When I was eight years old, my family and I immigrated from Haiti to New Jersey. Most people couldn’t pronounce my name, so I chose to go by Jenny. But dropping my full first name was just the beginning of feeling “othered” in America. Back in Haiti, I had no knowledge or first-hand experience of racism. Here, there was a lot of stigma against Haitians. It was the late ’80s, and the media perpetuated many negative stereotypes, linking Haiti to destitution and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I tried to distance myself from all this and told other kids that I was from Florida. However, the truth remained that I wasn’t American. I was learning English and I struggled with words like “jewelry,” “rural,” “oil,” and “you’re welcome.” The “r,” “l,” and “w” sounds were particularly challenging for me as a Haitian Creole and French speaker. But as I grew up, I wanted to fit in, and I assimilated so hard that I eventually lost my ability to speak French. Now, I think and dream in English. I hid that aspect of identity for so long, that I lost it. In hindsight, I regret this loss very much.

Jenny Francois standing in front of wall showing Samsung Bespoke appliances

I realize now that many other first and second-generation immigrants have also faced immense pressure to conform to the American way of life, causing them to abandon parts of their culture and language – even today. Looking back, I’d tell my younger self to embrace vulnerability and seek advice from varying sources, even if it is unpleasant. While certain obstacles exist, I’m more certain in my capabilities and contributions.

As someone who identifies as queer, I face added challenges within my cultural community. The constant pressure to “come out” reinforces heterosexuality as the norm. As a woman of color, being queer, Black, and female compounds these issues, as these intersectional identities are often marginalized.

I’ve been at Samsung for nine years, and it’s been great to see the company becoming more diverse and committed to inclusion. I’ve been active in our Employee Resource Groups and Affinity Groups, particularly, the Galaxy of Black Professionals and PRIDE. By participating in open forums, I’ve found a space to have honest conversations with my coworkers, built a sense of community, belonging and understanding. People here know me through my work, and as a member of our ERG’s leadership team who’s passionate about intersectionality, but they also know who I am as a human being. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

About “Humans of Samsung”

Inspired by Humans of New York, our blog series features intimate stories from Samsung employees sharing their triumphs over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) challenges, immigration experiences, coming out journeys, cultural celebrations, and accomplishments in the face of abilities-driven obstacles. Join us as we shine a spotlight on the impressive individuals shaping Samsung’s inclusive culture, showcasing their resilience, and celebrating the strength that diversity and inclusion bring to both personal and professional journeys.