05 September 2011 ~ 67 Comments

No Place I’d Rather Be!

Following the tragic events of March 11th (and their aftermath), in an effort to dig myself out from beneath the rubble of doom and gloom that life here in Japan had taken on, I threw a Back to Life Blog Party. And, it was exceedingly successful! The party was hot, the “DJs” were talented and jovial,  readers were engaging and uplifted, and I emerged from the debris, dusty but reinvigorated.

If you missed it, here’s a link to the parties!

To everyone involved, guest bloggers and Loco supporters, my heartfelt thanks!

Well…the party is over!

It ended the other day when, for me, another earth-shaking event occurred.

It’s not an easy thing to explain, so bear with me for a moment.

If you follow Loco in Yokohama, then you know that over the past few days, and as many posts,  I have been focusing on something that I really had been trying not to focus on…at least as far as my blog is concerned. A subject that always leaves me feeling troubled.

Yep, the subject of race.

If you’ve read my most recent posts, then you know how much this incident in South Korea with the guy on the bus going postal on a Korean couple, and, in particular, the responses to it spewed in comment sections across the web, have disturbed me. (as I describe in a post I’m pretty proud of “A Man of our Time”)

This event was exacerbated by several conversations I’ve had with Japanese friends and students on the matter since then. It seems that this event in Korea has had some ramifications here in Japan, as well. Not that feelings about black people have changed. The effect seems to be a willingness to drop previously held reservations and discuss freely their true feelings on the matter.

It’s happened several times over the past three days during discussions of this  incident in Korea.

And in each case, with varying levels of disclosure and frankness, I’ve been told by Japanese that most of their fellow countrymen and women hold strong racist feelings against black people. One student even elaborated on the matter extensively, stating that, in general, (in that way that many Japanese have of speaking on behalf of their entire race,) Japanese look favorably upon whites and dis-favorably upon blacks.

I don’t know why it shocked me so to hear these things. I mean, I have felt it and pretty much had long since drawn these conclusions based on an overabundance of evidence. But, to hear it said directly really upset me.

It made me feel…blacker, in the derogatory sense of the word.

I realized, during this prolonged period of shock, that I hadn’t really considered myself  black all this time. Of course, in a cultural and ethnic sense, I did. But, this derogatory sense of what being black means, that black that is replete with all that is fearful and  loathsome, the one  that too many people for some reason seem to embrace…I never associated myself with that. I’d simply written off the people who saw that black when they looked at me, as lazy, ignorant, spiteful or afraid. And, if they ever really sat down and thought about how and why they’d come to hold these beliefs about black people, as I have for other races over the course of my life, then they’d probably see the error of their ways.

The blackness they see, I surmised, is the blackness in humanity.  Not me. That Japanese Salaryman who killed a NOVA teacher and buried her body in sand in his bathtub…he was black. Not me. The white kids walking the hallways of their school with AK47s, pumping rounds into their classmates, were black. Not me.

And, yes, that black guy who assaulted an elderly Korean couple on a bus was black.

Not me.

But, with “we, Japanese, are racists” ringing in my ears, for two very long fucking days I was as black as those people I mentioned above. I was capable of anything. I was worthy of every epithet ever hurled at a black person based solely on skin color. I could kill.

I felt scared. I wasn’t myself. I was everything the people around me feared. I had to close my eyes to keep their  hateful, fearful eyes out of my mind. I walked the streets of Yokohama like a somnambulist on a tightrope. The rope guided me to the third of five private English students I teach on Saturdays.

One of my faves.

He asked me what was wrong with me. He’d never seen me so upset. I told him about the  incident in Korea, and the hateful reactions to it that I’d read. I told him about the things some of my other students had said, about most Japanese fearing/hating black people and such. I told him everything.

And,  he, too, concurred.

“Yes, it’s true, we are racists!” he said.

And then he began to give me that whole spiel I’ve been listening to for over 8 years now, that same old hackneyed excuse, the Japanese lack of experience with blacks. I was about to shut down and drone away for the remainder of his lesson- half there half elsewhere- when he expanded his answer to include that the media- in particular the News outlets in Japan- support this thinking with biased reporting and the sensationalizing of negative stories about foreigners, in particular Chinese, Koreans and of course blacks.

“Same thing in America,” I sighed, feeling deflated and defeated, set upon by an international pack of dogs. I ran off my own spiel about not understanding why, when all races have an abundance of examples of people doing despicable, ignorant, and fearful shit, most even worse than blacks have ever done. When you think of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind, and even in this day and age, surely blacks do not come to mind.  “…I mean, sure, street crimes generally have a black face in the media, but nuclear bombs, biological weapons, hate crimes, organized crime, pedophiles,pederasts, priests raping boys, child pornography, political corruption, corporate greed depriving millions of their hard earned savings and investments…rarely do these have a black face, and these are the ills that really tear at the fabric of what we call civilization, are they not?”

I was almost hysterical.

“Doesn’t matter…” he said. And, he was right. Black skin apparently taps into something that deprives people of their ability to think rationally…something primal.

It reminded me of the previous night when a Japanese friend had asked me, if I could come back as a member of the race of my choosing, which would it be.

I felt so vulnerable at the moment she’d asked that, for about a solid 30 seconds,  I hated her…

Vindictively, I had answered “I’d come back as Chinese,” (knowing the contempt most Japanese, including her, hold for Chinese people.)

But, sitting there with my favorite student, I realized, that if I could I’d choose to come back a member of the same race I am now: Human.

