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Celebrating the Asian Experience at DataGrail

Kyle Schryver June 9, 2021

To wrap up Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month, DataGrail invited it’s employees to join six hosts for a fireside chat about the Asian experience.

AAPI Experiences of DataGrail Employees

In the virtual session, team members from the AAPI community shared their experiences growing up and living as an Asian member of the community. From hardships to successes and shame to embracing culture, our team learned a lot about the different backgrounds of our peers. After a challenging year for many, it was illuminating to hear how different people across a wide range of Asian backgrounds dealt with difficult times and found ways to help others in their community. 

Who We Are

Across the six employees who shared their backgrounds, each had a unique story to tell, yet there were many commonalities across the board. Jon, our VP of Engineering, spoke about what it was like growing up in a small town in Michigan, and how his upbringing impacted the culture he associated with and the stereotypes he experienced. Valerie, a software engineer, shared how stark the difference was growing up in the San Jose area, which had a large Asian population, versus going to college in Southern California, where racism and stereotypes first surfaced for her. Jay, one of DataGrail’s engineers, detailed how different areas of India have distinct cultures, food, religions, and languages. Jay also shared how in the US we are mainly exposed to food from only one region in Northern India, Punjab.

Asian Stereotypes

When asked about perpetuating stereotypes of the Asian community, commonalities quickly arose between our team members. Being good at math, good at computers, knowing martial arts, and having everyone expect you to know an Asian language were all common stereotypes experienced by our panelists. Whether it was memories from childhood or stereotypes experienced in the present day, it’s clear that Asian stereotypes are prevalent in society and impact how Asians are treated and portrayed. Tiffany brought up how “Crazy Rich Asians” was a groundbreaking movie in that it was one of the first movies with an all-Asian cast that portrayed the Asian experience in a different light, glamorous and fun, without leaning on kung-fu and other stereotypes. This conversation helped illuminate the wide range of Asian stereotypes perpetuated in society and how we can all become more conscious of our own biases and perceptions.

From Shame to Pride of Asian Culture

A few of our team members shared their journey and the pressures of assimilating to Western culture. For example, Jay shared how as an only child, he often felt compelled to hide his Gujarati background in order to fit in. Matt also shared his embarrassment of the fragrant and unusual smells of his family’s cooking when his friends were over. Lisa also experienced the tension between her Chinese identity and Canadian identity, having had to travel back and forth frequently between the two countries growing up.  However, in each story, we learned how they grew to embrace their cultures and recognized the importance of sharing it with others. Jay now supports traditional Gujarati events in the Bay Area, Matt mentioned how he loves to introduce his friends to Vietnamese food and Lisa enjoys practicing Mandarin with those trying to learn the language!

Challenges of Racism in 2021 and Beyond

Many factors including the current pandemic and tensions with foreign countries have brewed some hatred within communities both in the US and abroad. Each of our team members recognized the pain and violence that the Asian community faced within the past few months and spoke to how they dealt with it and the concerns they had for each other and their families. Unfortunately, the hosts also shared that while attention has been brought to recent events due to extreme violence and outspoken hatred, racism and unjust acts against the AAPI community have been present long before it was covered. 

Why Diversity Matters at DataGrail

DataGrail continues to support employees from all walks of life and looks forward to hosting more fireside chats featuring the different experiences of the members of our community, including an upcoming fireside chat celebrating Pride month! While it has been a tough year, we are grateful to have had the support of our DG community. 

A few months ago, Daniel Barber shared why diversity is not only important to DataGrail as a value but why it is helping us grow and succeed. DataGrail continues to embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment to best enable our team members and allow people of all walks of life to thrive in their position.