather than despairingly – ‘Songs of Patriotic Prejudice’
            which may have grown from ideas about WW1 as seen here:
            WW1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW1aVuGHUwk

  6. Interesting, I’ve had several new people join my team at work recently.

    I’ve been getting to know them, one a guy from down south, Somewhere close to Gore, another a woman from the UK, Dorset as it turned out. I know this because they told me when I asked where they were from, then about their family etc.

    The other guy is brown, maybe from India. An assumption going from the accent and the facial features. But it’s of course highly racist to ask the same questions. So to compound the situation he’s probably assuming that I’m an older middle aged chubby white guy who is slightly racist who is only interested in white peoples.

    The trouble is I feel uncomfortable trying to get to know him. Do I ask him about cricket? Or mention my favourite restaurants, which includes a family owned Indian restaurant?

    Ask someone from Manchester or Christchurch about their favourite soccer or rugby teams is no issue. Ask someone from France or Italy about food or wine, not a problem.

    But ask someone from say India about their food or cricket, it can be difficult because I might be accused of making assumptions based on race.

    Anyway eventually I organised a team getting to know you event, where we all talked about where our home town was, other family lived, food and sports etc.

    Turns out my assumption was right. The guy is from India, huge cricket fan, and has an in-depth knowledge of the best dishes at every Indian restaurant in town.

    But it shouldn’t be so hard to get to know someone. I mean it’s blindingly obvious that I a chubby middle aged white guy, my colleague brown and like me, chubby cos he likes his food and his participation in sports is limited to watching on the telly while eating and drinking beer. So why is it so difficult to ask questions to get to know people from obviously different backgrounds?

    • “I might be accused of making assumptions based on race.”

      And why not anyway, you’re already making a bunch of other assumptions. It wasn’t that long ago that understanding the general ins and outs of other cultures was consider polite, even diplomatic – heck I assume that’s where diplomatic ceremonies come from.

      If you have to break the ice then proving or disproving assumptions isn’t a bad place to start imo.

    • But Boris, those are two different scenarios.

      As an immigrant I witnessed situations in which some Indian immigrants blatantly misinterpreted the well-meaning intent of New Zeelanders who asked that question. But from the body language and follow-up questions and clarifications by New Zeelanders, it was obvious who misinterpreted what.

      That wasn’t the case with the Royal aide, and her follow-up questions made it clear what she was implying. And I have a hunch that her facial expression told volumes too.

      • Meh. She was clearly asking where on the planet she was from, with a made up African name (not her real name), African attire from three different ethnical origins from an historical time period and an equally confusing African styled wig. Having stated publicly and online how proud she is of her ethnicity, the grifter Ngozi was playing a game of cat and mouse with a friendly 83 year old hostess, by blatantly avoiding to answer an otherwise benign question. Reading anything else into that is inaccurate. I’m just surprised the hostess was so patient with such a rude guest.

        • Sinic. Marlene Headley’s made-up African name apparently uses common Nigerian surnames and Christian names. That would make sense as Nigerian tribal chiefs had their subjects herded up and caged on beaches to sell them into slavery, mostly at that time I think carried out by the Portuguese, and some survivors would have arrived at the West Indies of her parents.

          However she told Lady Susan Hussey that there were no records kept of where the UK Windrush immigrants originally came from, and her costume, apparently contained elements of Nigerian, Somalian, and a third African country, maybe Senegal, so that it wasn’t particularly recognisable. The national costumes of all these countries are elegant, with stunning fabrics, some of which are available here in New Zealand. I have a black,white, green, and gold piece, from Spotlight.

          It was, as you later say, race baiting, and as a born and bred Londoner, Marlene knew what she was doing, but targeting an 83 year old lady
          of unblemished repute was repulsive in anybody’s book and I query whether she merits the payout which she’s allegedly angling for.

          • “but targeting an 83 year old lady”. Exactly. Marlene has behaved indecently.

            She is keen to promote her ethnicity on line, but wouldn’t give an elderly woman (who has recently suffered a major bereavement) a straight answer.

            What a cow she is

            • Anker. For somebody who works with victims of violence, i.e, only West Indian and African victims of violence, that was a surprising sort of statement. The elderly lady shouldn’t have moved her hair to read the name tag with Marlene’s adopted name, but apart from that, Susan Hussey was a victim of Marlene Headley’s word games, and probably a victim of Headley’s colourful non- recognisable attire.

