Growing up in southern Florida, Miki Dezaki was exposed to a lot of stereotypes. The kids around him made jokes about people from Asia — and his immigrant Japanese parents said derogatory things about other Asians.

He was so sensitive to stereotypes from such a young age that he “would purposely get bad grades because I didn’t want to be the smart Asian in middle school,” Dezaki remembers.

But after he graduated from college and went to teach English in Japan, he realized that the situation might actually be worse in Japan. There, no one talks about it. There’s a generally accepted mythology in Japan that the country is homogenous. And if the country is homogenous, then racism and discrimination don’t exist.

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