Monday, October 19, 2009

I Agree.....

Here is something new from Debito Arudou about the new McDonald's campaign that I have completely missed out on. Especially considering I am trying to drop 15 pounds for a grappling competition. The part the Debito gets absolutely right is the part about speaking to Japanese people being harder than speaking Japanese. Case in point. A week or so ago, I caught the last train home after kick-boxing. It was late and I was tired and carrying a big gym bag. As I got up to leave the train - I live at the last station- my phone fell out of my pocket. The train employees began running through the train waking up the drunks and telling everyone to get off. I said, in Japanese, "Wait! My phone just fell out of my pocket. It is in that seat." The man looked at me as if I were a dog trying to bark and kept motioning for me to get off the train. I repeated myself several times and then stepped out of the train, bewildered and checking my bag for my phone. I kept saying, "My phone is in that seat!" I guess I should explain that when a train reaches the end of the line they flip all of the seats over so they will be facing the right way going backwards. Even as I am insisting my phone is in the seat, they slam it down the other way. A man in a mask came and shoved my broken phone in my face without saying anything. Not only was it unfortunate and made me angry, it hurt my feelings-which sounds ridiculous- but it did. I wasn't drunk and I was speaking completely coherently to people who were conditioned not to listen. I think most Japanese people I know, especially my girlfriend, think of me as a complainer about all things Japanese. But as I often say, because I believe it, complaining is the first step to democracy.

So much shit gets shitted out of the Japanese media about whatever some moron's idea of being
foreign is, and we, at the street level have to act as the filter. I have taught at 8 junior high schools and a 22 year-old student teacher the other day asks me if I can use chopsticks. The kid who can't remember your name now because you aren't Japanese will be the adult who doesn't give someone a loan or housing. It's a problem.

As usual, the disagreements with Mr. Arudo were numerous.

1 comment:

Caitlin said...

Two things really stuck out at me while reading both your post and the article/subsequent comments. Firstly, one commenter suggested that if Arduro did not like the way he way being treated in Japan, he should move back home. I recall that the same argument was proposed to blacks in the US. And although the situation is different, it seems deficient to suggest that the only way to combat such behavior is to remove one's self from the situation. Secondly (and I'm almost positive that David will have something to say on the subject) I have experienced on numerous occasions being treated like a stupid foreigner. I can't count the number of times that I hear gringo directed at me in a week. Even though I am in my native country, when I spend time in the "hispanic community", which is frequently due to dance or the salsa club, I am treated as if I can't function in that world without being babied. I get the whole "oh look at the white girl how cute is it that she is trying our dance?" When in actuality it is something I invest serious time into and am as good or better as the average latino without training. But a lot of people don't accept that or they treat me like I need a handicap in "their sport". Even when I am recognized for my ability it is in the form of a back handed compliment. As in "oh she is very good for a white girl" or "I am surprised that you were able to do so well". And if I ask why most people don't hesitate to tell me that gringos can't dance, or gringos can't understand spanish the right way. And what that translates to is constantly being told that as a gringo people do not believe I can hold my own in "their world". It's frustrating that something as simple as dance can result in such a deep emotional reaction.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.