              Marlene draws quite a hefty salary from her charity, and the upshot seems to be that that charity is now being investigated. It gets funding from BLM, now also under investigation for alleged financial irregularities, and the big bucks allegedly going to admin heading it.

              Screen shots of her statement that Meghan Markle experienced domestic violence from her UK in-laws are available online, I’ve seen them, and this may be part of the Montecito duo’s attempt to portray the royal family as purveyors of institutionalised racism, whatever that means. Susan Hussey was a companion of Queen Elizabeth 11, and apparently accompanied her all over the world without incident.

              The late Queen’s love of the Commonwealth and her bridge- building, is well documented, and beyond criticism, and it’s deplorable that a good and faithful servant, and the institution itself, has been muddied by somebody who some think may be yet another professional victim. We can’t let it happen here.

  7. ‘Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon wasn’t that inspiring saying ‘create the right space to encourage Maori to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, to provide a space to express their language and culture’ (TV1News). It sort of puts one side only as if they are better than everyone. He needed to also say secular society values of tolerance and community are represented by extending to Maori the right to express their traditions, and these traditions have a special place in our society through the Treaty. And we all live in New Zealand as a Pacific nation, we are a people of the pacific. Pacific culture will have a special status because of these facts.’
    I’m not sure what point is Minto is trying to make here. Secular society values are upheld by upholding secular society values. Māoritanga and the Treaty of Waitangi are no justification for injecting religion into civic affairs.
    Kaipara mayor Craig Jepson is right to prohibit prayer at his council meeting … if that is what the council has collectively decided. It is not clear from media reports, however, whether the council had made that decision, or whether this was a dictat by Jepson.
    There is also doubt whether Jepson was intent on suppressing religious expression, or whether he more broadly sought to suppress any expression of tikanga Māori, which if so would be cause for Meng Foon to intervene.
    Tacked on to the end of an NZME report is a Kaipara council karakia that is innocuously nonreligious and secular, and ought not to have offended anyone who (rightly in my opinion) wanted to keep religion out of civic proceedings. However NZME does not make clear whether this was the karakia that was attempted to be expressed at the Kaipara council meeting and that Jepson suppressed. If it was, Jepson is the offender. Here is the NZME report:

    ‘KDC has had karakia at the start of council meetings for a number of years. It has provided karakia for councillors and staff to use in different situations, should they wish.

    ‘The karakia for opening meetings

    Kia hora te marino
    Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
    Hei hurahi mā tātou I te rangi nei
    Aroha atu, aroha mai
    Tātou i a tātou katoa

    ‘(May peace be widespread, Many the sea be like greenstone; a pathway for all of us this day. Let us show respect for each other, for one another. Bind us all together).’

    • When running training we would start by asking if anyone wanted to do a Karakia or say a prayer. We did it to prevent any blow back about racism. It was insincere on our behalf. We just wanted to get underway with no impediments to what we saw as important training material.

    • Nah, Jepson is just hanging out his shingle for when he retires from local govt & follows the previous incumbent (Smith) into national politics for the Act or Natz party.

    • Reply to John Trezise, Hi John thank you for your insightful comments. I had assumed there was a religious element to the Karakia from what the one News article had shown of the older Kuia seeming to indicate it was religious. But I do assert that a secular value is tolerance, partially because living in a society means there are many different views and values, live and let live. And an exception can be made because it is common is our pacific culture. But great point. A more secular Karakia would have been fine.

  8. Professional victim Ngozi Fulani is outraged – surprise.

    Listening to Mr. Minto describe his pedigree is like hearing a pale-skinned Maaori activist citing three iwi without any mention of European ancestry.

    Speaking of whakapapa, according to one genealogist I’m distantly related to a Minto. Aaargh, who wants that?

    • As Ngozi said in an interview I read, “It felt like violence”. Oh please. If she thought the Royal family were such a bunch of racists, don’t go to the event.

      Yes she is a professional victim.

      Disappointed that Charles or whoever caved to this nonsence that saw the heir to the thrones godmother off the premises after something like 60 years of service. However I do understand why they did.

