HomeAsian AmericansAsian Woman's Viral Post Highlights Job Discrimination Based On Race

Asian Woman’s Viral Post Highlights Job Discrimination Based On Race

By Zara Zhi
AsAmNews Staff Writer

A social media post about job discrimination by an Asian American woman is quickly going viral. Tiffany Trieu was excited about a job she had applied for and sent a LinkedIn message to the company’s president.
But, as she explains on Facebook, her enthusiasm quickly turned into horror:

“Racial discrimination in the job market is real. It’s unfortunate I had to experience it myself to believe it.

I am speaking up about this as I and many of my friends are on the job search. We are all looking for a work environment to pour hard work into, give back to the community, and build a career (hopefully paying off college loans, too). For someone to turn you down before they consider what you can offer because of their assumptions based on how you look, your race, your nationality…that is extremely disappointing.

I applied to a water feature design position and sent a follow-up LinkedIn message to the studio’s president. Unfortunately this is what I received, and I also must note the president is a White male.

This conversation is given that the only information he had was my profile picture on LinkedIn. The most disconcerting part is HIS RESPONSE, not taking responsibility for his wrongful assumptions. That he “not [a] bad” person would never jump to the conclusions that he did.

If this happens to you, know you don’t have to face it alone. We should speak up. Our silence can keep privileged people in their positions of power.

Thank you for listening. Let us focus on HIS RESPONSE, rather than mine. This is where the problem lies. The next step is for us to do something. So how do you help? Let’s make discrimination, racism, -isms a part of our everyday conversations.”

Unfortunately, the response she received from the White male leader was less than welcoming. The president had turned her down based on confirmation bias regarding her citizenship and status as an American.

“Thank you very much for writing. Your persistence is respectful, as is your obvious poetic sympathies for water,” he writes.

“We have two hurdles to leap before we could engage you. The first is that we would need to maintain a higher flow of work, which could happen, but then the second is that we’ve hired so many foreign nationals that it seems time for us to hire an American, or be unfair. The chances of both hurdles being surmounted within a year are very slim, and so I cannot encourage you in this.

“However, if you do find yourself in Los Angles someday, please do make arrangements to visit the studio. I’m sure we could who you what we are working on and discuss any aspect of the work you may find interesting.”

The president of the studio judged Trieu based on her appearance, ignoring that she is in fact American.

She politely writes back:

“Thank you for your time and responding to me.

I would like to clarify that I am an American and unsure of how you came to the conclusion I am not American born. It is more important to note that America is made up of nothing but “foreign nationals” from one generation or another. As a country which prides itself for diversity and equality since it was established, I would hope its citizens uphold that belief as well.

On behalf of other minorities, I would like to express my sincere hopes that your assumptions will not prevent you from considering individuals who may contribute vastly to your team’s work and in the field in the future.

I appreciate your invitation to visit your studio as I am often in the LA area. Though you extend your invitation, I honestly do not feel accepted and welcome. Nonetheless, I wish you the best with your future projects and hope to have left you with a different perspective.”

Despite the incredibly ignorant mistake he made, the president’s only response was:

“You got the wrong guy. I’m sorry, of course if I offended you. I’m not bad.”

Has anything like this happened to you? Share you stories below.

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  1. RE: Asian American’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: I was told, twice in my career, “Asians aren’t management material.” A supervisor, five years ago, told me “Everyone knows Asians are too meek and don’t have what it takes to be in management.” I basically told her that was racist BS. She was gone within the year.

  2. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: I think she took it too far. She was overreacting. It was not intentional. They did not deny her a job. They simply expressed that they are not looking to hire international workers (issues like the the company would have to sponsor them, they might stay only for a short time, etc, they might not want to deal with). They could have told anyone about it, they could have told that to a white job seeker with an European last name (think about Swedish, Nordic, Russian, whatnot.), or anyone with an uncommon name. ( Trieu is definitely not a common Asian last name/translation.) and I don’t think people should get defensive about it, Just tell them you are American, they’ll know. Some things I’ve noticed with Asian American is that they want the American Identity so badly, they upset themselves. They don’t want to be associated with their Heritage, they are so disconnected with it they think it should not matter anymore (to them, so they assume others SHOULD take the same approach about them. ) and they’ll fault you for every assumption, whine about it, be offended again some other time, whine again, so on.
    Why can’t you be happy being you? Why care what others think so much? This isn’t grade school anymore.

