Have you ever experienced racism in the workplace? How did you respond to it?
In my experience, you will find whatever it is you’re looking for. So I don’t look for it. To that end, I cannot say that I have ever experienced institutionalized racism in the workplace. Everybody will encounter ignorance from time-to-time and race-based ignorance can and does come from all demographics, not just the majority population. I was born in the 70’s, had a childhood in the 80’s and became an adult in the 90’s. Things were pretty good by the time I received my first paycheck and things have been great since. [But] that certainly doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exists.
Not that I can think of, although I have heard tons of inappropriate jokes, references, etc. On a micro- level . . . yes. Feeling that I was personally discriminated against because of my race; not blatantly. I am half Caucasian, so people often don’t know I am mixed Asian. This has actually helped me educate others, since typically they are oblivious to my heritage, and allows me to share in a non-threatening way.
Racism that had a negative impact on my career, never. I’ve had very few comments that were racially-based that were based on ignorance. I had one co-worker, who never met me face-to-face and only chatted with me on the phone, that would have never guessed I was Chinese because I spoke “perfect English”. Annoyed, I replied back with ‘I would have never guessed you were an American by your southern accent’; he was from Alabama. I can also honestly say that coming from Midwest America, a moderately conservative area, that racism against Canadian-/American-born Asians has really gone away from the professional ranks. I’ve seen so many Canadian-/American-born Asians and Asian immigrants move up the Corporate ladder to very senior C-levels in the past 20 years. The trick is adapting to the culture around you.
Yes. Over time you move from immediate reaction to more controlled reaction. Now, I view the racist person as the deviant in society.
Yup. I was once asked to audition for the role of Karate Guy in a Disney movie. The one line was ‘It is karate time!’ I didn’t go to that audition.
Yes. I dealt with my experiences differently at different ages and different settings. Mostly, as a professional actor, I had found that rarely did I fit the ‘Asian’ contingent, as casting agents usually mean Jackie Chan, when the most popular Asian on TV has been Apu, on The Simpsons.
As minorities, we have all faced challenges in the workplace. I will say that over the years we have made tremendous progress in the workplace and society in general. Generally [I have responded] with humor and with the position that there is no malice in the initial comment or action followed up by a private discussion about the subject matter to educate and learn.
Fabian De Rozario:
I’ve not experienced hurtful racism in the workplace. There have been hints of “diminished perceptions” in past – likely a combination of race-informed stereotypes and egocentric attitudes – none that I was not able to address directly in a professional way.