  9. Unfortunately this lady in waiting picked on the wrong person to have a conversation with. It appears the person in question often wore her country of origins colors and dress. I have an accent people ask me where I am from I tell them. There was a time in NZ people laughed at my accent and there were times i was afraid to speak in case people made fun of me and I cried. Some people were ignorant and made a big deal of asking me to repeat myself. My husband was stronger he didn’t repeat himself ( they understood what he had said ok ). Is ( or was this racism). I am proud of my roots and I don’t understand why some people aren’t. I am no longer afraid to speak !!!

    • Queen. Her country of origin is the Uk, where she was born to West Indian immigrants from the 50’s, and her dress code was derived from that of three different African nations, except for her tiara.

  10. Would we travel any further if we never stopped to put our feet in our mouths?
    In other words making a fuss about fuck all. When the belly’s full all else is art though, I suppose.
    Metaphor alert.
    Vexatious litigation
    We all came from the same place. About half way up our mums. Part of The Great We were dropped off there by our dads and we had little or no say in the matter. I suppose my little sperm self could have wriggled out into the sewers and made whoopee with a rat or something else of more value to society but I didn’t and so here am I like we all are. We’re different colours, I suppose but it’s only the cladding. Some of us could be considered luckier than others while others still could easily be considered monsters and others still angels. But none of us are perfect. I’m pretty close but not close enough. It should also be remembered that we humans all came from that one single African matriarch. Mitochondrial Eve.
    Wikipedia: “In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve (also mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all living humans. In other words, she is defined as the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman. ”
    The thing that worries me more than any other thing-else does is that there is a Monster Culture of creatures who think that by having steerage of vast financial resources that they are somehow superior within the humanism sphere. Unless rich people inherited their money, they’re usually quite mad. Self made lunatics are fiends we should all be educated to be very, very wary of. They, were the slavers, they were the conquerors and dominator’s (not to be confused with garage doors. ) they were the exploiters and brutes who forced themselves on others because they thought they were superior in a God given sort of way, and in a way they were. They were superior for their sadistic insanities. Does that sound familiar to you?
    I can understand why Ngozi Fulani was fucked off with a beaky old white woman condecendingly asking where ‘her people’ came from. They probably ‘came from’ a country that was invaded then after sequestration was pillaged and exploited by white people.
    I remember this from when I was a kid.
    ‘Love They Neighbour’.
    “Love Thy Neighbour has been criticised for its politically incorrect handling of issues of racism, although its writers have claimed that each episode included both anti-white and anti-black sentiment.[1] It is often used as shorthand for television before the era of political correctness. Although both characters were bigoted and intolerant, Bill usually had the last laugh and rarely got his comeuppance.”

  11. Unsolicited enquiries can be vexing for all concerned sometimes. Just ask what you really need to know in a given situation really if work is at all involved.

    In social scenes it is different, be as bold as you like, and be prepared for bold responses. One thing that ticks me off at parties and gatherings is when new meets–men–and it is usually men ask “and what do you do?…”
    my standard answer now is…“I personally facilitate advanced sexual fulfilment techniques for women in relationships, and my down time hobbies are binge drinking and on line gambling”…usually does the trick.

  12. Asking people where they are from is a normal question, especially when they are wearing traditional cultural attire, have changed their name to an African-sounding name and live in a multi-cultural community / country, such as England (or NZ for that matter). Ngozi Fulani is of that vein, for the record. Online she promotes herself as a proud African, has supported Meghan Markle’s take down of the British Royal Family by tweeting about Markle’s alleged domestic violence within the royal family (no scenario or evidence provided). Fulani has also put it out there how traumatised she is, whether lived experience or not is unclear, about the racism she has experienced. In short, Fulani has a chip on her shoulder and in fact, appears to be a woke “plant” with an agenda. Racism cuts both ways and Fulani’s behaviour of publicly shaming a woman in her 80’s rather than dealing with any discomfort by the conversation in a mature way (by way of a complaint to the royal establishment), is evidence in my view, of an agenda. The older white woman in the conversation was clearly not being racist, though mis-read the social cues that her line of questioning may have been uncomfortable to Fulani (though one must ask why was it uncomfortable and why was a self-proclaimed proud of her heritage woman unwilling to answer the basic question). A little clumsy though not ill-intentioned error from someone of a different generation. Asking “Where are you really from?” should not be experienced as a negative nor racist comment these days. It is no more offensive than asking what you do for a living etc. Basic questions that open up conversations when we meet new people. In the case of Ngozi Fulani, this man sums her up rather well, in my opinion, Daniel Boland from UK: https://youtu.be/BgpvndGb8Ls

    • Hey Sinic, when I applied for my first teaching job in London, I was required to undergo psychological testing, including the famous Rorschach (sp ? ) test, and I laughed. When the chappie asked why, I said that I used to administer them, my first degree was in Education, back in the days when universities were rather better than they are now. I passed. Next I was told that I’d have to have a chest X-ray, quote, “Coming from a country like that”, viz New Zealand. That was back when we did have a good health service too, on a par, if not better than the NHS. I just thought it all a bit intriguing, and it didn’t occur to me to go to social media and start bleating about being insulted. Mind you, social media didn’t exist then either.

