Part of me knew this was going to happen.

As a Canadian born of Lebanese parents, there is no such thing as asking for a corn dog without being told, “You know there’s pork in there right?”

Yeah, I know.

As much as I wanted to be angry at this person for assuming that I was Muslim solely based on my appearance, I knew this question was asked in good faith so I simply brushed it off.

But there’s another reason why I couldn’t be mad: I make assumptions based on people’s appearances all the time – everyone does.

And you know what? It’s completely normal to do so; it’s in our nature as human beings to subconsciously assume certain things about individuals based on their physical appearance depending on our own upbringing and experiences.

That being said, voicing these assumptions out loud can be insulting to others, even if there is no malicious intent.

Now more than ever, passing judgement based on someone’s appearance – especially race – is a surefire way to make a conversation very awkward, very fast. As a multicultural city in a country that prides itself in its acceptance of others, we should expect someone who has a different ethnic background to be “Canadian” and not fit certain stereotypes that the outward appearance might suggest.

Thankfully, there is a way to rise above this natural need to classify people. Although there is no real way to stop these thought processes, it is possible for us to analyze our assumptions before acting on them.

To be able to take a step back and ask ourselves, “Could that question make this person uncomfortable?” or, “I’m curious, but do I really need to know if this person speaks Mandarin?” can make a big difference.

The point I’m trying to make here is that everyone just wants to be treated the same. If you need to know something about a person’s cultural background, they will most likely tell you.

If there’s any doubt left in your mind, just remember this wise old saying: don’t assume, ’cause you might make an ass out of u and me.