Roughly translated it means something to the effect of: “Hey, Japanese People! When you see us black people do not avoid us. Every time you do it we get very upset. We are all the same! And we want to have a good relationship with you.
My friend, 空, after reading Lighten up Loco, was inspired to write an article on his blog about the black man’s experience in Japan as well as instruct me to say the above to Nihonjin. Unfortunately I don’t have many Japanese readers that I’m aware of and I’d be too embarrassed, humiliated to say it in public. So, I’m not exactly sure how I shall go about using the above except to post it here and share it with my readers.
If you can read Japanese and you want to read the rest of the post it’s available on 空‘s Blog. It’s well written and passionate. A great article! 空, I would love to respond to you in Japanese but my skills are just not where they ought to be (for various reasons I won’t make any excuses) and I feel that would be seriously detrimental to my communication ability. Sorry.
But, not for nothing, and though I’ve lightened up, I would like to say something…
The purpose of the lighten up loco article was to address my concerns about the attitudes of some of the gaijin who live here…not so much to admonish nihonjin. I think I’ve done enough of that throughout my blog. As far as being avoided is concerned…you know… if Nihonjin* simply avoided me I would be fine with that. It would bother me a little, but you know what, too bad. People have the right to avoid whomever they want. It’s just the way they* go about it that pisses me off sometimes.
But, no, my issue is not with avoidance. To be honest, that’s one of the lesser issues I deal with on a regular basis. Hell, my co-workers avoided me for 2 years. What I have an issue with is something I’m afraid may be primal and beyond redress. It’s the look in a nihonjin’s* eyes when he or she unexpectedly finds himself in my vicinity. It’s the terrified parent’s yank on their children from anywhere around me with a cry/yelp of ‘ABU~NAI’ (danger!), it’s the purse clutching and wallet pocket-shifting, and the turning of their* backs to me, and the placing of elbows, shoulders and briefcases between us on trains as to avoid any contact whatsoever, and the conspicuousness, the blatancy of all this…shameless, SHAMELESS…There’s absolutely no shame in their game at all. Dehumanizing and humiliating me is like common sense to Nihonjin*.
That’s why I said primal.
You know, sometimes when I find myself walking behind a nihonjin* I change my path quickly just to avoid the inevitable fear reaction I will cause (and the feeling of anger it will trigger in me- anger I don’t like to feel for nihonjin* everyday) or, if I must continue in the same direction, I pray they don’t turn around…and if they do I try to time their look around with the turn of my head, just like Japanese do (Geez, nihonjin ni nachau) My point though is if I don’t turn my head and pretend that I haven’t noticed the person at all, they’ll speed up, conspicuously so, or race away a distance then look back to see if I followed…and I watch them…I watch this nutty terrorized fucking behavior daily….there’s no shame that they had created this dramatic stalking episode in their minds, no question that they might have been wrong about it. No nothing. Just a “Phew. I made it! I’m safe! My quick reaction must have deterred him!” And I bet they’ll go home and tell their children or maybe their grandchildren someday in the future about how they escaped a close encounter with a hostile black stalker…and the children will sit there enthralled and terrified at the depiction of me, embellished with fabrication no doubt.
This is not avoidance I’m painstakingly trying to describe for you. This, my dear friend, this kind of thing cannot be addressed with a message as subtle as yours, I’m sorry…I’m also sorry that you feel the need to even say it. That, in and of itself, is a shame. This should go without saying…to feel the need to plead to your people for common decency, for them to treat people like they themselves would want to be treated…you must feel awful! I commiserate and I sympathize.
Nevertheless, I’d be happy to help you revise it…From what I’ve been able to glean over the past 5 years here, shame (and avoiding it) is a hell of a motivation for Nihonjin* so if you could somehow show them the shamefulness of behaving in such a way, maybe you’ll have a chance. I know…but it’s the best I could think of. Hell, it worked in America, to an extent. Thanks to people like one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes. He wrote a poem called “I, too, sing America” which I think contains a message that is close to what I would like to say, but not quite. The poem goes a little something like this:
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.
Yes, Langston Hughes was quite brilliant. Most of this poem I don”t think applies to the situation here. Just this stanza stands out as relevant to me:
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I know that shame is asking for a lot. But if you really want to compose a message to your brethren* then use that stanza as your inspiration and you probably won’t go wrong… I’m sure you have a much better idea of how to reach the minds and hearts of your people* than I do. If you come up with anything I’d be all too happy to read it. maybe we can put it on a T-Shirt (-;
And thank you again for caring. It’s really encouraging to know that there are people like yourself willing to stand up to the masses and say: “Alright, enough is enough!” I commend you 空さん、頑張って下さいね
Loco Lite (-; Tastes great, Less Feeling (-;
* The asterisks is for you “others” out there just dying to say something in defense of the Japanese (for some reason) who were thinking as they read this ‘he doesn’t like stereotyping yet he stereotypes Japanese’…just so you guys know: I don’t mean ALL Japanese people. Just the vast majority of the ones I’ve encountered who participate in said behavior. The Japanese otherwise are the salt of the earth and God’s gift to nature and all that good stuff.. (-:
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! LOL