That’s why I’d never felt black, I said to myself, feeling my spirits rise a bit. I’d been too busy trying to be a better human being to focus on the limitations of being a better black man.

My student noticed the change in me and asked me what was I thinking about.

I smiled, and told him that I was thinking that I was a human being, a writer, a thinker, and a dreamer, sentenced  to life confined inside of this brown skin…with no possibility of parole or escape.

And, regardless of the challenges- in fact, because of them- that there was no place I’d rather be.

Loco

Who is this guy, Loco, anyway? Click here

PS: I will be starting a new series in the coming days so stay tuned!

 

 

 

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67 Responses to “No Place I’d Rather Be!”

  1. Dochimichi1 5 September 2011 at 5:45 am Permalink

    Hi,
    I’ve got no deep thoughts to offer! Just hang in there. (I know, a platitude, but you know what I mean!).
    May be I’m naive, but I think each new generation is less racist than the previous one. May be with time all these induced misconceptions will be finally weeded out. I hope so! Perceptions are changing, and you help them change too.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 8:29 pm Permalink

      I hope you’re right DM! Though those creeps on Youtube seem to be awfully young, and if they represent the attitudes of change then I weep for the future.I will hang in there though. Hell, I’m gonna do more than hang, I’m gonna BANG in there (-;

  2. Sam 5 September 2011 at 6:31 am Permalink

    We should all be able to stand as tall as you do and be proud of who we are. Good for you Loco. A lesser man would have folded up shop but not you.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 8:38 pm Permalink

      Thanks Sam! I don’t see myself as special. Just another human trying to make it in the world. Folding up shop is not an option (unless you mean in the ultimate sense) because wherever you go this kind of thing persists. It may have a different flavor, but it’s all the same ice cream. Whether a Klan where’s a hood or a three piece suit, whether a racist has Pikachu dangling from her cell phone chain or a Golliwog, what’s going on in the heart and mind is the issue and its all part of the same interminable foolishness.
      But I ain’t ready fold up shop…not just yet (-;

  3. Orchid64 5 September 2011 at 7:58 am Permalink

    Everybody is a racist by nature. Humans are almost certainly inclined to fear that which is different from them on a biological level. It’s likely the same sort of primal fear that makes us fear snakes, run from buzzing insects, and feel nervous with unknown noises. Avoiding that which is alien or different likely played a part in our survival and our lizard brain probably has some code saying, “different than me = bad”. They’re also likely similarly inclined to be murderers, rapists, gluttons, and selfish on a basic level. It’s civilization that takes that out of us through acculturation and teaching. Culture can cure, but it can also damage, and that’s what you’ve been experiencing as of late.

    The main issue is how people react to various differences based on their cultural indoctrination, and I’ve been told by Japanese people that they have certain negative feelings about blacks in particular. A lot of it has to do with exposure to Western media and seeing blacks in street crime documentaries or news reports. A little bit of it has to do with aggressive and large Nigerian men on the streets of entertainment districts who make small, skinny, Japanese men feel intimidated when they try a little too hard to beckon them into their establishments. Most of it, however, has to do with a lack of any meaningful experience with black people in a normal context such as working together or being neighbors. They fear the unknown, and when they have no other data, they substitute their culture and media messages and images.

    There is hope, however. I work at a school on Fridays with two black teachers and four white ones (myself included), and one of the black teachers is the head teacher and extremely popular with students who clearly do not view black folks negatively. In fact, I think that the best thing you can do to fight racism is be intelligent, kind, and forgiving. In other words, be a good human being to show people that you are such a person. I think that’s why the black teachers suffer no discrimination (everyone takes both teachers’ lessons, some exclusively taking one or the other because they like them so much). People just see them as good people to spend a lesson with, not as a skin color.

    It’s absolutely an injustice that you have to fight such an uphill battle based on something you had no choice in – a genetic roll of the dice and a skin color that ignorant people judge you poorly because of. That being said, many people get bad rolls on various levels and we don’t tend to recognize the difficulties they face. Imagine being a man who is only 5′ tall and what he likely faces (shortness being seen as a “failure” in being masculine), or being a white man with male pattern baldness (note: perception of black men with no hair = sexy, white men = skinhead racist or just plain old). Imagine being an ugly or masculine-looking woman, or simply being born stupid. All of these are bad genetic rolls that no one chose which will result in a life of prejudice to varying degrees. It’s not fair to any of them to experience the resulting judgment they receive. It’s not nearly as widespread as the negative feelings about black folks, but that likely makes it no less painful to the people who are treated differently. In fact, with no compatriots, base of support, and a sense of highly individualized negative scrutiny, it may be even harder to live life as a very ugly person than as a minority. I don’t know, but if I could choose to be born noticeably ugly or black, I’d choose to be black without a moment’s hesitation. Of course, ask most women if they’d rather be fat or black, and you’d get a resounding answer of “black”. A recent survey found that women said they’d rather be blind than fat because fat prejudice is so overbearing and painful right now. If I could choose anything I wanted, I’d choose not to be born at all because the Buddha was right, “existence is suffering.”