      Marlene Headley, aka Fulani, appears to be part of an agenda, and an agenda which may be malicious and very dangerous and destructive, for absolutely no good purpose. Not all English of West Indian origin are like her at all. A dear friend there, and for many years back here, was a Westminster Health Council’s Toddlers’ Club mum from Trinidad, and she told me that the discrimination and ill-treatment they mete out on their own back home was a hell of a lot worse than anything that she encountered in the UK.

      Apropos of nothing much, I asked a black Kiwi Bank consultant if she was from Zimbabwe, and she was rather chuffed that I’d correctly identified her country of origin, but now that all questions are insults, I may never ask anybody anything again – apart from politicians ripe for the plucking…

    • Thank you Sinic just watched your Utub article and also to Snow White for bring up the back story. . Being from the UK I have met with some racism both here and in Australia but not particularly bad just annoying. In most cases I put it down to ignorance and moved on . Having visited South Africa a few times and worked in Darwin I have seen the hate filled racism that was stomach turning in it venom . Even here in NZ there is offensive racism but I think mainly from older people of my vintage and as we die off the racism will fade from the white side but there seems to be an anger in many young Maori that may cause the racial divide to continue unfortunately.
      From the utub it is certain that this woman had an agenda and unfortunately a 83 year old woman was her patsy and she took the bait hook line and sinker. The Press may not expose this for fear of being on the side of a wealthy well connected racist which I do not believe is the case

      • Trevor. The thing about you Brits is that you are a tolerant people, gloriously tolerant of eccentricity and difference, and the Brit working class have an acute sense of humour which I sorely miss. Try not to shoot me down for stereotyping, but even a whinging Pom ( oops) who’s lived in both countries can’t help but notice what a humourless parochial little lot we are here.

        That old lady’s generation lived in a time when young folk did defer courteously to their elders, and had Fulani been Chinese or Japanese for example, where filial piety does still permeate society, this unfortunate occurrence may not have taken place. The angry young Maori syndrome in New Zealand may be being deliberately fuelled, and Indigenous Studies Courses of varying quality radicalise some, to the detriment of all.

  13. I’m surprised she didn’t use the usual posh construction ‘and where do your people(in this context family) hail from?
    would that be better or worse.

    the other day I asked a turbanned taxi driver if he was a hindu or a shikh we had a little chat about my ignorant inability to distiguise between the two, then moved onto where I was from in the UK….SO WHO WAS THE RACIST THERE me, him. or both of us….I thought it was just small talk to make the trip shorter…but who knows.

  14. Your article has surprized me Stephen. I was expecting a CRT interpretation of what went on. Thank you for sharing the story of the Zoom call. I really get where you were coming from on this. I have had simiar experiences.
    In London in the 80s we went to a party with an older group of people. We were asked “where are you from”
    The usual NZ, Auckland, Christchurch, didn’t satisfy our questioners. It was only when we said that our great grandfather was Welsh etc, etc. That the questioners were satisfied. We were somewhat amused by this. We certainly weren’t offended. The questioner merely wanted to know our ethnic origins. I think this is a reasonable question.
    The lady in waiting? Well I didn’t realize she asked where Ngozi’s people were from. Maybe it was her tone, who knows. I read Ngozi claimed it was like violence. So sorry, you lose me there. That sounds like woke speak.
    The Lady in waiting may have used an entitled tone, like her question must be obeyed. But it is pretty rich she got the shove for this (was she pushed or did she walk?). This woman is from anothe
    r generation, one in which respect for your elders was valued and this wouldn’t go amiss today.
    My understanding of Maori culture is one of the first questions we are supposed to ask is “where are you from?’
    So in some ways none of us can win (all races I mean)/
    I had the experience in London recently of being in a queue in London to buy train tickets. I was chatting away to two Indian gentlemen. They had Indian sounding accents and in complete innocence I did what travellers do and asked them where they were from. I was promptly told London. And the conversation waned from there on in. There was nothing racist about my question. Sort of an auto pilot question in the context of being a traveller.
    I can imagine the drums of outrage beating by the woke over the lady in waitings racism. I think it may be that black people (or is it now that term people of colour) have been taught to assume ‘where are you from” is an automatic racist insult. This is unfortunate

