Americans have a saying : “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” I’ve heard professors say this as they try to encourage students to speak up in class and learn from each other.
Well, I disagree.
There are stupid questions. Many. I have been asked these questions by coworkers, classmates, acquaintances, frenemies, even strangers. In my previous post, I was asked a stupid question by a coworker which had me uncharacteristically stumped. Usually though, when assaulted confronted with these, my first instinct may be to rain down a litany of African curses on their heads. The kind my grandmother used to dish out. But then, I would not only scare them, may also be labeled the anti-social, crazy, Black woman. So… what do I do? I check them with one of my snarky comebacks, while keeping my facial expressions pleasant by adding the following:
- A big smile
- Eyes opened a tad wider
- Frequent blinking
One or a combination of these will give off a very cheerful, friendly and chipper vibe, thereby creating a nice contrast for the sarcasm you are about to unleash.
Here are some questions I have gotten and my responses.
(At a work happy hour with a Supplier) You look too young to be in this role. How old are you? Old enough, I think. Actually, I’m not sure. Would you mind cutting up my food into smaller, bite-sized pieces? Thanks.
You are so articulate and you’re from Africa. You speak English so well, how did you learn? At the airport. As soon as I arrived, I stopped the first White man I saw and asked him to teach me English.
Oh, where are you from? Nigeria? Oh cool. There’s a man in our church who’s from ummm… (*turns to husband*) Honey where’s Peter from again? I think Tanzania. Do you know him? Peter from Tanzania? Oh, yes! I think I might. I think his hut might have been a few doors down from our compound.
Is this really your name? It sounds American. Did you just change your name because you were applying for the job? 👀…Yes. My reeaaal name is spelled Nduxgherzxyhjsfikwe. It actually means Oh Sarcastic One.
Wow, you travel a lot. You must make a lot of money? Yes. You know I also work nights as a part time flight attendant.
Oh, you went to a ‘Black’ University? That’s… interesting. Do you feel it was as good as sayyyy a…..non ‘Black’ University? You may be right! *rubs chin thoughtfully* We did spend the entire time learning about MLK and Malcolm X and Stomping the Yard.
The length of your hair changes so frequently. First long and then short and then long again in 2 weeks. Yea, Black hair is like that. You literally pull on it and it extends out of our scalps. Cool, eh?
I heard Black women can’t wash their hair. How gross! Is it true? Yea well, we do our bit to conserve water. We do care about the planet.
You run? That’s … different. I don’t know any Black women who run. I think it’s because of their hair, right? Oh no, that’s not true. We have to practice running from the Police.
You like watermelon. That makes sense I guess. Do you like any other fruits? No, just watermelon. Yea, as kids we used to practice who could spit the seeds out the farthest. Wanna see me try?
What stupid questions have you gotten and what are your snarky comebacks? Please follow and share.