Here I am, waiting in the Immigration Office in Takasaki, Japan. I had a few things to do at home before heading out, which lead to me getting here 30 minutes after it opened…big mistake! My wife specifically told me to get here before it opens so as to be first served… Alas, in my usual morning sluggishness I failed…
As I wait, my ticket says I’m #30, I came to the realization that I am an alien! Another thing I realized while I have been waiting here is that of all the people I’m waiting with I’m the only American.
It’s amazing how many people are here and where they hail from. It also got me thinking about racism. Growing up white in America kept me from seeing racism until it presented itself grotesquely to my black friends. Yet here in Japan I am a minority. I’ve lived here now going past 13 years, and I now understand how deep racism goes. It doesn’t get to the violent levels that it does in the US, but I get the stares, people crossing the street to avoid me, businesses that try to take advantage of me because they think I’m stupid, the stereotyping, police singiling me out, and those “friends” who are so proud to have a “gaijin”/“American” friend. Really the list goes on and on.
I have no doubt racism has worse teeth in the US than it does in Japan, but it’s enough that I know what it feels like, and I have a sense of the fear that goes through anyone who falls under the “minority” category. It’s not fun, and it shouldn’t exist. The funny thing is I would rather suffer through this in Japan than live in the US the way things are now. It’s hard trying to get my friends and family to understand and see what it really going on. I come from Idaho, deeply Red State and most of my family lives in both Idaho and Utah (another predominantly Red State).
I have become political because of this past year’s election. I have discovered what kind of people my friends and family really are. There were a lot of painful realizations as well as some comforting ones. There have been several friends and family who have told me to stop complaining or trying to make a change. I don’t understand this mindset. I do t understand how they can’t see what Trump has been doing to this country, or the true reason NFL players are kneeling, or turning a blind eye to the blatant racism that led to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yes, a lot things have been going through my mind as I sit here. Waiting. At the Immigration Office. I just want people to become aware. Being aware will lead to change. Let us all become aware and change the world.