First job: beliefs - part 2 (找工)
For a Chinese new in Canada, a very harmful belief is that we Chinese are strongly discriminated against. They just don't like Chinese, many of us think. As a result, we tend to be defensive, nervous and easily hostile when dealing with white people. And these conditions frequently ruin our efforts.
Discrimination is a controversial topic. Before anyone throws me a "brick", I'm in no way saying that there's no discrimination. Instead of talking about discrimination itself, I'm going to offer a few points related to it. Hopefully they'll help at least some people develop a more balanced mind set.
First, a lot of us are too sensitive and see discrimination when there's actually none. A while ago, I read on rolia that an interviewer asked a Chinese candidate if he's Chinese. The poster seems to be offended by this. Many rolians responded with indignation too: report him to their HR department, or tell him the question is inappropriate, or ask him does it matter, and so on. In my opinion, there's no way the question meant any ill. I bet the interviewer used it as a small talk to get the candidate relaxed. If the candidate is at ease, his next question might be "where in China"? Then he might say "hey I was there 2 years ago". Instead of starting the interview on a friendly footing, the discrimination mind set probably pushed the candidate into a defensive and hostile mood which might have ruined the interview.
Second, in my opinion, compared to average Chinese, average white people are fairer, nicer and more reasonable. Years ago, a Taiwanese landlady turned off electricity to my room after I complained about no heat very late in October. She claimed my use of microwave blew the fuse. HA! And I'm convinced that she withheld many of my letters. She's probably not a typical Chinese, but it's easier to imagine a Chinese doing such a thing than a white person.
Over my many years in Canada, I've experienced a lot of kindness from white people. My first job in Canada was a clerk in an office. They hired me because a girl there decided to move away from Toronto. A while later, the girl changed her mind and decided to stay. My boss didn't let me go. Instead, she tried very hard to find me all sorts of work, most of them useless. I realized the situation quite a while later.
When I negotiated my first mortgage, I was literally shaking because I was fresh out of school and it was such a big purchase for me. The old German lady at Bank of Montreal was so nice that I calmed down a lot. After the first 6 month term, she gave me a 0.25% discount without me asking. I didn't know you could bargain on mortgage rates until much later.
Third, we're definitely better off if we believe that most people are good, including most whites and act accordingly. Nobody denies that blacks are discriminated against in the United States. Yet a black man just won the most powerful post there. Could Obama have achieved this had he been too concerned with discrimination and fought the whites every day? Instead, discrimination probably has never been high in his mind and as a result, he hasn't been "discriminated" as much as it could be.
The world is like a mirror: if you smile, it smiles back; if you frown, it frowns at you. A friend once told me that his manager was mad at him. I asked him why. He said he was late for work one day and since then his manager turned cold on him. I asked how did he know. He said now whenever they walk across each other, the manager wouldn't even say hi. I think this is a good example of one's perception affects other people's behavior towards him. The manager stopped saying hi probably because my friend was too nervous after being caught late.
Fourth, race matters a lot less among technical people. If you're really good at what you do, you'll be respected by people of all races. When techincal people talk about technical matters, race often disappears into the background.
Finally, We Chinese in general are a lot more reserved than people of other races, especially in front of non-Chinese. This probably is a cause for misunderstanding and unfriendly behavior. Recently in a hospital elevator, a white woman marveled at a little girl's dress. "What a beautiful dress.", she said. The little girl gave back a big smile. They didn't seem to know each other. I see this kind of behavior often in white people, but rarely in us Chinese. If you're nice to others, most people would be nice to you, including even some of those who normally don't like your race.