    I’m not trying to say that there are worse things than being black because I don’t know what it is like to be black. I do know what it is like to be objectified and misjudged in Japan and what it is to be considered poor, white trash in America based on the socioeconomic status I grew up in. I know what it is like to be prejudged, and while it’s not the same, I think I can understand a little. I guess what I’m trying to say in my usual verbose way, is that you’re not alone in your frustrations and that we all live with the judgment people place on us based on nothing more than superficial glances. The main difference being that what you deal with tends to be fairly institutionalized, but it also is something which advanced cultures are working on fixing and making progress. If we weren’t, Obama could never have been elected. Note that a black man could become president before a white woman. This is an indication that being white isn’t necessarily the most important thing when people are evaluating individuals of different skin colors.

    For every Japanese person who uses that Korean bus video to discuss a negative perception of black men, there are a dozen more who openly admire and respect Obama. I’ve heard so many people talk about how intelligent, attractive and charismatic they find him to be. I’ve heard far more positive things about Obama than negative things about black people in general. This is something. It’s a curve on the road being turned in a better direction, but it’s only just a start and life is short and you’re probably so tired of this being a factor in your life.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 8:57 pm Permalink

      Ah Orchid my dearest! Thanks again for the hecka response.
      The question of nature vs nurture is a difficult one to answer. I’d swear on a stack of Korans that children don’t come out the womb thinking that a particular skin color is fearful because it’s different. Or that they are superior, by the decree of some higher authority, to another race. But you might be right. it might be in the DNA. I know I never feared or hated white until I was taught to do so maybe I’m different. Or maybe it’s that certain races are cursed with congenital racism, and certain races are blessed from birth with the ability to see past the biological differences.
      And, to be clear, virtually all acts of racism I’ve experienced here and back in the US, whether subtle or overt, were done by people I DIDN’T know. All the people I know and have gotten to know me here have either had their fear issues a/ dark questions addressed (as the say they’ve experienced black people via me) or have had them stunted from developing into issues due to their youth. I do not face any significant issues of a racist nature with co-workers are friends. it’s just the multitudes that i have never and probably will never meet that steal the joy from my day.
      Maybe it’s my nature to bring out the best in people lol seriously, though. Anyone who approaches me like they want to be my friend, I let them know what that means. They learn rather quickly that i am a man that will get in their face, in their heads and in their hearts with topics they’ve never dreamed they’d be talking about. I’m gonna challenge them, and insist they challenge me on many levels. I don’t do shallow and I don’t do Disney. And amazingly I’ve been fortunate to actually retain a few friends here (or facsimiles there of).

      Anyway, I hope you’re wrong about it being natural to be racist. GOD I hope you’re wrong!

  4. Momotaro 5 September 2011 at 9:02 am Permalink

    I felt depressed just reading your post, I can’t even imagine being in your shoes.

    These excuses of ‘not being experienced with ________’ etc. are soon approaching their used by date.

    Bouncing back from all of that negativity is quite remarkable. Keep going at it please.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 9:04 pm Permalink

      Sorry to have depressed you (but as a writer, it’s nice to know my ability to convey my experiences and thoughts moves people…I’m torn lol)Excuses are like assholes, a wise person once said…we all got em and they all stink! I’ve heard a number of excuses for retaining feelings of superiority or for discriminating against another group and the ‘No experience” one is actually one of the better ones. People with experiences with other races, or at least the opportunity to do so that goes un-exercised, their excuses are usually much worst IMHO. I can’t say I have bounced back, but I’m gonna keep on keeping on. I gotta. The alternative is to dark. Thanks for the shout!

  5. FloatingCamera 5 September 2011 at 10:18 am Permalink

    Feel your pain man. Pretty powerful piece. Probably nothing I can really add to what you say… Probably a discussion best saved for a face to face hehe.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 10:58 pm Permalink

      Thanks Float! Whenever you ready fora face to face holler. You know where I am!

  6. Our Man in Abiko 5 September 2011 at 11:53 am Permalink

    You are right to be troubled, but your conclusion is right also, IMHO. We are human. Your piece in Quakebook still rings true to me.

    • Locohama 6 September 2011 at 11:00 pm Permalink

      Thanks for the shout OMIA!

  7. Jonas 5 September 2011 at 12:47 pm Permalink

    What a strong piece.
    I’m so sorry for you that you have to go through all those emotions that you are actively trying to avoid. But your final thoughts are great! You left me with a big smile there… You should definitely be proud of yourself for the way you handle your own and society’s demons.

    Also, thanks to Orchid for an excellent commentary.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 1:16 pm Permalink

      Thanks Jonas!! I can’t say I’m proud of myself, but I’m running with the hand I’ve been dealt so I guess that’s something. (-;

  8. Scroozle 5 September 2011 at 3:45 pm Permalink

    Great write-up.

    Humans are silly creatures.

  9. Victoria (@MERITer) 5 September 2011 at 3:52 pm Permalink

    Hey,
    I agree with a comment that people are different and the differences are obvious, visible and those we don’t see at once. The way we learn them is something very personal and not easy. But the obstacles around us (you see it as your race) are there to make us stronger. As soon as you learn how to use it. Obama would never be a president if he wasn’t black. Zero chances. Americans even swallowed that he was born to an 18-year old unmarried Jewish mother. Something that never goes easy there. And this is the society that boasts openness. Nothing is open unless you make you mind about it open. Make a change in the place where you were planted.
    Cheers,

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:38 pm Permalink

      Hey Victoria! Disagree wholeheartedly, and hope you’re wrong! I hope what you’re saying is a product of the propoganda set down by forces that seek to keep people divided and thinking one race is better/worse than another. Personally I think this is done to always keep war based on racial differences on the table, and it’s easier to manipulate a nation divided, but that’s my theory.
      Thanks for sharing yours

  10. kp 5 September 2011 at 3:57 pm Permalink

    Profound and moving piece. A glimpse into your turmoil which most of us will never be able to relate to aka ‘Oh, I know how you feel’… And a rather concise, unfortunately grim, statement on the subject of racism in society (here and abroad) and the media…

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:40 pm Permalink

      Thanks KP! Grim it is…
      Profound? Thanks, but i think it’s basically what most minorities are thinking and feeling in such a situation. But I could be wrong!