    • Black people in the USA have been making connections with their origins for some time. The state of Liberia is connected to that. The over-reaction of those with overdose of resentment means that they have to find something to work up steam about beyond reason. Not even ordinary emotion either, just to bully someone completely innocent, good-hearted and interested.

      I enjoy knowing where everyone comes from and what their routes and reasons to NZ are. I am on good terms with those at my takeaway bars, Turkish, Filipino and with Italian backgrounds. I have some relatives German and south England, and have connections to the Czech Republic, Eskimos, Kenya. France etc. Fascinating and interesting. And some honoured friends are Maori, and have studied te reo but don’t use it, have read about Te Tiriti, and tikanga and have been ushered onto the local marae with a powhiri; my standard for a fine moral human being is Maori. I meet an Indian woman I know slightly when we meet in the supermarket, and we do a quick catchup, and I ask one of the men about his feet as he had to go back to India to have an op done as couldn’t get it done here. But he and his wife overlook that as other NZ things are better. Little gestures of kindness and community count for a lot. Let’s not be carried away by culture vultures.

  15. Stuff had an article recently on Chinese and one person resented being asked ‘Where are you from’, implying it represents exclusion and otherness. In actual fact it represents interest and a desire to learn and get to know the ‘other;’ to automatically think otherwise represents prejudice by that person and a lack of respect for themselves.

    Consider how much interest there is in heritage internet sites with people trying to find out details of their own past history. It is enormous, and then there are people going through the DNA process. It is troublemakers who try to deny racial differences, as it is normal to look at people who are different and usually a kindly, interest in them that prompts questions. Screwed up people don’t add to a happy society when they are unhappy themselves. We need to get to know some relevant things about each other, and allay doubts about us doing so.

    I remember Gladys Aylward going to China in the 1930s to work in a Christian mission. She was frightening to the poor people she lived amongst, some threw mud at her – thought she was a white spirit of a sick, dead or evil person. She ended up being respected and chosen to carry out some formidable civil tasks amongst the Mandarin’s constituents such as organising the change from foot binding for women. She faced the scrutiny that all people who are different have to do, and she went on to be accepted and honoured and to serve the people in the area there, as most of our new kiwis do. She adopted five orphans and became a Chinese citizen but after WW2 was regarded as an undesirable and eventually died in Taiwan.

  16. As an immigrant myself, I’m absolutely sure that the Royal lady was being racist.

    Why? Because when you’re asked ” where and you from?” it’s also about the body language. See, I’ve been asked countless times ” Where are you from” by White New Zeelanders, and 99 % of cases I took it as a sweet attempt to connect or to put me at ease by showing interest. But there were those two persons who –given their aggressive undertone– I knew off the bat that they were driven by xenophobia.

    I, too ask darker-skinned immigrants where they are from, but they never take offence because of my tone. On the other hand, I NEVER put that question to a darker-skinned person who speaks with a kiwi accent. Why would I? They were born in the Kiwi culture, they are Kiwis not Indians Shri Lankans or whatever. I might ask them later on if I’m curious. But leading your first interaction with THAT, when the person speaks native English so they obviously grew up here, IS racist.

    • YannaX, Ngozi was race baiting, had a clear agenda, and is known for her woke racist attitude in the UK. She pulled a disgraceful stunt and publicly shamed an old woman with an impeccable reputation. Racism is deadly. Showing a genuine interest in where someone is from is a genuine friendly gesture. Asking anyone where they are from or where their people are from is a perfectly normal question in all social circles in the UK and NZ. If one is ashamed of their heritage / ethnicity (such as post WWII Germanic people were) then to ask such questions could be dangerous, however, the world has moved on. My Punjabi flatmate was very proud of his ethnicity, schooled in NZ and had perfect English, but he definitely did not identify as kiwi nor a NZ citizen, FWIW

      • Take your pick @ Anker. But unless you’ve been on the receiving side of it you’ll probably not recognize it.

