So, where exactly are you from?: Microaggressions in the workplace

Photo by Peter Heeling
Work, you got to love it, full of people who may not understand where you're coming from and who demand a lot out of you. It's also the place where you get many comments that try to be jokes but fail or are about you in particular. Well, here's a few of the comments that I've heard from the past couple of years by both customers and my coworkers about my race.

Note: I've never said any of the sarcastic replies back because I don't want any of the customers ever reporting me to my bosses, even though I'm sure my bosses will take my side if they hear of it.

Non-Asian guy: *Says something in Mandarin Chinese*
Me: *Tilts head* What?
Non-Asian guy: *repeats whatever he said in Mandarin*
Me: ... I'm sorry, but I'm Vietnamese.
Non-Asian guy: *Big eyes and starts to apologize profusely before going into the auditorium to watch his movie*

"You speak really good English." Thank you, I'm pretty sure living in Utah my whole life has a huge influence on that.
"Are you Filipino?" So far, this is the closest country that I've gotten.
"You're Chinese, ... Japanese?" Neither.
"Where are you from?" Excuse me, but stop thinking that I'm a perpetual foreigner, I'm not!

"So what kind of kung fu do you do?" None, but I'm tempted to learn now.
(Not so much a microaggression but an annoyance.)"Sushi!" Even though I clearly handed my coworker a cup of noodles. That particular coworker has a history of saying various microaggressions to me throughout his time here.
"What is that? Is that Chinese food?" Yes, totally, every type of Asian cuisine is Chinese food and must be Panda Express.

One time when I was on the cash register, this white guy started bowing to me after everything he said. It got annoying, but I couldn't say anything about without coming off as rude.
Another time, while I was helping out with another customer, these two white guys that my coworker was helping just openly stared at me while waiting for their food. It made me feel like a foreign novelty, which isn't a pleasant feeling to feel.

One night my coworkers and I were talking about forming a fake band, and one of them said, "she could be the Japanese character who jumps up and looks cute." My thoughts: yes, I'm totally Japanese, nothing but Japanese all the way.
"Oh, I love eating Asian cuisine" person doesn't proceed to be specific about what kind of Asian cuisine they like. My thoughts: Yeah, totally, Asia is only one big country that mainly consists of East Asians (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) and not Southeast, South, West, North Asia.
Coworker faking a really bad Asian accent: Do you want a wanton?
My thoughts: Why do I bother with this place?
"What kind of Asian are you?" One who's annoyed by microaggressions like that.

And here's an extra one for the kicks of it.
This microaggression didn't happen at work but while I was walking to my car after studying in the library for some time:
Random guy: Where are you from?
Me: Here, but my family is from Vietnam.
Random Guy: Welcome to America!
In my head: Didn't you just hear what I just said?
Me: Uhh, thanks. You know I was born and raised in Utah.
Random Guy: Oh cool...

And now the weather:
Disney Princess in their "original" voice, age, and historical era
~ Stacy N.


Post a Comment