  11. Kumasan 5 September 2011 at 5:24 pm Permalink

    I’m a black man who has lived in Japan for about 4 years. I read your piece and could feel myself waiting to find a point in your piece that I strongly disagree with. But I agree with everything you wrote. As a very hard working, often overly cautious person I completely relate to this feeling you’ve had of being “not ‘that’ kind of black person”, but the people who treat you based on your actions first rather than judging you for being black are few and far between. In Japan I have done well and hold a position some others (white or Japanese) would love to have. Still, when I walk the streets people here seem react as though I might run up and beat the hell out of them (doesn’t help that I’m quite tall and muscular). The only thing that seems to blunt this edge is when I wear a suit jacket and nice shoes, but I can’t wear that stuff all the time. (even though that is, luckily, how I like to dress) 

    I have plenty of anecdotes to share, but here’s a biggie (at least for me). Back in the U.S. I dated a Japanese woman for several years. We even lived together. Eventually we separated but we remained good friends. I’ll never forget when, after several years she admitted that she hated Chinese people and said that she thought they are worth nothing good. Since I knew her quite well, and hell, she had the nerve to be coupled with a black guy, I naively I chalked this Chinese racism up to history between the two countries. But years later still, hanging out at my house in Tokyo, in a moment of anger she told me that she thought I belong with a black woman. NOT an American, a black woman. I didn’t argue the point, I simply asked her to repeat herself, and then I quickly moved to another topic. But it was then that I realized how very organically racist she was, without even quite knowing it. Apparently she’d forgotten that I hadn’t even dated black women until college and that I never even lived in a predominantly black neighborhood, and thus was cultured to date all races, not just black. In her moment of anger, even after many years of knowing me intimately, she found it easy to reduce me to race, rather than the sum of my character. In my experience living in Japan, her view is quite common. 

    Sure, I know there are Japanese people who despise racism, and have deep admiration for people not like them–black people in particular. But they are they VAST minority in Japan. Since that incident, found myself less interested in doing the dance of fakeness that typifies most interactions in Japan. I don’t even like dating the girls here anymore. I still think they’re attractive, I’m just not interested. I date Western women here, and I love it. I think I will be returning to the U.S. soon, my evaluation is that Japanese are not half as cultured, refined, and mature as they like to think, and I’m happy to leave them to their society. 

    To Orchid, I like and appreciate what you wrote and agree with most of it, thanks.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 1:22 pm Permalink

      “Doing the dance of fakeness”
      You said it, bruh! Love that line. It seems the whole world (particularly members of majorites) wouldlike to see minorities do the dance of fakeness. i started this blog because my damn corns hurted and I’d developed bunions (so to speak) from doing that damn dance of fakeness.
      A dancing bear (kuma)? lol
      Any, Kuma-san, I’m glad you read this piece with adiscerning eye. I would hate to be agreed with without A-having been read carefully or B-because we share a racial designation, That would suck. All i want is for people to absorb my ideas, give them a chance to perculate a bit, and of course to share theirs. As I thank you for that!!

  12. Laura 5 September 2011 at 5:45 pm Permalink

    Hey~
    At first, I clicked on the link because I thought that people were twisting around the NOVA teacher story to the point that it was no longer a Japanese man but a black man. What is sad is that I didn’t doubt in my mind for a moment that that could’ve happened (the mixup, that is).

    I really like your take on this and how you have given a new perspective on what it means to be “Black.” I think it’s quite powerful.

    I do agree to some extent with the Japanese excuse of them not being exposed enough to people outside of their own country. They also have the additional problem that the news they DO get from abroad is usually the kind that won’t paint black people in a good light. They may love Obama here, they may have had to memorize parts of MLK Jr’s speeches for English class, but they’re probably getting the idea that upstanding black citizens are a rarity, and that is unfortunate.

    It always amazes me when I hear the assumptions that people here have of people in America. On the topic of black people in America, my boyfriend has said things like “Americans hate Obama.” When I ask what he knows about black people in America, he talks about gang signs and gang fashion. I’m not a good source of information about black culture myself (I’m Italian/Amish, so I didn’t have a lot of exposure to ANYTHING growing up), but I certainly know more than that and have tried to show him how wrong his assumptions are about what your average black person is like.

    But, touching on what you said about “human race,” one of my professors from college heads a project that I found interesting. http://www.understandingrace.org/ I took her class on the biological invalidity of race and it’s really made me think about how the idea of “race” is constructed. It guided me on a lot of my other papers throughout college.

    Anyway, again, great piece. I like the approach you took and the way you conveyed it. Hopefully, more people around the world can meet people like you to help change their way of thinking. Perhaps if they see more positive examples, they can see that maybe they shouldn’t be trusting the limited information that their context and media has given them.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:31 pm Permalink

      Thanks for that link Laura. it was indeed interesting! Kind of difficult to navigate though, but that might just be me or my computer (I used the term loosely).
      More on the rest of your comment will follow!
      Thanks for the shout!

