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Pet Sins January 2005

Chinese professional ignores blacks and Hispanics for networking purposes

I am an Asian professional in a large US corporation. Recently, a leader of the Chinese employee organization in the company came to me asking me what I thought about his idea of creating an online group for employees of different nationalities to network with each other through a mentor-mentee relationship. He had the good of his community in mind, since many of the Chinese who work in my company are competent in English, but don't feel comfortable enough with it to be professionally successful. I thought that his idea of matching Chinese employees with native English speakers, and the extended goal of networking between different language-speakers beyond Chinese and English was an admirable one, and I told him I supported it. He then asked me to get the word out. I took it upon myself to promote his upcoming project to non-Chinese employee organizations in our company, especially the black and Hispanic organizations. There was a good response from these groups, and I communicated very clearly to him that the black and Hispanic organizations were interested.

Very shortly later, he launched his club and sent an email to various diversity employee groups - groups corresponding to the Asian ethnicities were all contacted, his white co-workers were contacted, but notably missing from his mailing list were the black and Hispanic employee groups. I was offended and upset that they were so blithely ignored. Maybe I should have seen the warning signs - this guy wanted to improve his English, and one of his white friends wanted to learn Chinese, so they came up with the idea of staring this group. Now I don't like to prejudge people - just because an Asian is chummy with a European doesn't necessarily mean this Asian despises other people of color. And if he really wants to network with an English nativer speaker, his mentor could be of any ethnicity as English-speakers come in all colors. So I really did think that the black and Hispanic employees would fit very well within his vision, but apparently, they don't even count.

Now I don't know if he is being deliberately racist - probably not, but he certainly does not have blacks and Hispanics on his radar screen. The only interracial relationships that matter to him are those between Asians and whites.