I find it interesting that you insist on telling me he is “tri-racial” (lord knows you wouldn’t want to leave one of the three out) or “American.” It appears that you’d be more annoyed if he chose one race as opposed to saying all three, so just ignore them all. A “race questioner” is sometimes just curious about appearance. While I would not ask a stranger about race, unless thre was a relevant discussion going on, you seem to be a bit rattled by race already. Again, I get asked am I Ethiopian all the time but the difference is I’ve been raised to be confident as an African-American woman. So when people ask me, I smile and go, “Y’know, I get asked that all the time. Nah, born and raised in Chicago.” The question actually made me more fascinated by Ethiopian women and culture, not rattled by the question. And I keep it moving.
“American” does indeed wipe out part of his existence just as much as saying someone is “human” wipes out the pride to be a man or woman. It makes as much sense as saying someone has a “career” instead of saying she’s a “writer/firefighter/nurse/lawyer,etc.” It’s also not a micro-aggression to ask. You sound more defensive than he is, which leads me to believe that he’s carrying on this frustration from you. Interesting. It sounds like the same way the original guy I wrote about would get frustrated when talking about his Jamaican side, but he could talk for hours about how much he admired white people.
If you consider it “good news” that he’d rather wipe his hands of identifying himself and just pass through to be “popular” and “graduate,” it’s a great way to make sure people assimilate. It’s a gloriously successful way to “pass.” But personally, I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to be known as “triracial” and enjoying learning about all three cultures.
To each his own.