Well, people ask me my nationality and assume I'm more than one ethnicity by looking at me, which is perfectly fine with me. It's just modest curiosity. I don't see how this question should ever be interpreted as offensive, even if asked by a total stranger, because honestly, it's not personal. People shouldn't need to warm up to you before asking your race. It's just trivial. I have modest curiosity myself and ask the heritage of others at times - politely, mind you-and none of them have ever taken offense. And even in the case of assuming certain features belonging to certain races and vice versa, there should be some patience applied, because it's not an ignorant way of thinking really. It's pretty unavoidable. Just let them know that every race can have any conceivable trait and move on.
Originally Posted by Jufroh
Sorry, but I disagree with this. There is a difference between innocent curiosity and being disrespectful in how one asks questions.

It IS personal when somebody stares at me like I'm a freak or feels the need to ask what my "race/ethnicity/nationality" is. I don't believe that anyone should be obligated to explain their heritage to complete strangers, especially if the question is asked in a disrespectful way.

Just because you don't mind when people ask about your heritage, doesn't mean that others will feel the same way. Personally, I tend to feel uncomfortable when people ask me certain questions because I feel like they're judging me and sizing me up...putting me on the spot because my ambiguous appearance makes them uncomfortable.

I would rather have a conversation with somebody who takes the time to know me instead of immediately jumping into a discussion of what I'm mixed with. My first thought is, why do they want to know? How will that information serve them? I know that people often feel the need to classify others, but I don't want to be put into a box. I don't want to be stereotyped. I want to be acknowledged for who I am, not what people think I am or what they expect me to be.