It’s funny how people just can’t seem to deal with it when someone puts them in their place.
An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for embarrassing someone by ‘pretending to be Japanese’?”. Here’s the full story for your context.
The Original Poster (OP) (F20) has a Japanese name even though she is not ethnically Japanese (her mom is Korean & dad is British). Her parents met and fell in love while studying in Japan and had OP there after marrying.
“We lived there until I was 14 before moving to the States. This will be important later on.”, says OP.
What Happened Today
Today, a group of OP’s roommate’s friends came over to study with her, and OP happened to be in the living room when they arrived. They were introducing themselves to OP, and when OP said her name (OP has a pretty standard Japanese girl name, so it’s pretty hard to be mistaken about the origin), one of the girls made a disgusted face and laughed at her saying that was so dumb.
She said that she was Japanese American and OP was “culturally appropriating her country as a white person.”
OP tried to explain that she lived in Japan for a while, which was why she was named like that. But the girl kept insisting that OP was lying and that if she were telling the truth, she could speak the language.
OP started talking to her in Japanese (basically explaining where OP lived there and asking which prefecture her parents were from, etc.).
“She ends up stuttering through a sentence in an awkward manner before leaving in a huff.”, says OP.
Some Time Later
Later, OP’s roommate told OP she embarrassed her friend by ‘pretending to be more Japanese than an actual Japanese person and appropriating the culture’ and her friend expected an apology.
“My roommate doesn’t think I did anything wrong but now I feel bad. Am I a jerk?”, asks OP.
You Weren’t ‘Pretending’ Anything
“Not the jerk. 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. You weren’t ‘pretending’ anything.
You have a Japanese name because that’s the name your parents chose for you, and you speak the language because you grew up there.”
All You Did Was Put Her In Place
“Not the jerk – their friend was the one who was rude, condescending, racist and a bore. You put her in her place. You deserve an apology for her, don’t you dare apologize as you were totally in the right here.”
You Deserve An Apology From Her
“She’s embarrassed because she called you out and you speak better Japanese than she does. She’s the one who owes you an apology for trying to shame you for something beyond your control (your name) and then not being supportive when you backed it up by speaking the language.”
This Is Not Your Problem
“Not the jerk. Sounds like she called you out, and then was embarrassed when you passed her ‘test’. Good for you, not your problem, no apology necessary.”
Being Multilingual Isn’t Cultural Appropriation
“Not the jerk. Your parents named you based on the culture they were living in at the time, and you grew up multilingual, speaking that language. Being multilingual and speaking other languages isn’t cultural appropriation.
Your friend and her acquaintance need to do more research into what is and isn’t cultural appropriation.”
Your Roommate’s Friend Is Ridiculous
“Your roommate’s friend is ridiculous. You didn’t choose your name, but even if you did choose that name it would be OK because you were living in Japan. It’s not appropriation, it’s respect.”
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