A Ninja Perspective on Racism

I had an amusing experience on Friday as I was bringing my lunch – Chinese food from the place on the first floor – back up to my office. On the elevator ride up, the guy in the elevator commented, “Man, that smells good. Where ya delivering to?”

He had mistaken me for a delivery service, simply because I was an Asian guy carrying Chinese food.

What I found more interesting was the reaction of folks on Twitter when I made mention of the incident. Seems they were a lot more offended than I was.

Racism, whether explicit or implicit, is harmful, but from my perspective, it’s an important insight into a person, and a very public display of their weakness. Racism is a weakness, a character flaw that a skillful practitioner of ninjutsu can take advantage of. We have an expression – kyojitsu tenkan ho – which roughly translates as “truth as a lie, lie as truth”. Any character weakness can be turned against you, any preconceived notion about a person can be used to distract and divert your mind away from the reality of a situation, ultimately to your detriment.

In the case of this guy, his remarks told me that if I ever needed to infiltrate his office, say as a competitor to steal some confidential information off his computer network, I could show up with a bag of Chinese food and if I ran into him, he’d make a false assumption that I was working as a delivery boy.

If you find yourself the subject of false assumptions – blondes are airheads, blacks are criminals, Jews are stingy, anyone Muslim is a terrorist – ask how you can turn those assumptions to your advantage.

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