Created By: SonofRojBlake on January 18, 2012 Last Edited By: SonofRojBlake on January 19, 2012

Mistaken Ethnicity

Person is mistaken for an ethnicity not their own

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Is This Tropeable?

A character or actor is assumed by another to be of a particular ethnicity when they're in fact not. Common enough experience in Real Life for those whose features conform to a stereotype or who live and/or work in a particular area or profession. The character/person's reaction to the assumption can quickly give an insight into their attitudes.

Specifically not overlapping with Mistaken Nationality, as nationality is not, in the case of this trope, the issue, but rather the person's background. Potentially Unfortunate Implications - "You look (insert ethnicity)". Usually (but not always) white people being assumed to be Jewish/Hispanic/black.

Examples

Television
  • On an episode of Seinfeld Elaine dates a man she believes to be black. As it turns out, he isn't and in fact, he believes she is hispanic. Once they realize they're "just a couple of white people", they are both visibly disappointed. It is implied they break up almost immdiately

Real Life
  • Ethel Merman vehemently denied that she was Jewish, which led to her being accused of ant-Semitism.
  • Charlie Chaplin was famously "accused" of being a Jew, and graciously responded "I do not have that honour."

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • January 18, 2012
    Koveras
    What's up with all the Jewish tropes in YKTTW recently? We don't even have tropes on Mistaken For Spanish, Mistaken For Bulgarian, and Mistaken For Ainu yet!
  • January 18, 2012
    Catbert
    The basic concept isn't bad, but this seems too specific to me. Perhaps we could expand this to something that could apply to any ethnic identity?
  • January 18, 2012
    SonofRojBlake
    The specific case of mistaken for Jewish came up in another thread. Will change.
  • January 18, 2012
    AP
    • On an episode of Seinfeld Elaine dates a man she believes to be black. As it turns out, he isn't and in fact, he believes she is hispanic. Once they realize they're "just a couple of white people", they are both visibly disappointed. It is implied they break up almost immdiately.
  • January 18, 2012
    TheHandle
    Chaplin wasn't Jewish?
  • January 18, 2012
    TrustBen
    "Mistaken Ethnicity" might be a better trope name, since in absolute terms, everyone is ethnic.
  • January 18, 2012
    Koveras
    Mistaken Ethnicity sounds good.
  • January 18, 2012
    SonofRojBlake
    Mistaken Ethnicity it is.
  • January 18, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    We have Mistaken Nationality. I know ethnicity is not the same as nationality, but there might be a lot of overlap.
  • January 18, 2012
    SKJAM
    Happens a lot to Ambiguously Brown folks, and people who have just enough "exotic" ancestry that they don't quite fit the Phenotype Stereotype folks from their area usually look like.
  • January 18, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Independence Day is not this trope. David's dad didn't mistake the guy for Jewish. He invited him to join in prayer. He happened to be praying in hebrew because he was Jewish, and the other guy wasn't sure he should join in since he wasn't Jewish.

    Also, Unfortunate Implications for this trope because "all [insert ethnicity here] look alike anyway."
  • January 18, 2012
    SonofRojBlake
    It's emphatically not Mistaken Nationality, since it started off as Mistaken For Jewish, which is something that seems to happen with reasonable frequency in fiction and real life. This was regarded as "too specific", so it was widened. If that now conflicts with another trope into which Mistaken For Jewish clearly doesn't fit, it should probably go back to being specific again.

    Independence Day quote removed. Shame - could have included a link to Some Like It Hot under the words "Nobody's perfect".
  • January 19, 2012
    VincentGaribaldi
    Super Troopers: It's a running joke that no one knows what race Ramathorn is.
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