my desk

Last Wednesday, I was working at my desk by the window when a group of teenage boys walked by and saw me by the window.

“Do you know how to fix the iPhone?”, one shouted at me.

Hearing that remark, I assumed that he was taunting me for being an Asian. (I might be wrong!) While I was a little annoyed, I decided to pretend that I couldn’t hear him through my headphones and continued working on my laptop.

Then, they became rowdier – knocking on my window, shouting at me and banging on my door. I continued to ignore them despite them being right in front of me. Eventually, they gave up, toppled my wheelie bin and walked away.

Was I irritated? You bet! Was it all that bad? Not quite!

Coincidentally, I had an assignment for one of my modules – Strategic Games due the following day and I turned this incident into the content of the essay!

I had to write about an interactive situation in the media or my everyday life which resembles a strategic game. I was struggling to think of one until this incident and it felt like a great example of brinksmanship!

I think I have to thank the boys now! ?

Everything happens for a reason

I wanted to write this post because I feel that when something seemingly bad happens, it is seldom as bad as it seems and if we look hard enough, there’s likely a good side to it. Everything happens for a reason.

Also, I wanted to share that it doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of discrimination. I don’t fault the boys entirely because I believe I’m not perfect in this way generally too.

While I do not intentionally discriminate others, I believe I make unintentional (and possibly not so nice) associations of people due to my unconscious bias (Thanks, Natalie and Courtney, for the unconscious bias training!). And this incident and reflection are a great reminder for myself to tackle my unconscious bias. Again, another good outcome ?

Good side to things

  • Zhou

    I feel like this entry does a disservice to the fight against racial discrimination. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” here implies that it is the victims fault and reinforces the systematic racial oppression people of color experience in western society. I believe this entry would have benefited greatly from explaining what that reason is. The “reason” why this happened stems from systemic oppression that is racism, white supremacy, and colonialism. So while you hint at this in your entry, saying that it is not these boys’ fault entirely for their racist actions, you failed to explain why these notions are in place. Without an explanation of the origins of these racist ideas, it provides a way for white people and other oppressors to feel like they can continue to oppress and marginalize coloured people. So I believe that as a person of colour who experiences discrimination and has decided to write about it in a public format, it is part of your duty to fight these systems of oppression and stop allowing the oppressors to blame the victims for letting themselves be victimized. It is not the victims fault for the history of colonialism and racism that perpetuate this oppression; it is white people and people of colour who are content with the current system of white supremacy that hurts and limits racialized groups. So if you sincerely believe that it is ok for people to marginalize other people based off race then continue to write about your experience with racial discrimination with complete disregard to white privilege, racism, and colonialism. However if you want to create a more accepting and progressive diverse world where minorities are not discriminated by white-cis-straight-men, please write about racial experiences in a more responsible manner, and don’t perpetuate systems of oppression.

    • Hello Zhou!

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a long comment. While the purpose of this post is about looking at the good side of bad experiences, it does feel like it might have led to unintended consequences.

      I think I might have done a disservice to the progress in the Western society too and I’d love to share a bit more. While there is still room for improvement, I believe that the people I know, regardless of race and gender, are being treated equally and my British, European and American friends do not see themselves as being superior to me or others. That said, this is from my limited experience in the university, at an internship and a startup and this exceptional incident has proven that our society could be better.

      Nevertheless, thank you for the nudge and lesson here.