    • RE: Asian Woman’s Viral Post Highlights Job Discrimination Based on Race:”Some things I’ve noticed with Asian American is that they want the American Identity so badly, they upset themselves.” I can reply to this one as I’m a European-born Asian and I have elicited just about the same assumptions from Asians and non-Asians alike, 90% of which were erroneous. I’m not going to make any assumptions on your background but how often have YOU had to question the role of your ethnicity in the way society perceives you?

    • RE: Asian Woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: I have been left completely exasperated by your comment. It’s so shockingly tone death. It has ZERO with not wanting to be associated with their heritage. I am proud of my Asian heritage and also proud to be an American. The issue is that that people like you can’t seem to understand that being both is possible. The first problem, is that he automatically assumed she was not American by no other criteria than her last name, and perhaps her Linkedin picture. The second problem is that he reduced her to down to her race without first evaluating her credentials. The third problem is that he is the president of a studio in freaking LA, the most diverse place in the US, and yet it seems he’s never met an American who happens to be Asian.

      So yeah, his statement is highly problematic, and being an apologist for this kind of behavior is also inexcusable.

  3. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: May I add that putting her name and photo in the article is bad press. If someone’s gonna take offense to any unintentional assumptions such as this, and be upset/making an article about it- I don’t think I’d want to work/hire that person. It’s sorta childish. The company was just putting it out there they are not looking for internationals to filter out such applicants.

  4. RE: Asian Woman’s Viral Post Highlights Job Discrimination Based on Race: Bias : Acting on presupposed knowledge even if such knowledge is unfunded.
    Tiffany reacted with poise and did not burn bridges in her composed reply, explaining the mistake and hoping that this will change the White male’s perspective. The company’s president on the other hand is purely defensive and offers no olive branch, makes no amend. “You got the wrong guy.” – well maybe so but you still haven’t changed her perception that you are unfit to make basic decisions.

  5. RE: Asian Woman’s Viral Post Highlights Job Discrimination Based on Race:Oh and Trieu might not be as common as Nguyen as far as last names go but that’s still no reason to bring it up as an argument. It’s yet another vehicle for prejudice.

  6. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlight job discrimination based on Race: Unfortunately I’ve experience quite the opposite of this ordeal. I’m European American and twice I had to leave jobs where I worked for Asian Americans due to how poorly they treated me and basically nothing I did was ever enough. I will NEVER waste my time with people who disrespect and discriminate.

  7. RE:Asian womans viral post highlights job discrimination based on race:I have a PhD in engineering and a string of security clearances from DoD. Still, the only jobs I’ve had came about after arm-twisting by influential mentors who have known my abilities. In over 35 years of working life I HAVE NEVER GOT A RESPONSE TO ANY DIRECT JOB APPLICATIONS. I quit looking in disgust just short of qualifying for social security benefits.
    I have too many Anglo-named friends who never believed that American employers discriminate on the basis of names. Thank you for confirming my suspicions.
    Nativists : Your notions of meritocracy and ‘greatness’ are a bunch of hooey – go fix yourselves.

  8. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: This just screams law suit. The idiot just admitted to discrimination in his letter.

  9. RE: Asian Woman’s Viral Post highlights job discrimination based on race: Try this experiment. Craigslist has freebie listing. Set up two accounts, one with Asian name and another with “white” name. Respond to the ad with Asian name first, then respond with white name if you don’t hear back after about an hour. You’ll be very disappointed at some parts of your city.

  10. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: Classic I am not a bad guy response! She got a response that many of my Black friends have gotten in the past.

    • Re: Asian woman’s viral post highlights discrimination based on race: “I’m not a bad guy, honest! I have 2 Asian friends and I dated an asian girl in college!!!”

  11. RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights discrimination based on race:It always amazes me the disbelief of other minorities to the fact that racism is real even towards them. It was just suppose to be a black thing and that was Ok. Look at the tables now however, to think you were immune of white supremacy. No exception is now the realization, Sad but true.

    • RE: Asian woman’s viral post highlights job discrimination based on race: Great comment and so true! These other minorities spent all their time licking the white mans boots, and now that the white man feels threatened by them (like he did by blacks – thus the slavery and Jim Crow laws, discrimination etc), the whites are now discriminating against them. It truly is hilarious that they thought they were somehow honarary whites. Reality is a b1tch, just because a white man smiles at you doesnt mean you’re accepted into his circle. Welcome to the world of black people other minorities lol


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