Earlier this month, I met with a group of 16 American students visiting Japan through the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission’s Summer Institute. The students, who were all in their early 20s, are interested in Japan, and they wanted to hear my thoughts on what life is like here for people of African descent.

I decided to share with them an experience I’d had the morning before, but truth be told it’s an experience that I’ve had many mornings before.

I left my house for work at 6:30 a.m. and, 15 minutes later, I was in line for the morning train. I stood behind a gentleman who, upon noticing me standing behind him, patted his back pockets and turned his body so that he could keep a wary side-eye on me without, I guess, having to constantly glance over his shoulder. When we boarded the train, he scurried away to the other end of the car.