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Rachel Luna/Getty Images SuChin Pak
Former MTV News correspondent SuChin Pak is opening up about a racist and misogynistic incident she says she endured while working at the network.
Pak, who left MTV in 2008, shared a lengthy post on her Instagram page Thursday detailing how a man she identified as a "white male executive" used racist language while talking about her to a room full of other colleagues.
"Years ago, when I was a news correspondent at MTV, I overheard a colleague of mine, while watching me do the news that evening, tell a room full of people that I looked like a 'me sucky sucky love you long time' whore," Pak, 44, began in her post, referencing a line that appears in Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket during a scene showing a Vietnamese prostitute approaching a U.S. soldier.
A rep for MTV did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Pak, who was born in South Korea and moved to California at the age of 5, said she didn't say anything at the moment because she was afraid "to cause a fuss or be seen as difficult or too 'sensitive.'"
"I woke up the next day though and it hit me that he said it in a room full of people, mostly women, who somehow now think subconsciously or consciously that this kind of [misogynistic], violent, racist language could be overlooked and dismissed and that worse, that someone like me would just swallow it and shrink into the small space that I was allowed to occupy," the TV personality continued.
She said she fought to have the person "removed" and stopped going into work.
"The executives tried to mediate to reconcile but I refused," Pak wrote. "It dragged on for months. I did not do this because I had an agenda or even courage, I just had this sinking feeling in my gut that I had to do this. It's the kind of sinking feeling though that doesn't give you strength, or bravery, it was the kind that kept me in bed for a month, crying, scared and uncertain about everything."
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Even before the incident in Atlanta on Tuesday, hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community had been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report released by Stop AAPI Hate revealed that there have been at least 3,795 hate incidents targeting the AAPI community from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. More than 500 of those incidences occurred in 2021.
Pak referenced the violence against the AAPI community in her post, writing, "In this moment, as many of you are shaking with fear, uncertainty and anger, feeling like you don't have any power to do anything, know that in the midst of feeling small and invisible, you have a deep sense of dignity, of self worth and holding on to that in the darkest of places is enough."
She detailed how she hired a lawyer to help her navigate her situation at MTV, noting that her ability to do so was a "luxury" that many others do not have.
"One last attempt was made at 'reconciliation' as if that was even appropriate," she explained. "Let me rephrase that, with what I know now — one last attempt was made to ask me to swallow my dignity, my identity, my rage to make a white man feel like he was still ok, loved and respected. A letter written by the man was handed to me as a final gesture, to bring me to submission."
"I was reminded once again, by the white male executive, that someone's livelihood was on the line, that I was somehow responsible for that," Pak continued. "I walked out, never touched or opened that letter."
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At the end of her post, she shared that she carries the memory of the racist incident with her to remind herself "that my dignity is something that can never be bargained with, isn't something for me to put away so someone else can feel comfortable."
"And one more thing I know now something that I didn't quite understand then, Asians have been the butt of jokes, but these jokes are not to be dealt with lightly," Pak concluded. "These jokes are just the timid veneer that hide violence, hate, [misogyny], racism and white supremacy. Our grandparents, our elders, our brothers and sisters are being spit on, punched, shot, attacked and murdered while these 'jokes' are being spit in our faces. Be angry. Be f------ enraged. And then do something to repair this damage. Read, donate, volunteer, share and hold one another as we find our way through this pain."
To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.