True story: I was out and about with a friend in Shinjuku, and we were starving and looking for a place to eat. Well, Murphy’s law must have a sick sense of humour, because just as we’re contemplating giving in and eating at KFC, a random salary man comes marching through the sea of people on the sidewalk towards us, and as he’s barreling by he leans in and yells:
“..Oh my God,” said my friend. “Did he just…”
I kept walking, in shock.
Did that really just happen? Maybe he was speaking Japanese and I didn’t understand.
But as the seconds passed and I kept replaying it in my head, I had to accept the tragic truth: I was a victim of a drive-by (well in this case speed-walk by) hate crime.
In hindsight I think my reaction, or lack thereof, was the best thing I could have done, because to be honest that guy seemed…crazy. Even if I had been able to catch up with him as he whizzed by, he picked me because I was an easy target — I’m smaller than him and running my mouth would have probably gotten me a nice pop in the teeth. I’m sure he would have had no qualms with hitting me. He seemed like a man who’s got nothing left to lose. For all I know this was the last line on his suicidal bucket list and he was headed for an appointment with the next speeding train. And it’s not as if he sees me as a human being, much less a woman. He made it pretty clear that all I am to him is a nigger.
But still, there’s a part of me that wishes I had done something, anything more than well, nothing.
It’s something else how I’m learning that some of the positive stereotypes about Japan aren’t all that true.
“Japan is such a safe country; you don’t have to worry about anything being stolen.”
Uh, no, two friends on three separate occasions have had money stolen from their wallets since I’ve been here, and NOT in Roppongi in case you’re wondering.
“The Japanese aren’t overtly racist, just lacking in PC skills.”
Uh, go back and read the first paragraph of this post.
But, you know, despite that, I still want to live here, because thankfully I’ve met enough pleasant and kind Japanese people to easily cancel out that asshole. And there’s still so much I want to learn and accomplish here. So sorry racist salary man, but you haven’t gotten rid of me. Sure it was a disturbing experience, but sadly it’s not the first time someone’s said that to me, so you lose points for lack of originality.
I’ve got too much to do and see to let him get under my skin. And you know what, honestly, he’s not the real problem. At least there’s no mistaking what’s on his mind. It’s the ones in power, the ones who keep their racism under wraps to avoid a bad public image I worry about.
I guess I’ll take some extra time with the kids in my classes now, to try to keep them from turning into him.