Student: I read your blog about the empty seat on the train. Is it fiction? I can’t believe it.
Me: Can’t believe what?
Student: Is it true?
Me: Well…I guess it does sound incredible. I’ve gotten used to it, though.
Student: You seem tired.
Me: Some days are rougher than others
Student: I really can’t believe it! I’m so sorry…
Me: No, no, don’t be sorry. It’s, uh…well, that’s just the way it is.
Student: I think it’s probably because of the media.
Me: Is it? I don’t watch the news here.
Student: The news always says black people are criminals.
Me: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.
Student: Especially soldiers. Like those soldiers in Okinawa, always doing crime.
Me: Always? What kind of crimes?
Student: Raping girls.
Me: There are a lot of rapes in Okinawa?
Student: Not a lot of rapes. But a lot of news though.
Me: That’s why Japanese people in Yokohama are afraid of me, you think?
Student: Probably. Japanese people believe the news.
Me: Do Japanese men think I’m going to rape them, too?
Student: (LOL) I don’t know…that’s funny.
Me: I guess so…Are Chikan (subway perverts) discussed on the news?
Student: Yes. Many stories about Chikan.
Me: 100% of them are Japanese men. Why aren’t women afraid of Japanese men?
Student: Ee! I don’t know. Never thought about that. Maybe they are.
Me: But they sit next to them and stand next to them…
Student: Yeah, well…
Me: And the media shows good images of black people too, don’t they? Sometimes?
Student: Good images?
Me: Yeah, you know, like…I don’t know, Barack Obama, Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, what’s that Enka singing guy’s name Jello or something? People like that?
Student: Yes. Je-ro…He’s very popular. Stevie Wonder too…and of course Barack Obama…
Me: Then Japanese actually choose to trust the negative images over the positive ones?
Student: Well, I don’t know…seems so.
Me: Yeah, well, anyway, media in America isn’t so great, either.
Student: (looking perplexed) Also, we are homo…homo…
Student: Right! That’s right! Japan is a homogeneous country.
Me: Yep. Japan is homogeneous. I have a question? If we are all homo sapiens, what difference does homogeneous make?
Student: Homo sapien?
Me: Modern day human beings
Me: UnlessJapanese think that human beings are like dogs, with different breeds…like Japanese are Chihuahuas and blacks are pit bulls and whites are poodles, that kind of thing… or maybe they don’t consider other people human beings…onlly Japanese are human.
Student: Ee! Everybody is human, of course.
Me: Do you mean just biologically, or mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well?
Student: All the same.
Me: Then Homogeneous means nothing. We all eat, drink, breathe, fart, rape, steal, kill, lie, cheat…We all, or at least most people love their children, want a good life, work hard and…well, you know what I mean…
Me: If I treated you like a leper would it bother you?
Me: Hmmm….like a diseased person. Someone to be avoided at all cost.
Student: It would bother me…
Me: So it’s safe to assume that if we are both human then it will bother me, too.
Me: So, if Japanese know that what they are doing will bother me they either aren’t aware of what they’re doing, trying to be offensive, or don’t give a damn how I feel. That’s my conclusion. And if they aren’t aware they need to be made aware. And if they’re trying to be offensive then…I really don’t know what to say to that. And if they don’t care about my feelings at all then,well….
Student: I understand. I can imagine how it must feel.
Me: Sorry, I don’t like to say such things but that’s what was on my mind.
Student: I think most of Japanese don’t know what they do.
Student: I don’t know. I think so. We are…We’re not…
Me:…used to foreigners?
Student: Yes, that’s right.
Me: Are you used to foreigners?
Students: A little.
Me: Would you sit next to a foreigner on the train?
Student: Of course.
Me: So if you can do it, then it can be done.
Student: Yes, but most people are not like me…
Me: This is true. You are rare in Japan. You work for a foreign company and use English everyday…
Student: Sou desu ne
Me: Ok…well, syouganai ne. (nothing can be done about it) Let’s start the lesson.