International Person of Mystery

Sometimes mixed people look black. Sometimes they look Asian. And sometimes, they look like_________ (insert what you expect to see here).
Many of my mixed friends look like they could almost be anything, except Scandinavian. When we travel internationally, from Europe and North Africa to Australia and South America, people assume we're natives. If you speak the local language well, this can be a fun benefit. If not, it's very confusing for everyone. Sometimes this confusion happens in my own city.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in an Indian neighborhood with my friend JB, who is one of those mixed people whose features favor the black in him, like Barack Obama. We stopped in a store full of books, statues and cooking implements from south Asia. The store was well-manned with several employees, all of whom were clearly, in my opinion, Indian and looked like they were working - dressed for the indoors, making eye contact with people as they came in, etc. Despite this, three separate people approached JB with questions about items for sale. Even in his hat, scarf and coat, they thought he was Indian and worked in the store. 
A month previously, JB had been in Mexico. When being polite and holding a restaurant door open for his girlfriend and then some tourists, he was thanked in Spanish by the tourists. Of course, they thought he Mexican and was working. It's surprising, actually, that they didn't hand him their car keys and tell him to keep the car close!
I like to call this phenomenon the "International Person of Mystery." Remember this when you're out and about - that black guy might actually be half Korean and be able to understand you if you're talking about him, and that Latino girl might actually just be black and white and not speak a word of Spanish!

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