It’s a question that may seem so innocent and mundane: where are you from? But as writer Taiye Selasi explains, to those who do not seem to naturally blend in with their couleur locale, the question may also be intended to mean: why are you here and what are you doing here?

But as Telasi so elegantly argues, nationality is a rather useless concept when defining where one belongs: countries are just an invention, whereas history and culture are not. “We can never go back to a place and find it exactly where we left it. Something, somewhere will always have changed, most of all, ourselves. People.”

Telasi therefore proposes to instead ask the question: where are you local? With which rituals or people in certain places do you connect? Or which restrictions keep you from being where you want to be? Asking this question will help us in finding commonalities rather than differences that set us apart, and that seems like a much better proposition.

(cartoon: Simone Lia)