Hi, I’m an American, and I’ve met you before


My Money Forest has written about and asked if anyone’s experienced any of them.

I’ve definitely experienced stereotypes at work, though perhaps not the workplace stereotypes he’s listed, at least overtly.

Example 1: I guess I was na├»ve when I thought that working for a global, Fortune 50 company meant my coworkers would be more sophisticated. I’m an Asian-American woman, and born and bred in the US. Last time I checked, I speak English without an accent (or if with an accent, a Midwestern or Southern one).

My first week at work there, I got asked questions like “when did you come over from China” (uh, never, and wrong country anyway), and “how did you pick your English name” (er, how did you pick yours? ‘Cause that’s always been my one and only name!) by at least three different people, one of them my manager. Didn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies about joining my new team. Of course, I didn’t have the presence of mind at those moments to give those flippant answers, and they probably wouldn’t have helped the situation anyway. C’est la vie.

Example 2: A previous, different company I’d been working for for over a year had just finished acquiring a smaller company from Silicon Valley whose employees happened to be mostly Asian/Indian. Someone I’d already met previously, seen around, and emailed on a regular basis at work introduced himself to me again in the elevator one day because he assumed I’d just joined the company via the acquisition. Hooray for diversity, and talk about feeling invisible.

Still, I’ve come to the conclusion that as annoying as these types of questions are, it’s better that they’re asked and answered than for them to remain hidden away in the back of someone’s mind. Plus, it’s not as if I don’t have any misconceptions of my own to fix.

At least by asking, there’s a little less ignorance in the world and, hopefully, a little more understanding!


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6 Feedbacks on "Hi, I’m an American, and I’ve met you before"


ooh ooh… Please ask OPEN-ENDED questions, rather than questions that have an inherent assumption in them, i.e. so when did you come from China? A) I’m not Chinese. B) I was born in the the States.

Try asking something like, “What ethnicity are you?” It’s liable to produce the answer you were really looking for and a more interesting discussion.

My response is straight out of Friday 2. “I’m KO-rean, m*therf*cka!”


Thanks for sharing! One of the stereotypes my girlfriend gets a lot is, “You must be good at math.” She’s Asian-Pacific Islander-American raised on Guam.


@mapgirl: Good points. And I wish I had the tenacity to respond like that when it’s called for!

@Tim: yep, that’s a very common one! I guess from a practical standpoint, there are worse things to be stereotyped as….


Ricemutt-I don’t say that to just anybody, but it’s partly the diction. Watch the movie and you’ll see why in the right situation, it gets a laugh.

As far as Tim’s comment goes, why yes, I am good at math, mostly because I studied and paid attention in class, not so much because I’m genetically better at abstract skills. I’d never claim that since it’s inherently a stupid position to take (but isn’t that the bias in the question when asked?). At this point in a conversation, I like to beat down on American culture just to rile the other person. heh heh. (I can’t believe people think I’m nice around the office.) After that, people stop asking me questions about my personal background that aren’t relavant to my job skills.


I’ll have to rent Friday After Next. I saw Friday ages ago and then missed out on the sequel because we weren’t in the country when it was released, I think.


According to my Diversity Class other stereotypes include (but are not limited to):

White Men – Arrogant, Like Beer, Insensitive

African-Americans – Underqualified, Poor, Lazy

Jews – Miserly, Snobbish, Cliquish

White Women – Bad At Math, Competitive, Flaky

Japanese Men – Demanding, Vindictive, Workaholics

French Men – Sexy, Arrogant, Unfaithful

East Indian Women – Passive, Quiet, Uneducated

Crazy huh?