Today I moderated an interview Sin Chew Jit Poh conducted with the Head of Commercial Product Management, whose team was present as well, the biggest group of Chinese people I’ve been around on this job. As everyone was getting settled in for the interview, the Head leaned towards me and…
Amy: It’s OK; you look Chinese, so you’ll fit in.
Me: I’m sorry?
Amy: (thinking I couldn’t hear her) You look Chinese, so you’ll fit in!
Me: (pause) Amy, I am Chinese.
Amy: Oh, you’re Chinese — wait, YOU’RE CHINESE?
Alwin (who now knows better): She speaks three dialects and plays mahjong.
Amy: Oh, I always thought you were Malay. I stereotype too much; I’m sorry!
Me: (managing a small grin) It’s OK; you’re not the only one.
The ironic thing is that prior to this, everyone who’s ever gotten my race confused would think I was Malay, East Malaysian or mixed, because to them I looked like one of those. And here was a woman thinking I’m a Malay who just looks like a Chinese.