In Japan, Some Common Occupations Are Viewed As Subhuman
Garbage collectors are criminally underappreciated everywhere, but Japan takes it to the next level. Sure, you might have a few strong words if your bin gets skipped, but Japanese sanitation workers are ostracized simply for existing. They -- along with other "unclean" workers, like butchers and undertakers -- are categorized as burakumin. Shintoism and Buddhism consider them spiritually tainted, which left them at the bottom of the social totem pole for centuries. They're sometimes called hinin (literally "nonhuman"), and the term for the lowest burakumin, eta, translates to "abundance of filth." A 19th-century legal document declares that any eta who committed a crime could be killed freely by samurai, because "an eta is worth one-seventh of an ordinary person." You ever had someone whip out a calculator and determine your worth mathematically? It's hurtful. (We had some harsh math teachers.)
Utagawa KuniyoshiAt least the school board took our side on that "expulsion via samurai" debacle.
Despite many attempted remedies, prejudice against burakumin and their descendants persists. Burakumin are shunned by society and typically forced to live in their own communities, which are inundated with hate mail. Lists of burakumin communities and names began circulating in the '70s and were soon outlawed, but some of those lists have survived to this day, and people use them to screen everything from potential employees to future in-laws. Keep in mind, they're not just checking to see if (gasp) their daughter is marrying a garbage man. Anyone who has ever been related to one is off-limits. That's about 50 percent of the Japanese population. It's like an entire nation of Emily Gilmores.
Things are getting a bit better. One high-profile buraku activist says people are contacting his organization about discrimination more, and hate speech laws are starting to be enforced. But to this day, if a buraku is asked what they do for a living, it's common to lie -- not out of shame, but to protect their own children.
Nesnad/Wikimedia CommonsWhich may have gotten a little easier, since one industry is very open to burakumin: the Yakuza.
Hug your local sanitation worker.
In Germany, Racist Stereotypes of Asians Are (Literally) Rewarded
After winding up with some serious egg on its face thanks to that whole Holocaust thing, Germany became a pretty progressive place. Today, its culture is shaped by a variety of inclusive policies suited to its multicultural citizenship, about 20 percent of whom are foreign-born. One group that isn't quite so well-represented? East Asians. It's hard to get an accurate count, since about half of Germany's two million "Asian" citizens are from the Middle East (which is indeed part of Asia, but still), but there are at most one million Asian-Germans in a country of 82 million people. Having apparently figured "what they can't see won't hurt 'em," Germany has become very cool with making fun of Asians. In fact, they give out awards for it. Specifically, for this, an ad for a Wagner concert by Japanese conductor Kent Nagano.
Scholz & Friends BerlinAll the pomp and culture of the symphony as reimagined by a morning zoo DJ.