The Bamboo Ceiling

5203037712_0949f8ce20_b-780x450So this link came across one of my newsfeeds today. Yea, it’s an American context, about American-Asian kids going to American colleges. However, it’s not the first we’ve heard of such a thing, here in Aotearoa anyway. There was this gem from 2010 in our very own Herald.

Why does this bother me? Well i’m a “kiwi Asian” (or a ‘banana’) and migrated to Aotearoa when I was 8. I like to think i’m as kiwi as I can get. I eat marmite and chip rolls, (and for the record, it is definitely marmite over vegemite, like why would you even?!) I wear togs and not bathers or swimsuits, and while I haven’t bungy jumped, I have stood on the edge and pushed my mate off.

But, at the tender age of 9 or 10, I shrugged off my chinese name to embrace Vivian, simply because it was easier for my primary school mates to pronounce. It became all too hard to constantly explain how to pronounce a name that didn’t look kiwi.

I stood with my kiwi friends indignantly when the lovable Paul Henry said that Sir Anand Satyanand didn’t look ‘kiwi’ enough, although admittedly, I think I felt the sting a tad more than my pakeha friends.

Where am I going with all this?

Well, perhaps the solution to all of this is to be completely anonymous in college applications and job applications? You get allocated a number, all your skills and qualifications are listed as they are, your name, your gender, your hobbies are all hidden until you are shortlisted. Potential employers could even use tools like Weirdly to ascertain organisational fit without ever knowing your race, your gender or your age. Basically, demographic details are unimportant to jobs or university applications, so why muddy the waters with them?

Agree with me? Comment below

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One thought on “The Bamboo Ceiling

  1. Vivian, I’m sorry that you’re experiencing the same stuff as I do. Getting barbs about your accent, presumed behaviour because of certain prejudices connected to a person’s ethnicity… all things I avoid in the US and UK and didn’t expect to find in NZ, but yes, they’re here.

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