  13. Corinne 5 September 2011 at 6:42 pm Permalink

    Wow. I honestly feel stupid and pointless giving my opinion on the racist debate in Japan (or anywhere else for that metter) because when it comes down to it, white girls have it pretty easy in most places in the world including Japan so I could never come close to knowing how it feels.

    I can only imagine that it would be frustrating and bring up so many conflicting emotions though. This post really made me think as your writing always does. Thank you!

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:29 pm Permalink

      Don’t feel stupid. It’s never an easy thing to wear someone elses shoes. I write about this because I think it’s important for people to at least try to do so though. It’s the only way that we’ll ever be able to understand one another.(meaning all humans, not just you and I) (-;
      It is frustrating, but knowing that people out there actually care about these issues even though they are privaleged not to have to endure them is encouraging! Thanks boo!

  14. Caroline Josephine 5 September 2011 at 8:59 pm Permalink

    I just… like this. I like how it ended. I’m glad you’re feeling better. 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what you have next up your sleeve.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:25 pm Permalink

      Thanks CJ! Hopefully you won’t have to wait long, Love! (-;

  15. Will 6 September 2011 at 12:03 am Permalink

    Didn’t see that coming…but when the party is over, it’s over I guess. Lights go on, time to empty out the cups a few people left (down the sink, of course), grab a broom for those few pieces of glass that were missed under the table. Nobody’s saying what else they may have found during cleanup…yeah, it was a good party.

    Now it looks like everyone’s off to the races.

    Seems like no matter what truth a person has discovered, the current social reality we find ourselves in, whether it’s merely knee-deep or over our heads, we’ve got to be able to deal with the fickle viscosity and force of those social currents. Seems like that’s the reality we’ve got at this point.

    Race, a flawed concept at best, is an issue I’ve had to deal with and will have to continue to deal with, even if I know the earth isn’t flat. Yeah, round maybe, but not necessarily smooth.

    For what it’s worth, when I do make my ‘race’ post(s), I’ll be sure to include results of the additional tests I take on the Project Implicit website: http://www.projectimplicit.net/generalinfo.php

    Where there are people who find it somehow surprising or curious that “People are often unaware of their implicit biases”…my intermittent discomforts occur when entertaining the idea that there are people who may be very aware of their implicit biases and be completely comfortable with them. My experience of Japan has been one where people who are commonly associated with the tile of ‘intellectual elite’ don’t really seem to be either.

    Got a bucket, now I think I need to grab a mop.

    Yeah…must have been one heck of a party.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:25 pm Permalink

      “Where there are people who find it somehow surprising or curious that “People are often unaware of their implicit biases” Maaaaannnn, Will! You said a mouthful. And, I too am guilty of that (being human and all) so I often find myself trying to be soooooo careful when i write and speak so as to be fully aware of what I’m thinking feeling and sharing with readers. and even with all that self monitorig and editing, i still unleash my biases on the world, as I’m sure readers here know. So, this is why I endeavor to avoid any notes of righteousness or wrds that convey that I’m in the position moral authority because I’m a black man. But it isn’t easy, and I fail often (at least on first drafts) (-; Thanks for the shout! And for the link. Interesting stuff!

  16. Rubi 6 September 2011 at 2:40 am Permalink

    “Set upon by an international pack of dogs.”

    “It reminded me of the previous night when a Japanese friend had asked me, if I could come back as a member of the race of my choosing, which would it be.

    I felt so vulnerable at the moment she’d asked that, for about a solid 30 seconds, I hated her…”

    Powerful, stuff. Your craft at its best. I can’t say anything except I’ve been there; those days when I just want some sanctuary.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:18 pm Permalink

      Thanks Rubi-san! Means a great deal coming from you!!

  17. Alex 6 September 2011 at 3:27 am Permalink

    We are all gonna have our crosses to bare as pioneers of the black race (and if we are moving forward positively in a way that garners attention we are all pioneers) as a young black male working in the city I’ve suddenly become aware of just how much of an actual minority we are in the corporate world as apposed to the majority that fills the poverty stricken towns that spiral out from central London. With the recent riots the dormant bigoted opinions of people that not only influence our careers but the opinions of the entire country have been roused making it feel like they are just waiting for me to throw on a hoodie on and loot foot locker. This all pretty off topic but I thought you might like to know that there are plenty of us out there dealing dealing with the softer more insidious side of racism so keep your chin up and weather the storm.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:17 pm Permalink

      Hey Alex, I beg to differ. This is not off topic at all. Those riots in London are just another example of what I’m alking about. In fact they may have been the begining of my feeling this feeling I’m trying to manage now. Because the response to that was even worse in many ways than the response to this Korean Bus thing.
      When blacks riot, as we inevitably do, some whites get this racial sense of righteousness/superiority/condescension/ that could be encapsulated in statements like “This is why they’ll never be equal to us or earn our respect…because they don’t know how to convey grienvances without resulting to their violent barbaric roots!” in their tone that is so aggravating and arrogant, I could spit!
      So yes you are definitely on topic my friend.
      And thanks for the shout and the understanding!

  18. jensketch 6 September 2011 at 6:22 am Permalink

    I commented on Google+ 🙂 But I’ll still give you a hug here.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:08 pm Permalink

      Thanks Jen, I’ll take all the hugs I can get!

