This 'Teen Wolf' Actress Has Some Advice For The Next Time You're About To Ask Someone 'What Are You?'

“It doesn’t matter what I am. It doesn’t matter what you are. We’re just people. I’m just human.”

In a five-minute video, Teen Wolf star Arden Cho started a much-needed dialogue about a simple three-word question that can make people feel degraded ethnically and racially: "What are you?" While seemingly innocent, if not approached in the right way, this can make someone feel as an "other" and take away from the fact that they are, in fact, just another human like you.


"It's such a personal question sometimes and the way people ask it is just so rude," Cho explains in the YouTube video, aptly titled "What Am I?"

The 31-year-old actress — who admits being called "every single racial slur an Asian person can be called" — goes on to describe some of the microaggressions she has experienced and how sometimes it isn't worth it to her to get into a full-blown discussion with the person. Now, though, Cho is setting the record straight on the issue with this video.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Cho's video is tackling the issue over being "so tired of people saying you have to look a certain way to be an American." For instance, Cho's says both her parents are Korean but she was born in Texas, went to high school in Minnesota, went to college in Illinois, and now calls L.A. her home. So, when people then ask where she is "really from," they're insinuating that, because she isn't White, somehow that makes her less American.

"It doesn't matter what I am. It doesn't matter what you are," Cho says, putting a lid on the topic — hopefully once and for all. "We're just people. I'm just human."

Check out Cho’s full YouTube video here:

While Cho's point seems to be to treat each other the same way and not make them feel different because of their race or ethnical origins, Jen Chau Fontán — executive coach and founder of Swirl, a multiracial community committed to initiating and sustaining cross-racial, cross-cultural dialogue — thinks it is most important to "care a little more" to "learn in a deeper way about how each others' identities show up in our lives," and not treat someone's life experiences as "a fun guessing game."

Chau Fontán also shares a similar opinion to Cho's in regards to actually discuss someone's race and ethnicity in a constructive, thoughtful, and kind way.

"What feels problematic is when someone asks 'What are you?' in passing," Fontán tells A Plus. "It can be offensive on the receiving end when you know you are not going to spend significant time with someone and they are just trying to tend to their curiosity. People want to know how to categorize one another in order to know how to interact — but this is short-sighted since there is a lot of diversity within any group of people."

Chau Fontán suggests it is best to "find out more about someone's identity through the natural process of getting to know them," as "identity can feel personal to some." Better yet, you can seek out spaces built for having these kinds of conversations, give the person adequate time to hear them out, and be ready to share your own perspective on your own identity "so that it feels like an exchange versus a one-way prodding for information."

"I always think authenticity is the best way to go — just telling someone that you are curious and trying to be upfront about wanting to learn more about what a person thinks and has experienced is honest," she adds. "Or just listen and get a sense of who someone is over time; let them give you info versus you trying to pull it out of them."

(H/T: Teen Vogue)


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