So here I was working at the 7/11 near my home. For the most part it is actually very mundane work. Though you really get to see a full range of people as they come in and out of the store. Yet today while I was at work I ran into that ugly dog of racism that pokes its head out here and there in Japan.
I left the USA more than 16 years ago and living in Japan I have run into racism a few times. Though mainly from other foreigners who bring it with them from where ever they come from. I have had bosses that are racists and I have dropped friends that turned out to be racists. It is funny to think back on how I ever could have missed that the friends I let go were racists.
Back to the 7/11, I was restocking the shelves when a man walked into the store. He walked past everyone in the store and headed straight for the alcohol section. After a few minutes he was waiting at the register. As the other staff member was stocking the drinks I headed to the register and proceeded to ring up his things. Well I did not get far before his racist bigotry sprung to life.
I had just rung up the alcohol and asked him in a polite fashion to please press the button confirming that his is of legal age to buy alcohol. And that is where he let me have it. What I do not know as he barely made sense. The only word that made sense was that every fifth or so word into his speaking he would ask to see the manager. And claiming that he had worked out a deal with the manager. Though there was no deal and he was just being a racists bigot trying to see how far he could push it. I asked him to calm down and was shocked when he started waving his finger at me and asking for us to call the police.
I told him in front of the manager that what he was doing was a form of harassment and that I would call the police. With that he quickly changed his tune. He stopped addressing me and quickly worked with the other staff, the other staff is actually a part time college student. And within a few minutes he was out the door.
And with that I thought it was the end. But a few seconds later he walked back into the store and threw some racists names in my direction and asked the college student that people like me should not be working behind the register.
The saving grace was that I was not alone and that other costumers were there. And here is where the story takes a positive spin. The other costumers that were there came to me afterwards and told me not to worry as people like that racist man must be ignored. Just ignore their bigotry and let them leave as soon as possible.
So I asked myself the question, are Japanese people just waiting for bigotry and racism to fade away? By not confronting it are they allowing it to die a slow quiet death or are they allowing it to fester? I know that there are certain places in Japan that Japanese people will not live as coming from those neighborhoods and or towns actually starts your life out with a black mark and can prevent you from attending certain universities and even being able to work at certain companies.
Because those places were places where the lower class people lived during feudal Japan.
But I love Japan and I hope that racism does fade away quickly. I do know that the best way for us to stop racism is through education and communication. Just like those costumers that came to me afterwards. They have been coming to the store for a long time and talk with me daily. We communicate, we have made those connections and through that we have made a strong bond.
And those strong bonds will allow us to push back the hate, and bigotry. We must be strong together and stand united against hate and bigotry.