  19. Eddie 6 September 2011 at 1:02 pm Permalink

    This post is inspirational. You are standing your ground no matter what. I’ve been on this site for a while now and I realize that you experience racism fairly often it seems like. A typical person would change how they view japanese people and would probably become hateful towards them… But you don’t, you hold true to your core values. You don’t discriminate and you treat everyone equally. The world could learn a lesson or two from people like you. Although I don’t know you personally I just want to let you know that in my book, you are held in great veneration.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:05 pm Permalink

      Thanks Eddie!
      Sorry to dissappoint you but I am ore typical than you give me credit for. I have develop, to an extent, a certain amount of hate for Japanese people. My tolerance is low, my patience is short, as is my fuse. The only way I can manage here is to utterly ignore them, which is how I display my hate. Often I walk right past people I know I keep them so out of focus sometimes.
      Maybe you missed it but last year I wrote a 40 part series on being a racist myself. That series is currently not available, sorry, so i can’t provide links for you…but holdtight, it will soon be available in another format (-;
      The world might be able to earn something from me, but that lesson
      won’t be how not to be a racist. Maybe it’ll be something more at how to manage your racism or how to not let racism make a victim outta you…something like that.
      Thanks again!

      • Eddie 8 September 2011 at 2:36 am Permalink

        Loco I never got to read that 40 part series you were talking about. But as of now I see you as someone who is not a racist. You may think you hate Japanese people from time to time. But I think in reality you don’t hate them you just hate their ignorance. You hate the fact that sometimes it seems like they knowingly embrace their ignorance. I myself am black and I remember my ex girlfriend who happened to be kurdish discussed race with me. Her parents did not approve of our relationship but it was mainly her father who didn’t approve, it always seemed like her mother was secretly accepting of it. She brought up the fact that her father did not care for black people because most of the time when his store was vandalized it was by black youth and most of the negativity that he experienced at his store was by blacks. She understood his anger towards blacks because she had seen everything but at the same time she realized that his hate for blacks in general was not okay. We discussed this with her father and he said he saw what point we were trying to make but his feelings would not change. I asked if he hated me and he didn’t say yes but his response wasn’t no either, his response was that he feels his daughter would be better off with a kurdish man. To me he was a man who knowingly embraced his ignorance even though deep down I think he knew it was wrong. I broke up with Karli for various reasons but being with her was a learning experience. When 9/11 happened things got really bad for middle easterners. That was the first time her father realized that people in general can be ignorant and cruel. He actually called me to apologize out of the blue, it had been a while since I spoke to them. I accepted because he truly meant it. I kind of trailed off with this story but I guess my point is you hate overwhelming ignorance in people, especially when they embrace it. Sometimes you can’t control your thoughts but you can always control your actions. (Who doesn’t curse people out in their head while smiling in their face) I think you do a good job of controlling your actions. What the world could learn from you is patience, and perseverance. Thats just my opinion though.

  20. dwayne2d3d 7 September 2011 at 10:20 am Permalink

    waah gwaan loco…..
    my take on it is this, from primeval time
    people feared the the night, that fear became
    deep rooted and permeated all facets of mankind
    no matter the race so their is a psychological component to fear things black……

    That’s why even now everything thats black is associated with evil
    and anything white is associated with good..
    eg. black cat/black magic/black death
    eg. white knight/white magic/white lie….

    I use to help a good friend by babysitting his kids, they are mix spanish/white
    one day the younger kid 6 years old ask me if i got burned when i was a kid, he has no concept of race just the fact that i’m darker that him…

    anyway i don’t wanna run off on a tangent, but my point is you just have to grind loco…
    take it one day at a time have a beef patty and coco bread with a kola champange, do your part and the rest will work it self out..
    -or at least thats what they say-
    one love loco..

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 12:07 pm Permalink

      Hey Dwayne,
      Interesting theory.
      One thing though. If the first people to walk this planet were black people (and this is a scientifically proven fact) it seems odd that these people would develop and inate fear of themselves…don’t you think?
      Also, this fear of the night was undone through human intelligence, no? So, I’m not sure that this psychological component is any more valid than an individual remaining afraid of the dark over the course of their entire lives. I mean, at some point, the night becomes as beautiful as the day…even more so cuz it’s the best time to see the heavens beyond the confines of the sky and clouds. The night can arguably be the the impetus for man’s progress. Th night presented myseteires that once answered were the keys to understanding navigation, the earth’s cycles, the greater universe beyond our own, just for example. And the moon is worshipped at least as much as the sun over the course of history. Anyway, that’s my take on that.
      As for a child thinking you were burned, chalk that up to ignorance and curiosity…also the keys that de-mystified the night.
      I’ll take some Escoveith fish, crusts and a plantain tart, please (-;
      Thanks for the shout!

      • dwayne2d3d 7 September 2011 at 7:02 pm Permalink

        quick question loco!!
        do you prefer driving at night or daytime?
        would you traverse a jungle in the day or at night?
        which has a more mystifying feel to it sunlight or moonlight?

        my point being, yes humans have evolve but that fear is still present…
        I mean when’s the last time you saw a scary movie in the daytime?..
        we fear the night now just as much as we did in the past….
        most violent crimes still happen in the night…

        Now i’m not here to defend stupid people, and why their feelings towards us are as it is, but to me everything is relative and if all was reverse it would be us fearing them…….
        so that’s how i cope
        -btw- i don’t refute that the first humans were black, but that shouldn’t imply that they would revere all things black…

        well take care sir…
        imma go get me some escovitch fish later in the day…..
        -one love loco-

        • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 7:43 pm Permalink

          I didn’t say they revered the night. I just said that it would be strange for them to develop an inate fear of darkness and not be able to distinguish betwen dark skin and night.
          I prefer driving in the daylight because we can see clearly in the daytime. Not because of some inate fear of darkness.
          Same for crossing a jungle…if i can see the dangers than I can bette defend myself. That’s logic. that’s not an inate fear of darkness. i think we’re talking about two different things.
          I like scary movies at night because of the mood the night sets. I have no fear pf the night. Most violent crimes happen at night because criminals can use the darkness to conceal themselves easier. And this inate fear of darkness doesn’t seem to keep them nor their victims indoors at night.
          I don’t know…your theory is interesting but by no means un-debatable.
          Enjoy your fish!

