A young woman, who went by a common Japanese name, shared an apartment with a roommate in the United States. Surprisingly, this roommate would soon invite a guest to the apartment who would present themselves as being insensitive to the woman’s culture.
The woman was born to a British father and a Korean mother, who met and married while studying in Japan. She had been born in Japan and been given her Japanese name, spending a significant part of her childhood there before relocating to the United States at the age of 14.
On a regular day in her shared apartment, the woman’s roommate hosted a study session with friends. The woman was present in the living room when the guests arrived. In an attempt to be polite and make conversation, she introduced herself using her Japanese name.
One of the girls in the group reacted unexpectedly. She contorted her face in disgust and laughed at the woman for having a Japanese name whilst being ethnically Korean and British. ‘She said that she was Japanese American and I was “culturally appropriating her country as a white person”’, the woman explained.
An Attempt to Explain
Determined to clarify the situation, the young woman attempted to explain her unique background. She shared the story of her parents’ love story in Japan, hence her name.
Despite her truthful explanation, the girl remained skeptical. “I then tried to explain that I lived in Japan for a while and that was why I had a Japanese name, but she kept insisting I was lying and that if I was telling the truth I would be able to speak the language.”
Undaunted by the challenge, the woman started conversing with the skeptical girl in Japanese. She shared details about her life in Japan, such as where she lived, and even inquired about the girl’s family’s prefecture. “She ends up stuttering through a sentence in an awkward manner before leaving in a huff”, the woman laughed.
It was clear that the woman had humiliated the girl, and she began to feel guilty. She considered that she could have simply explained that she did indeed speak Japanese, instead of showing off her language skills and putting the accuser in the hot seat.
Later, the young woman’s roommate approached her. She reassured her that she did nothing wrong and that her explanation was perfectly valid. The roommate believed there was no need to apologize.
A Lingering Doubt
Despite her roommate’s support, the woman continued to question herself. She wondered if she truly overstepped any boundaries by defending her cultural background and identity.
Seeking Reddit’s Advice
The young woman turned to social media to seek advice and opinions from fellow users. She wanted to know if she was in the wrong for defending her heritage when faced with accusations of cultural appropriation. “You didn’t choose your name, and you were literally born in Japan”, one person defended. “That makes you Japanese, you’re not just pretending to be.”
The Guest Was Rude
Social media users unanimously agreed that the woman did nothing wrong. “The Japanese American guest was out of line, making rude comments about your name, and accusing you of lying when you told her you’d grown up there”, one person pointed out.
She Was Taught a Lesson
Many people claimed that the woman had taught the accuser a valuable lesson. “She’s mad because she looked dumb and made an assumption about you without knowing the facts”, one commenter stated. “None of that is your responsibility or problem. You taught her a very valuable lesson.”
Flip the Accusations
One reader even suggested a revenge tactic: “Hit back by telling everyone you’re expecting an apology from her for ‘disrespecting your biracial identity’ and ‘minimizing the discrimination that people of Korean blood experience in Japan’”, they suggested. “If she wants to play social justice poker show her you’ve got a full house, and make her pay up.”
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