Chavez wrote: “Just once I’d like to hear someone who has been discriminated against in Japan say, ‘Now I know what it is like to be an African, Iranian or Muslim in the U.S.”

Well, I have heard white, English-speaking (mostly male) Japanese residents say that, and it sounds as dumb when they said it as when Chavez wrote it down.

Have you ever gone aboard an airplane only to have the person in the next seat complain to the crew that he or she did not want to sit next to you? And did the airline respond by booting you off the flight? No? I didn’t think so. Have you ever walked into the wrong neighborhood or business in Japan and been made to fear for your personal safety? No? I didn’t think so.

So, no, I have no real idea what it must be like to be black in America, or Muslim in a Western country, or for that matter a non-Muslim in a Muslim country. And I never will.

This is not to say I don’t have empathy for those who face discrimination due to an accident of birth. But I also know I have no real idea what they go through every day, and to suggest that I, or any other white English-speaker in Japan, does as a result of the trivial or (all too often, sadly) outright imagined slights we must “endure” is an insult to those who have to face real discrimination.

from the japan times online

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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