But Capt. Gaijin told me that his significant other was very upset by his post, and he asked if I was offended, as well. We had the following (edited) converation:
OM: No, of course not. But I understand why some people might get offended.
CG: She’s like “everyone always says I’m not really American because of the way I look, and now you’re saying I’m not Japanese.”
OM: Hmm…. ok, now THAT I can relate to. Really. In fact that is a very interesting comment.
CG: If it makes you feel any better I don’t think your Japanese either.
OM: I don’t think I’m Japanese either. I’ve figured this out specifically because I have studied Japanese and know the Japanese from their perspective and now know that I am not one of them. I look like them, but I am not one of them.
CG: If she knew what Japanese people were really like, then she would take it as a compliment that I think she’s not Japanese. Im sure she wouldn’t mind.
OM: Well, I’m not sure about that… It might be a compliment that she is not like the Japanese in terms of character, but the thing about being “Japanese” vis-a-vis the insults we have been subjected to regarding our status as being less than American makes it a sensitive subject, particularly from the mouth of a white, male .
CG: yeah but I didn’t say anything about her not being American.
OM: I know…. Like I said, she and others may not be secure in who they are. It’s kinda like being in limbo. Do you remember being sorta discriminated against in Japan? maybe not so flagrantly, but little slights against you? maybe being served a little slower than others?
CG: very flagrantly!
OM: ok, well can you imagine that feeling times twenty years? that’s a long time
CG: yeah but I’m not the one doing that to her. I¡¯m saying the opposite!
OM: I know. I’m not saying you are bad. But a lifetime of being called a member of a “separate: race, grouped like that, makes you want to group others and you are a member of a different group.
CG: I wouldn’t care if someone said I’m not Irish or something.
OM: I think that maybe she has suffered more than you can imagine.
OM: there is a difference, so be more understanding. Watching TV or movies; reading books like Rising Sun. They all subject us to racial slights–although not always overtly–in different ways.
OM: I was faced with blatant racism. She may have been subjected to different, perhaps covert kinds of discrimination. It a very complex issue. It is not easy being non-white in the US.
CG: I know what its like. I dealt with it in Japan. Very blatant. They are still a 3rd world country. It’s not like the US. They don’t understand its wrong
OM: Ok, it IS bad in Japan. You know that I agree with you on that, but imagine that feeling for twenty–or in my case almost fifty years…. Can you imagine the indignation, the embarrassment, the anger? Can you imagine putting up with it for that long?
CG: Yeah it sucks. So we should all be the same
OM: I agree.
CG: We are all African.
OM: ¡. Uh, you know I agree with you.