Hearing “Yo, go back to China!”, especially during the pandemic was sadly not an uncommon experience. When faced with such comments, I wouldn’t just reply with “I’m Japanese American” because it only shifts the direction of prejudice towards other Asians or people of color. Whether I’m from Japan, another country, or even another planet, far, far, away, it should not matter.
This experience made me wonder: why do some people prioritize their own freedom while dictating what others should do? They probably have no idea what it feels like to be stereotyped and blamed for something they have no control over, such as skin color or the shape of their eyes.
It’s scary to think that I could have been on their side. When I was in Japan, I was part of the majority and entitled group. I could have unknowingly made racial comments or been unaware of how it feels to be on the receiving end of such comments.
The truth is, when you’re part of the dominant group, it’s easy to overlook the privilege that comes with being part of that group. We need to be more aware of the impact we have and take responsibility for our actions in any situation. And this is one of “easier said than done,” but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim.