How to deal with mild racism from clients and partners in the office? (Continued)

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It sounds inappropriate. My suggestion is to seek out advice at your firm from someone you trust. Their perspective can be helpful especially if they have a better sense about how the partner would react to being confronted about this situation. Different people can react differently to being asked to modify their problematic behavior and based on my own assumptions about power dynamics here I think it’s important to tread lightly and be as informed as possible about potential blowback. Next step should be to take it to HR.

Let me just apologize on behalf of the commenters who don’t get why the interactions are inappropriate and racist , whether well intentioned or not. Hopefully enough have commented support to realize you are not alone here. There’s a POC big law bowl if you are interested in joining to discuss whatever you want.

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Quite frankly, you’re a bit out of line.

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Instead of being sensitive why don’t you turn it into a joke where you can also get the point across. As an Arab in a predominantly white firm I’ve said things like “I’d bring you some falafel but since I grew up here I know about as much on how to make it as you do” and then we, would you believe it, laughed together...

And what you’ve described is not even racism in my books. I can’t with this childish hypersensitivity anymore.

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Indeed. Being a minority yourself doesn’t preclude yourself from being part of the issue

Talk to him and tell him that his comments are off-color and might get him into trouble if he were to say them to a different person. Act like you’re doing him a favor by making him aware that his attempts at trying to seem worldly may not be perceived as such. If the problem persists, go to HR.

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I am half Asian. One partner always focuses conversations on my race and often tries to speak to me in Cantonese (which I do not speak, and have told him as much). I feel that he’s trying to impress me with his cultural knowledge, but I find his conduct to be inappropriate. Another partner indicated that I was Asian during a client call, and felt this was relevant because the client ‘once had an Asian girlfriend’. This client now behaves in a similar way to the first partner. How should I deal with this?

First thing: have you told them how you feel about this?

This. ^ I had sort of the same thing about my sexuality with a former boss. I told him up front that his jokes made me feel uncomfortable, and asked him to stop. I can't imagine any other response than an understanding one.

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It isn't an excuse. But how he handes this will define him in that partners eyes, and likely others.

Talk to him, in private, confidently but respectfully. That can only elevate him.

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