Identity in Name: A Tale of Cultural Misunderstanding

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We came across an intriguing story on social media about a person with a unique name and their encounter with a debate over cultural identity. Let’s explore the twists and turns of this thought-provoking tale.

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Growing Up with a Japanese Name

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OP (Original Poster) had a Japanese name, even though her background was a mix of Korean and British. Her parents, who met and fell in love while studying in Japan, decided to name her with a common Japanese girl’s name. Physically, OP does not look like a typical Asian-born person. She spent her childhood in Japan until the age of 14 when her family moved to the United States. Little did she know, her connection to Japan would become a point of contention later in life.

A Disconcerting Encounter

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One day, as a group of her roommate’s friends came over to study, OP found herself in the living room when they arrived. When she introduced herself, a Japanese-American girl in the group reacted with disgust and accused her of cultural appropriation, claiming that she was “pretending” to be Japanese.

Despite trying to explain her background and the years she had spent in Japan, the girl remained skeptical and challenged her to speak Japanese. OP took up the challenge and conversed with her in Japanese, revealing her genuine connection to the culture and language. After this revelation, the girl, seemingly embarrassed, left the party.

Misunderstandings and Apologies

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After the encounter, OP’s roommate expressed embarrassment over her friend’s departure, suggesting that OP had acted inappropriately by appearing more Japanese than an actual Japanese person.

While OP didn’t believe she had done anything wrong, she couldn’t help but feel bad about the situation. It left her reflecting on the complexities of identity and the misunderstandings that can arise from superficial judgments based on appearance and names.

Online Opinions

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Tungsten_22 was one of the first to comment on the post:

“Cultural appropriation policing of somebody’s name has got to be one of the dumbest things I can think of. OP didn’t choose her name. Her parents did. Even if OP didn’t have a single connection to Japan the roommate’s friend would still be (wrong) because she’s barking up the wrong tree. If it offends her so much she should yell at OP’s parents instead.”

Slinkimalinki also commented on the absurdity of the situation, saying accusations of cultural appropriation don’t make sense when it comes to someone’s name.

“I think cultural appropriation makes sense when it’s something like “foreigners, please don’t copy First Nations art and sell it as your original art” or “ rich clothes designers, please don’t copy a traditional clothing design used by impoverished villagers as their main source of income.”

More Support For OP

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HeyGoogleImSad called out the roommate’s friend for wrongly criticizing OP, saying,

“The friend of your roommate had zero context about you and made assumptions about you, a stranger, and then proceeded to call you a liar after giving context and speaking in Japanese. You don’t need to apologize for being you, and their reaction says more about them feeling insecure with how rooted they want to be with Japanese culture. They also displayed that they have a narrow view of mixed race and mixed cultured people.”

PurpleVermont also supported OP, saying:

“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.”

The Verdict

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Online opinions overwhelmingly supported OP in this situation. Most commenters found the accusation of cultural appropriation regarding her name to be baseless and even absurd. They emphasized that OP did not choose her name, and her parents’ choice had nothing to do with her cultural identity.

In the end, the story serves as a reminder that understanding and empathy should prevail over snap judgments, and that one’s identity is not solely defined by their name or appearance.

What do you think? Do you agree with OP or the roommate?

Source: Reddit

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Pri Kingston

Ash & Pri are the Founders of and have spent the last decade building their way towards financial freedom and a lifetime of memories. Having successfully achieved their early retirement goal in under 10 years, they look forward to sharing their financial sense with like-minded people. Read more about Ash & Pri in the 'About Us' section.