          • dwayne2d3d 7 September 2011 at 11:42 pm Permalink

            i can’t convey my point in a concise manner..
            but to some extent you hit the nail on the head…..

            the daytime/light/sun/white is perceived as clear/open/peace
            whilst nighttime/dark/black is perceived as shady/closed in/war..
            you kind of inadvertently prove my point loco that there is a psychological component to it in your explanation…

            light red is innately considered benign while blood red conjures up the opposite feeling, i know i’m not speaking directly to what your topic is loco, but i just always like to find the answers to issues in other non-conventional ways

            that being said, your point is very well taken loco….
            -peace-

  21. Amanda T 7 September 2011 at 12:43 pm Permalink

    “nuclear bombs, biological weapons, hate crimes, organized crime, pedophiles,pederasts, priests raping boys, child pornography, political corruption, corporate greed depriving millions of their hard earned savings and investments…rarely do these have a black face”

    I’ll take it one step further and say these crimes almost always have a *white* face, so clearly here in Japan (and I submit that it’s the same the world over), the ability to ignore the negative and embrace the positive in a race exists, after all, according to your student that’s the case right now with anyone of European descent. There’s seems to be an attitude of forgive and forget here, which I think is wonderful and necessary for the human race as a whole to move forward into enlightenment.

    But for some reason, and it baffles me as much as you, this thinking is never applied to blacks. Perhaps the world believes only those with white skin are responsible for the comforts of modern society? Perhaps, having bought into the hype that black is inferior, we don’t toot our own horns enough. We don’t have as a good of a PR machine. We don’t emphasize the contributions of African Americans to modern society. I admit my own knowledge of black history and achievements is not what it should be, but with just a quick google search I found this site about famous black inventors: http://www.black-inventor.com/.

    Examples are that a black man, Dr. Mark Dean, helped with the development of the modern computer, or the work of Dr. Charles drew that lead to the modern blood bank. But few people know these things, myself included until I made the effort to look it up. Up until then I subconsciously assumed these things were solely the work of white people.

    Why?

    • Jason 10 September 2011 at 10:43 am Permalink

      “nuclear bombs – considering the multinational nature of the development of the technology, and the fact that the only country to deploy them during wartime is NOT an exclusively white country, it’s pretty inaccurate to refer to this as being a ‘white’ crime per se.

      biological weapons – A nasty crime that has been used in multiple settings throughout history by different groups on both each other and others, this is also something you can’t really define as being a ‘white’ crime. (Of especially interesting note for those non-scholars of history is the fact that the modern American biological warfare department was founded on research they got from the Japanese at the end of WWII, research that was taken at the cost of many Korean and Chinese lives)

      hate crimes – Whites are probably the biggest perpetrators of these badboys in the USA, but worldwide there’s a lot of hating going on, and killing, raping, and general nastiness done through the dehumanizing of the other that have nothing to do with folks of European descent. Not much of a ‘white’ crime.

      organized crime – Ever heard of Yakuza or Triads? Seriously?

      pedophiles,pederasts – Not unique to a skin tone.

      priests raping boys – While the leadership of the Catholic church is overwhelmingly white, there are still an awful lot of local priests in other countries, and I’m betting one or two who weren’t white have had an unwilling sip from the altarboy cup. (and given the phrasing, isn’t limited to catholics)

      child pornography – Hey, Japan’s famous for making this stuff!

      political corruption – This has been rampant everywhere everywhen, just saying.

      corporate greed depriving millions of their hard earned savings and investments – You think this only happens when white people are sitting on the board of directors?

      Whether a conscious decision not to focus on them as ‘white’ crimes because it’s inaccurate, or Loco’s instincts just not wanting to put too fine a point on something that can’t be backed up, I think that it’s for the better that he DIDN’T tag these as being white crimes, because they’re HUMAN crimes. People being nasty to be sure, but far from limited to whites.

      (Incidentally I’m not really disapproving of the general points of your post, just the decision to classify them as primarily white, since on a grand scale it’s quite inaccurate, and pointing fingers at a different ethnicity just means being racist toward someone else)

      • Locohama 10 September 2011 at 10:54 am Permalink

        Thanks Jason. My point was that those crimes don’t have black faces in the media and are generally associated with others and are by far worse.

