This is not a gloom and doom post. I am just reflecting on the reality of being a minority among a minority group here in Japan.
My life here is satisfying. There are good times, challenging times and everything in between. This is life. It is easy to see my life through the snapshots of my travels on this blog and think it is all glamorous all the time. There is some glamour, some mundane times, much routine sprinkled with some excitement.
Why I am a Minority of a Minority in Japan
Japan is a homogenous country. Foreigners are a small minority of the about 126 million people here. Many foreigners are actually Asians who can pass for Japanese at a glance. I am a woman. I am of a deep, dark and velvet smooth complexion. (Yes, I actually think of my skin like this.) I have curves and kinky/curly hair that I like to wear out in all its glory. There are not many people who look like me here. That’s ok.
I am from Jamaica and there are a few of us here spread out all over the country. I meet many people who tell me that I am the first Jamaican they are meeting – ever. Some ask where in Africa Jamaica is because you know…stereotypes and such. So, I am something of an ambassador, which is quite the honour to have.
I teach English but not ESL. I teach English Language and Literature in the IB Programme of a school here. This puts me in a minority position as well. Those of us who are trained and experienced teachers, from our own countries, are in the minority of foreign teachers in Japan. Yes, I interface with parents and the whole shebang.
I am a committed Christian who serves in my local church and does life with people there. It is a major part of my life here which enriches me. My beliefs enable me to “count it all joy” even if it is after feeling down.
How I Feel as a Minority of a Minority
Well, this depends on the time, place and any number of factors don’t it? Actually, I am pretty easy going most of time. I am good at ignoring the negatives, laughing through some things and putting down my foot when needed. I am all about living a balanced life. My grandmother told me as a young girl never to allow anyone to push me off my space on the earth. I embody this.
I stand out because I am different. This is ok with me.
It is not ok for people to stare at me unending, scorn me or mock me. I am flesh and blood.
I do not cower. I often silently stand my ground because body language often speaks volumes. I live my life. I educate some people. I ignore those not worth my time and most importantly I embrace and cherish those who share their positive energy with me.
I focus on the people who give me the warm fuzzy feelings or the bright bursts of light from their souls. There is this one old gentleman whom I pass every morning. He sells cucumbers, fresh from his garden, by his house these days. He greets me with a big smile, says good morning in English and wishes me well. There are quite a few people, young and old, who sprinkle their goodness my way very often. There are some bitter people like you find everywhere and some self haters, I stay clear of them and keep it moving.
Essentially, I don’t dwell on being a minority. I am busy living my life, since work, church and my social life keep me going like an energiser bunny, for the most part.
Living my Life in Japan
I am an optimist and a realist. I choose to focus on the positives and accept the reality of different situations. I am living my life in the best way I know how, to be at peace with myself, my neighbours and to serve effectively at my job. I pay my taxes, obey the laws of the land, sort my garbage, you know, I do what is expected of a law abiding human being in every society.
I am a minority of a minority of foreigners in this country. It is not something I dwell on but I do not hide my head in the sand either and pretend it’s all peachy keen. This is my life, it’s a choice I make daily in this season of my life. I am fulfilled, I am blessed and fortunate in many ways. There is no utopia anywhere. Life is often what we make it, as cliche as that sounds. I like my life here and continue to stay in Japan because I do.