One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 1 / Microaggression or Unconscious Racism in Japan

Days 1516 - 1522
Sunday, May 13 - Saturday, May 19, 2012  

Day 1516 ( Mistaken Order / 49 million yen Ring Stolen )
Sunday, May 13, 2012

Went to church today. The first time since I came back from Malaysia on April 9.

Today I ordered a paella (A Spanish dish with fried rice, beef and some other good stuff). I intended to order a small sized one based on what I saw on the flyer. However, beside the small size one on the flyer, there is an "M". So I told the person on the phone that I wanted a "M-size". Only to realize when the delivery dude came, he said my bill was over 3000 yen (3 times the price I budgeted for). And the Paella box was 4 times the size I thought I ordered. I was about to protest, but I really like this paella thing so I paid the over 3000 yen and enjoyed a big paella.


¥49 million ring stolen from store

Police are hunting two men suspected of stealing a diamond ring worth ¥49 million from a jewelry store in Nagoya. 

The police said  that the two men allegedly stole the ring from a De Beers jewelry store at the Matsuzakaya department store after asking a female worker to show them the ring among other items shortly before closing time at 8 p.m.
The store determined that the ring, which was the most expensive item in stock, was missing from the box only after the two had left, police said, adding security camera footage showed one of the two men reaching out for the box on a table as they sat opposite the staffer.



Day 1517 ( Article Critique - Microaggression or Unconscious Racism in Japan )
Monday, May 14, 2012

This an interesting article I read recently. Both my fellow blogger friends Kelroy and Baye aka Loco shared this article. I will tell you what I think afterwards.

Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday 'microaggressions' that grind us down

Have you ever noticed how many interpersonal interactions in Japan are like "speed dates" of set questions?
For example, the taxi drivers who have the odd fascination about where you're from, whether you're married, how much you like Japan, and how hard you think the Japanese language is?
The barkeeps and clientele who try to slot you into their hackneyed preconceptions of some country and nationality, what you can and cannot eat, and (as things get drunker) how much you enjoy having physical liaisons with Japanese?

In the beginning, these were dismissible as just acts of awkward friendliness by people who didn't know how else to approach you. It at least made you really good in certain areas of Japanese conversation.
But after years of repeat games, boredom sets in, and you begin to realize two things: 1) that you can sleepwalk through most conversations, and 2) that, if you stay awake, you see there is a larger issue at play here: social control — something increasingly recognized by social psychologists as "microaggressions."

Microagressions, particularly those of a racialized nature, are, according to Dr. Derald Wing Sue in Psychology Today (Oct. 5, 2010), "the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to (visible minorities) by well-intentioned (members of an ethnic majority in a society) who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated."
They include, in Japan's case, verbal cues (such as "You speak such good Japanese!" — after saying only a sentence or two — or "How long will you be in Japan?" regardless of whether a non-Japanese (NJ) might have lived the preponderance of their life here), nonverbal cues (people espying NJ and clutching their purse more tightly, or leaving the only empty train seat next to them), or environmental cues.

Usually these are unconscious acts grounded in established discourses of interactions. Nobody "means" to make you feel alienated, different, out of place, or stereotyped.
It's a powerful analytical tool. Now we have a word to describe why it gets discomfiting when people keep asking if you can use chopsticks (the assumption being that manual dexterity is linked to phenotype), or if you can eatnattō (same with taste buds), or if you'll be going "home" soon (meaning Japan is just a temporary stop in your life and you don't belong here).

Now let's consider microaggression's effects. Dr. Sue's research suggests that subtle "microinsults and microinvalidations are potentially more harmful (than overt, conscious acts of racism) because of their invisibility, which puts (visible minorities) in a psychological bind."
For example, indicate that you dislike being treated this way and the aggressor will be confused; after all, the latter meant no harm, so therefore the NJ must just be overly "sensitive" — and therefore also "troublesome" to deal with. Resistance is not futile; it is in fact counterproductive.
Yet do nothing and research suggests that "aggressees" become psychologically drained over time by having to constantly question the validity of their position and devote energy to dealing with this normalized (and after a while, predictable) "othering" that nobody else (except — shudder — the alienated NJ barflies) seems to understand.
Therein lies the rub: Microaggressions have such power because they are invisible, the result of hegemonic social shorthand that sees people only at face value. But your being unable to protest them without coming off as paranoid means that the aggressor will never see that what they say might be taken as prejudiced or discriminatory.

The article is a little longer but you can get the point. I definitely agree that some of these recurring questions and comments from Japanese are extremely annoying. Especially these 2:

1) Your Japanese is good.

