Saturday, October 2, 2010

What it's like to be a minority…

It's a hard concept to contemplate. If you live within the United States and your skin is white, its hard to comprehend. Its a rough subject that you can never understand unless you have been unjustly subjected to its wrath. Back home, I never liked checking the 'white box' on job applications or government paper work. Isn't the 'human' race good enough. And personally, I have always found the concept of tracking race in some stupid government survey justification for further racism, discrimination, and an appeal to some political party. I feel that the government keeps problems brewing within the US, only to justify their actions. Continually hold specific groups down, create class wars, only for their aims to stay in power. Call me crazy but that's houw I see it.

A few weeks back I spent some of my free time hanging out with my friend Sara. We went for a bike ride throughout the city I currently reside in. More or less we sat on a park bench… Afterwards she went back to her place while I was to meet up with a few Japanese gals around an hour later. Outside of Sara's place, a farmer was harvesting rice. He was on a small combine. I felt like it was my opportunity to take some video. Inside my left pocket sat my digital camera. I shot video for around fifteen seconds. After that period I felt like packing up and leaving. I checked the traffic on the side of the road. In the distance I saw a police car. Within the pit of my stomach I thought and felt a terrible feeling.

It seemed as though something was going to happen with these. The amount of irrational suspicion probably was running though these police. Actually, it has seemed to infect most everyone with a badge. Someone is filming something and that can be grounds for some silly threat. Don't tourists normally film things they find fascinating or interesting? Don't photographers take pictures of eye popping mater. Never mind that. It's a white guy in the middle of Japan. Let's bust him.

As I pulled up to a stop light and an old police office (in his 50's) came out of the cop car. He asked me in Japanese what country I came from. Since my Japanese isn't too great, I just pulled out my ID instead (something I would NEVER do in the US). If I had a better handle on the Japanese language, I would have badgered him from the moment he opened the car door. I would have asked him 'why does it matter?' (I don't care if I am a guest in this country, there is no reason for authority to act this way). No matter what this dude thinks, he works for me. Even though I am a foreigner, I pay taxes.

At the time, maybe it didn't help that I was wearing a Chinese Commie hat my sister gave me. Regardless, just because my skin is a different color….. It didn't justify his actions. Racial profiling is never justified. EVER.

He walked around my bike, trying to see if it was stolen. In my broken Japanese, I explained to him I purchased it at a recycle facility. It seemed as though he felt like it was 'stolen' when it was honestly purchased. At that time… THANK GOD, his partner, a Japanese man in his late 20's or early 30's appeared. This man knew I was no concern. He spoke something in Japanese, something I didn't understand to the older officer. At that point, the older man began to turn away.

This is when the younger officer apologized to me. More or less, he apologized for wasting my time. He knew I was just some silly foreigner enjoying a bike ride. He knew my bike wasn't stolen. He also didn't harbor any irrational xenophobia from someone who was born on another continent.

Back in the US, there is a lot of that. I have talked with my friends who are either black or hispanic. They know what's up cause nobody really seems to mind the Asians in America. I've heard stories ranging from racist co-workers to being followed through a store to having five cop cars show up to a missing tail light.

Accusations always seem to run wild. Can't anyone think rationally anymore?

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