Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Woman, A Minority, A Planner

It's been quite a long time since I've last posted. This whole work thing really takes up a lot of the day! My job as a real life planner is going swimmingly. I have great colleagues and interesting projects. The one thing I did not expect, naively so, was to face racism and sexism while on the job.

Now I understand that racist and sexist remarks happen all the time, regardless if I pay attention or not. I have experienced my fair share in the past as a half-asian woman, but never in the course of my work. Let me be clear that it is not directly from my colleagues or clients, but from members of the public or other people involved in the planning process as we do community outreach and other activities. The tone is never mean or mocking, but seems to stem from a lack of understanding or even knowledge that words or actions are hurtful and disrespectful, so much so they can even be funny. Here's a few examples:

1. Man at a public meeting walks up to me to ask a question.
Man: So, what language do you speak other than English?
Me: Just English.
Man: just English?
Me: Yes, and a little bit of Spanish.
Man walks away with a confused look on his face.

2. I stand in a line of consultants introducing ourselves to a line of people walking into a meeting. As one man approaches, I drop my pen. I reach down and pick it. After I stand, the man says to me: "Oh! I thought you were bowing!"

3. Walking into a room with a male colleague to great a group of people before a meeting. The gentleman that is leading the group sees me and I say hello and extend my hand for a greeting. He looks at me, then over my shoulder my older, male colleague. He then walks past me to shake the hand of my male colleague and introduce himself, then comes back to me to shake my hand.

While the first two incidents didn't really get to me, the last one definitely did. It was so blatantly disrespectful and was really an act that served to put me in my place. It motivates me to hold my head up high, learn more, and be better at what I do. I know I will encounter many more of these types of incidents in the future, but I will always be proud to be a woman, a minority, and a planner.