A woman by the name of MK Menon wrote a story in the Huffington Post about how she was asked about terrorism when she applied for a job as a scientist in the San Francisco area
Menon was adopted from an Indian orphanage when she was a baby and not sure of her ethnicity or true background. She does have brown skin and dark hair, so on the day of her interview she was excited to see someone who looked similar.
“Dressed in a crisp ironed suit for an interview, I nervously set up my computer for my presentation portion,” wrote Menon. “This audience of peers came armed with notepads to learn something about multiple myeloma, but more important, to assess me as a scientist. It was refreshing to see a handful of women, and I noticed one who was darker skinned. We were the darkest people in the room.”
Menon then began her presentation and pulled up a map to show all of the different countries she’d traveled to, earned her Master’s degree and worked in as a scientist. But out of nowhere, a “middle aged white man” asked her something that most would presumably find incredibly offensive.
“Did you travel through Afghanistan?” he asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Well, your arrow goes over Afghanistan,” he shot back.
In her article, Menon explained the arrows weren’t supposed to show an exact flight route but before she could say that in the presentation, the man made another offensive remark.
“You know that’s where terrorists come from,” he said of Afghanistan.
Menon then asked if he wanted her to continue and he said “Yes but you know we do background checks.”
“I’m aware,” she shot back and completed her presentation.
Menon said she was shocked. She also noticed one person in the room rolled their eyes, another’s jaw dropped but no one said anything or came to her defense.
That’s because she later found out the man making those comments was the boss and no one wanted to challenge him.
Months after that interview, Menon said she received an apology from the man but because the company’s human resources manager was present that day, it sounded insincere.
“I’m really sorry about what happened, but I was just doing a parody of Trump,” the boss said. “I do believe in diversity. Just look at the company I helped build.”
But Menon explained that she didn’t consider a company who had mostly white and Asian employees diverse, and in the article she blasted the boss for the blanket assumptions he made.
“Subtle discrimination is sneaky. It’s dangerous, it’s confusing and it’s often accepted,” she wrote. “Corporate America tolerates it, particularly when a punishment could affect the bottom line, as it would have in my case. I was the peon candidate going up against the most senior executive at that site. Even his direct reports kept mum … I still get chills every time I see an ad for that company’s genetic testing kits.”