When America received the news — the reminder that some of its darker-hued citizens are in deadly jeopardy when interacting with officers paid to protect them — I was sipping coffee, buttering toast, safe in my quiet hamlet in Yokohama. I decided I would put off scanning any Internet news outlets for a few more minutes.

A day earlier the media had warned that it was coming, this decision, this confirmation of the value placed on a young man's life. I just didn't want to hear it. Not again. Not yet. Not before breakfast, anyway.

I am so very far, in every way imaginable, from the daily reality of a community with a high mortality rate. I can go an entire day and see nothing that poses a threat to me — nothing more provocative than, say, some silly Japanese guy throwing himself between his girlfriend and me in an unnecessary act of . . . whatever, chivalry or something — knowing full well that if I had a son and raised him here, similarly subtle micro-nonsense would likely be the worst strain of dehumanization my boy'd ever experience. He'd probably never be harmed by a cop, or told by the society at large, pointedly or unwittingly, that when his ilk are slain it's likely justified. He'd be slightly scarred by pervasive foolishness, but he'd survive!