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Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question

“Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question” is a poem written by Diane Burns and published in 1991.
Author
Diane Burns
Grade Level
6-8

Source
Republished with permission from The Minnesota Humanities Center
Text Dependent Questions
Question
What questions, assumptions and stereotypes does the poet get asked about her appearance?
Answer
People think she’s either Chinese or Hispanic. She has to clarify that being an “Indian” does not mean she is from India. Or they assume that if she’s Native American, then she must be a member a well-known tribe, such as the Navajo, Apache or Sioux.
Question
What are some of the common things she hears from other people who try to relate to her once they learn that she’s Native American?
Answer
They tell her that they have a Native American in their family or that they have had Native American friends or lovers.
Question
What do people often assume she is good at or knows about?
Answer
People assume that she knows where to find peyote and Navajo rugs, that she makes her own clothes, that she knows who all the other Native Americans are, that she has some special spirituality and that she may have a drinking problem.