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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kong Phok, December 19, 2000. Interview K-0273. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Earning a promotion despite discrimination

Phok recalls how his superiors at Guilford Mills tried to exploit his limited understanding of English to reduce his break time. But he understood the company policies, and soon earned a promotion.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kong Phok, December 19, 2000. Interview K-0273. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA LAU:
And have you had any experiences [with] discrimination in jobs or in the mills that you've worked in because you're Asian?
KONG PHOK:
Yes, I have. I have that experience. I overcome that experience, you know, what happened.
BARBARA LAU:
Can you tell me what happened?
KONG PHOK:
Well, when I first started, I mean, like I say, you know, you get pick on. And you get to say, you know, Asian, they think Asian or whatever is dumb. And they can use you and stuff that. That's why when I was worker, I have that, but I never let them overrule me like that, because I know the policy of the thing. I speak English, and I know what's going on. I probably know more than they do what's going on. I know how the attendance is sometime. They'll tell me, hey, you take much too long bringing that. I said wellߞ [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
BARBARA LAU:
You were just telling me about experiencing a little bit of discrimination when you were at your job.
KONG PHOK:
Yes.
BARBARA LAU:
What that was like? What happened and how did you dealt with it?
KONG PHOK:
Okay. About the break time and stuff, about the policy of the company and stuff. They think I don't know the policy of the company, which I know the policy of the company. They will try to trick me. Hey, you need to go back before I tell the supervisor, this and that. As I move up, I got promoted. That's why I told myself I would treat everybody fair, no matter [what]. That's the reason why I want to get a supervisor position, not because I stick up for my own people or for the international people. I would try to treat everybody fair. In order for me to do that is to become somebody, you know, become a supervisor or something, to be in charge.