Excuse me, do you speak English?

At the very least, I used to empathize with folks who would ask me this question in public places. Why presume that everyone speaks English just because they're in the United States? They could be tourists, visiting family, or any other myriad reason that they may legitimately not be able to converse very well in English.

I'm tired, though. Tired of the presumption that I'm a foreigner or that if I don't speak English, I must speak my ethnic tongue.

I live in California, Caucasians don't even have a plurality population here. Yet, this seems to be a forgotten footnote on just how diverse the population in California is.

I eat my ethnic food, I go shopping at ethnic establishments, and frequent my little ethnic enclaves for those trinkets, snacks, and odds-and-ends that only those places can provide me.

Yes, I do all that.

I've never been to my ‘homeland’, though. I'm just another kid from Southern California and I'm happy with that. When other folks in my ethnic community hear about it, they encourage me to get in touch with my cultural roots, or that I'm somehow not a real member of the community.

Maybe I should visit the ‘mainland’, as it's called, but somehow it seems to invoke the sense that America is a surrogate homeland and the idea that your real home is another world, one you haven't seen and vaguely understand. I like parts of my ethnic heritage — I embrace those parts.

So, no. I don't really know how ‘that place’ is, I've never been to it. And yes, believe it or not, I do speak the language — fluently, as a matter-of-fact. Now excuse me, I'm going to go get a Double Double.