    • Yannax. It’s part of her job to get that information and to pass it on to the Queen if making the introductions. Hence at a reception I attended at London House, Mecklenberg Square, the West Indian lady after us was introduced as Miss So and So, from Guyana, so presumably she wasn’t as complicated as Marlene- aka Ngozi – was, whose name tag was also concealed beneath her hair, which is the height of bad manners. It was a set-up. It’s said that Queen Camilla was the target but Marlene didn’t manage to get her on her own.


  17. What I want to know is why and how did the full transcript of the conversation come about? Who was recording?

    • XstraightXedgeX According to UK media, Marlene took a recording device with her to the cocktail party. She runs a charity for West Indian and African survivors of domestic violence. Whites and others are not accepted by her charity. As ascertaining would-be recipients’ ethnicity could involve questioning, then questions about her own ethnicity shouldn’t be foreign to her, particularly when her very distinctive garb was apparently a mix of different sources and not immediately identifiable. It’s surprising she attended the event when she’s anti monarchy, and has made fairly inflammatory accusations against them, including recording Meghan Markle as a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her Uk in-laws.

  18. There are ways to learn about people that don’t offend. They work.
    Asking someone straight up “Where do you come from,” is at best flat footed and worse insulting.

    • Sounds sly and not straightforward – can’t we in NZ be honestly interested and say so. Are we a bit cowardly and not to be trusted in what we say and what we mean? Are we or are we not, 100% Pure. Haha.

  19. Everyday I meet people who look different to me. If I look closely might act differently to. I live in Auckland see. Sometimes I am curious to know ‘where they come from’ but know better to raise the matter. What’s the point other than curiosity? If they are millennials chances are they might be born here. And that makes them Kiwis, right? Perhaps they walk in two worlds and can speak the language(s) of their parent(s). A strength in my view. Or perhaps they came to NZ when they were young. Perhaps they have lost most of the culture and language of their parents. Perhaps not. If they are older chances are they were born elsewhere. But does it matter? Curious as I am isn’t my curiosity simply a kind of ‘othering’ that could easily become a stick and at worst a weapon? But the truth is we all do it. Ya know , unconscious bias and all that. And such bias is not limited to any particular village. I recall struggling at times with being a white-skinned Caucasian when living and working in a country where white-skinned Caucasians were on the one hand provided certain privileges but on the other vilified because they were outsiders. What troubled me most however was to be mistaken for an American! (and apologies to all those American I have of offended).

    • You’re a bozo if you let fleeting memes teach you to not to be interested in your fellow human beings. People respond – if they aren’t negative to others – to genuine interest in them. It ‘s one of the ways that people are advised to adopt when learning how to meet new people at a party etc.

  20. Geez soon we will be banned and canceled if we say to someone ”Isn’t a lovely day and how is your day going?’…some folks will see it as an intrusion.
    We will all end up not speaking or acknowledging our fellow humans.
    What a cold and unfeeling world that will be.
    No wonder mental illness is rife.
    Folks must feel stymied and unheard.

    • Katy Pai Paranoid people can be suspicious of the most innocuous questions or even weather comments, and folk with something to hide may ask, “ Why do you want to know? “

      I have to admit avoiding one young checkout operator who questioned customers like a gestapo agent, usually starting with, “ How’s your day been so far ? “ progressing to “ What you got planned for tonight? “ Rather than admit, “ Nothing,” and at a time of a close death when I didn’t much feel like small talk, I’d made a beeline for one of the more taciturn oldies who just grinned, and that was fine. After lockdown, the camaraderie was welcome, and still is, a tribal togetherness. Strangers greet each other in the street more, and that’s nice too. I learned from Asian colleagues, that a simple, “ That’s private”, works okay for intrusive questions, and have only had to say it once.

      • I think relax about checkout people. It can be annoying but they are I think, asked to make a comment. If the comment is just reversed then the customer has answered and the person is recognised as such and not an automatic robot facing and serving people with no acknowledgment. The weather is quite a good subject.

        In the book The Small Woman about Gladys Aylward in I think Shaansi, China of the 1930’s, I was fascinated by their formal queries beginning a conversation. Each asked the questions say, if they were well, if they had eaten, etc. Adapting to each other takes a while, and requires some patience and goodwill and the knowledge that some people are boorish and need to be dismissed from the mind.

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