This week I had the privilege of interviewing Lisa Chu, the owner of Black n Bianco, a children’s apparel company.
Tell me about your business, and what kind of work you do.
I run a kids apparel business. My brand, Black n Bianco, specializes in formal wear clothing for kids.
What unique challenges have you experienced as an Asian-American in business?
A lot of companies would not take me seriously, especially the smaller-sized businesses. I have been underestimated my entire life but entering the male business dominated world was very difficult. I had trouble even getting people to return my call. A lot of company reps would view me as a foreigner which made developing relationships very difficult and sometimes even very awkward.
Have you experienced a noticeable difference in discrimination since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The short answer is yes. Despite wearing masks everywhere I go people in general have been more hostile to me and my kids. We are Americans but the majority of people still view me and my family as foreigners.
How do you cope with discrimination, and what might you suggest to other Asian-American professionals who might be facing the same discrimination?
I cope with discimination by understanding that most of these people who dislike us are just uneducated about the facts. I try to not take it personal, and throughout the years of facing adversity and hardships in my business I learned to develop a thick skin. I learned to never allow someone’s ignorance to make me upset, I am in control of my emotions. I learned to accept and love who I am.
What are some of the key factors in overcoming acts of discrimination?
I believe one of the key factors to overcoming discrimination is information. There is a lot of misinformation out on the internet which is causing a lot of people to be angry at the Asian American communities. Having more educated conversations with these communities and people will help stop the acts of discrimination. Having a strong community will also help locally, but if we want to change the entire country it will have to be done through education and real facts to dispel all this hate.
What can non-Asian Americans do to support their Asian American friends and colleagues who are facing discrimination in the workplace or on the street?
The best thing to do is speak up when you see discrimination or hate. For decades, Asians have been portrayed as the stereotypical comedic relief with a heavy thick accent. Our whole culture and race were viewed as a joke. No one took us seriously especially because of the way mainstream media portrayed our race. Back in the 80s, it was not uncommon for people to make a “Me love you long time” joke and no one would bat an eye. No one would say anything, but everyone would laugh. It was viewed as “acceptable” behaviour. To help stop Asian American discrimination, we need everyone to help stop this sort of behaviour. We need to stop the hate and spread acceptance because that is the only way we will unite as a country.
To follow Lisa’s journey, connect with her on Instagram.
Amine Rahal, Tech Entrepreneur & Author. CEO of IronMonk and CMO at Regal Assets. Passionate about entrepreneurship, philanthropy, digital marketing, blockchain, health & fitness. at IronMonk & Regal Assets
Passion-driven entrepreneur and contributor on several publications. Enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, health, tech, nonprofits, marketing and philanthropy. Currently the CEO of IronMonk Solutions and CMO at Regal Assets.