2) You use chop sticks very well

I hear this almost every single time I meet a new Japanese. And it is annoying multiplied by 20. That 20 goes up the longer you live in Japan. As recent as 3 days ago a lady at the YMCA said this chop stick thing to me. What ?? are my hands handicapped? I didn't say it but I surely was on edge to just say something that would surely offend her. But to be polite I said "Any foreigner who has been living in Japan for over 1 year, it is quite normal to use a chop stick". IT.. IS... NOT... DIFFICULT!!!

Ok so yes, Japan does have a lot of racist undertones and overtones. But is there a country in the world that is racism free? I think there is some form of racism in every single country on earth. If you are a minority in any country, there is a very strong possibility that you will face some form of racism. Some countries worse than others. The exception might be if a country was conquered in some way or another, and the minorities are the ones controlling the country. This minority may not experience so much racism. Possible revenge but not necessarily racism.

I personally believe that many Caucasians have never experienced racism towards them. But Japan!!! as much as they tend to have a general preference for Asians and Caucasians, they still do act a little funny around ANY foreigner. So I think when a Caucasian comes to Japan and experience some form of racism, its a big shock to most of them. Well actually a shock to any of us who are not generally used to being in the minority.

As humans, if something doesn't bother us directly, its not a problem. In other words if we are in the majority and racism is happening all around us, we are less likely to complain about it. But as soon as we find ourselves being affected directly, that's when we complain. Which is a normal human reaction I think.

The problem is that, in Japan, if you are being discriminated against, there is absolutely no one to turn to. The police won't help. The government doesn't care so, all foreigners here have to fend for ourselves.



Day 1518 ( Toshiba Stops Making TV in Japan )
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Work started at 10:30 am for me this morning. I wish all my classes started at that time. When I got home, I played a bit of God of War.


Ending an era, Toshiba pulls the plug on making televisions in Japan

Toshiba Corp. has terminated domestic production of televisions while continuing manufacturing overseas as part of its efforts to restructure its loss-making TV business, company officials said Thursday.

The producer of Regza-brand TV sets has stopped operations at its sole domestic TV manufacturing plant in Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture, the officials said.
The company incurred a loss of about ¥50 billion in the TV business in the business year that ended in March as sales were hammered by a plunge in demand in Japan after the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting was completed last year.



Day 1519 ( I like Dave Sensei )
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I did an exercise in class where students are to create 4 name cards and draw something that they liked on it. They should then say their names and whatever it is they liked, whether it be soccer, pineapple, chicken, movies or whatever it is that they liked. They should then walk around in the class and exchange their cards with each other. A little girl came to me and said she liked me, and drew a picture of me on it... Awwww...

In the evening I had my adult student and we basically spoke about my last job in Jamaica.



Day 1520 ( Small Research )
Thursday, May 17, 2012

This coming Saturday and Sunday is the annual One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo. A Jamaican guy on the organizing committee asked me if I could prepare a dub poem and a patois (Jamaican Dialect) lesson. In addition to do some research on the history of Jamaican music. I used today to prepare most of that after work. Well he did warn me that the area where I should do the poem and the patois lesson wasn't really organized well so pretty much anything is possible. Meaning I may do it or may not. There is no set schedule or anything, just sort of go with the flow kind of thing. So I prepared though just in case. I will share those patois words in a future blog post.



Day 1521 ( 73 Year Old Lady Climb Mount Everest )
Friday, May 18, 2012

Usual  day at work. After work, did a little further research for the one love festival thing.


Japanese woman, 73, again oldest atop Everest

A Japanese woman stunned the mountaineering world by successfully climbing the world's tallest mountain at the age of 73, setting a formidable record that could stay unchallenged for decades.

Tamae Watanabe launched her final assault on the treacherous upper slopes of Mount Everest from an altitude of 8,300 meters Friday night, reaching the top of the 8,848-meter peak eventually.



Day 1522 ( One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 1 )
Saturday, May 19, 2012

I had to wake up early again this morning. Again something I detest doing on a Saturday morning, but hey I got bills to pay...So I went to the YMCA from 10:30 am - 4:20 pm. All the classes went well again except for the kids group (2 and 3 year olds). 2 kids were absent but the other 2 that were present, are actually the 2 trouble making ones. One kept running all over the place, the other kept crying for his mom. How do I teach??? It almost feels like taking care of kids for pay. Only its 50 mins. Too long actually. But I guess I need to learn for when I am ready to have my own.

After my class ended, I rushed to Tokyo to get to the One Love Jamaica Festival. I saw some friends who went to the Spring Ting camp

as well as met some other Jamaicans that I didn't know before. Some of them I have on facebook for like 2-3 years and finally met them in person. I got there a bit late but it was still fun, and worth the sacrifice.  

My friend baked these Jamaican Cookies