On April 13, 2021, Logos Fellow Yinnan Shen was interviewed by Amine Rahal at Thrive Global on the difficulties she has dealt with as an Asian woman in corporate America.
When asked about unique challenges she has faced, Shen described the difficulties of having a non-American name, dealing with stereotypes at work as an Asian woman, and professionally conducting herself while maintaining a low profile to avoid attention.
“Because of the model minority myth, we Asian Americans are extra pressured to prove our worthiness in the workplace. We’re constantly in the mindset that respect to us is earned not given. We must not let people down, we must be diligent and perform well, otherwise we don’t deserve to be part of America,” she explained. “Additionally, because of the persistent sense of otherness we feel in this country, we’re accustomed to just be quiet and work hard. “If I can just blend into the mass, maybe no one would notice that I’m different, maybe I would belong.”
She also described how the rise in anti-Asian hate creates new challenges for Asians and Asian Americans, and what is required to lessen or overcome acts of discrimination Asians and Asian Americans face.
“Culture change will be the key, whether for an organization or for a country as a whole,” Shen explained. “Leaders have a responsibility to model and reward the behaviors they hope to see more. They also have the responsibility to create an inclusive environment, where resources are equally distributed, and where all people are treated with respect and valued as who they are. Until an inclusive culture is in place, any progress in overcoming acts of discrimination will be limited.”
She closed her interview with a message for how non-Asian allies can support Asians and Asian Americans facing discrimination and harassment.
“We must stand in solidarity with one another – with the Asian community, with the black community, with the Latino community, with the indigenous community, with the LGBTQIA community, and all other marginalized groups,” said Shen. “When all those who face oppression and our allies stand together, when we fight for one another instead of against each other, when we lift up each other’s struggles rather than tear down and compare our struggles, when we recognize that, as Emma Lazarus said, “until we are all free none of us is free,” we have a chance to make the dream of a better, freer, more just country a reality.”