  22. Locohama 7 September 2011 at 1:32 pm Permalink

    Whoa!!Homegirl is TRULY in Japan now! LOL Just kidding…kinda!
    I try to avoid coming on too strong in my writing, especially on race (lol I’m serious, though) The reason is because I don’t want anyone of any race to have a kneejerk reaction and get defensive. i could have said that most of those entities have white faces as well, but that wasn’t the point, and didn’t need to be said. Any person that reads that statement knows what I’m talking about and can come to that conclusion without my saying so. Also, it’s a matter of giving the reader credit…something that writing on the internet makes you wary of but I still do it, because I knoiw Loco readers are for the most part the cream of the crop!
    You are absolutely right about the lack of PR for credit due to blacks and the over abundance of it for white deeds. No wonder it’s easy to overlook the dark side. I mean for every dark story of the nature of those I mentioned, there are 100000 positive ones. If blacks did the same, maybe in about 100 years, we certainly would be able to lift this stigma. At the risk of overstating the obvious, Obama, though a helluva racial accomplihment, just isn’t enough to erase 400 years of bad press!
    More to follow on this, but thanks for the shout Amanda love!

    • Amanda T 7 September 2011 at 2:46 pm Permalink

      Yeah I knew you left out the race of the majority of the perpetrators of the crimes you mentioned on purpose. I only mentioned it to make my point that it is in fact possible that the negative actions committed by some members of one race 1) don’t necessarily need to by applied to all the members of the race and 2) can be forgiven, and Caucasians are the best example.

      But you already know this, am I beating a dead horse?

      • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 8:00 pm Permalink

        Sometimes that horse needs a beating…I mean, in this day in age, racism is basically beating a dead horse in itself. The world is so much smaller and we need to be able to get past this thing to truly evolve as a species. But, while some people benefit from its survival, and some peole think it’s human nature, and some people aren’t even aware of their racism, it will continue…perhaps until we all come to the realization that we’re all in this together…maybe when aliens from another world pay us a visit we’ll finally be able to shed our racist inclinations. I’m sure the propoganda at that time will adjust our racial focus from color to species…
        Did you ever see District 9 or Starship Troopers? Those films probably show how it would be. Same shit different species…but i hope not!

  23. Fernando 7 September 2011 at 4:49 pm Permalink

    Well, I started this on twitter and you said bring it here so I shall. I can’t pretend to know where you come ethnically no matter how many blog posts I read or how much James Brown I groove to while listening to the “I have a Dream” speech being blasted from an Obama bobblehead with a speaker attached to it. That said, the whole of identity politics drives me batty. To a point it solidifies and empowers an individual, and to another it just makes one no better than batshit psychos waving around Confederate flags.

    I’m Mexican and I am simply not impressed by the majority of Latin-American activists trying to create an identity that is just as pin-holing as anything “whitey” can come up with (never mind that I frequently pass for white, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish). Not that I don’t enjoy tacos, salsa and Alejandra Guzman (man, I’m dating myself here, it’s that it’s not entirely who I am and many of these groups, knowingly or unknowingly, go that way.

    The quickest way to get me to snap at something in this sort of frustrated anger is to say “Gaijin are XYZ” or “Japanese people are ZYX” and pontificate a long and drawn-out post on why this is. Yeah, maybe this is a calling out.

    What do I see in Japan? Stupid people, smart people, people who like America, people who don’t, fools getting drunk, maids talking politics, half-black girls talking to their Japanese friends in seifuku in Osaka, kids saying Obama is gross, kids saying the NFL is cool, lovers kissing in the rain and a man dragging a screaming woman in the train station. It’s all this stuff and the stuff you agree with you accept and the stuff you don’t you address as best you can but understand that change comes from within first and foremost. Unless it involves screaming at said man and calling cops on him. Japan is just another nation with its good points and bad points and I’m really over trying to figure out THE COMPLEX RUBIC’S CUBE THAT IS THE INSCRUTABLY INSCRUTABLE JAPANESESHEJHJKSDH MIND. Both foreigner and local are really just tooting their horns for WHAT IS RERSAL+ JAPENSE>DL+SL!?!!} as far as I’m concerned in my albeit limited experience.

    And that’s kinda I feel about being Latino OH WAIT SORRY MEXICAN because someone will cry that they’re different even though we all got royally raped by pretty much the same continent. Oh sure, it’s fun to speak Spanish and if I meet another Spanish speaker we’ll have that one more common thread connecting, but unless it comes to getting a scholarship or being able to get that one more film in a festival, it’s just not that big a deal in my existence. I’m a Mexican born in America who aspired to live in Japan. I can’t dance salsa or sing well and I prefer cameras to low-riders couldn’t name a Mariachi group outside of Tigres Del Norte to save my life and really, I’m okay with that.

    So while questions of identity I find sometimes interesting, I myself refuse to subscribe to them. My lot in life is mostly a coincidence of birth. One I’m grateful for, but a coincidence nonetheless.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 5:20 pm Permalink

      Thanks for sharing Fernando!
      Not suire what you’re responding to, though. Are you responiding to my stating that I consider myself merely human? (seems we agree on that point..I say seems cuz your response has this “stream of conscious” rant feel to it that is hard to decipher…almost like you’re doing it pruposely) Are you saying that discussions of race are uninteresting because within every race there is diversity? Actually I really can’t make heads or tails out of your comment…It feels discombobulated or written in a un-decipherable code. Or maybe I’m just tired. Clearly you’re trying to say something here. I just have no clue what it is!
      What can I say…thanks for trying

  24. Fernando 7 September 2011 at 6:34 pm Permalink

    Looking back on that, this is exactly the reason why I don’t write an actual blog and keep my statements to 140 characters and/or a single JPEG or less. It’s kinda raw and rushed as I clank it out in the span of a few minutes before I had to take off and close the browser window.

    You pretty got it with that it’s how I feel on discussions on race with all the frustration and borderline nonsense I find in it. There comes a point when it starts to feel like navel-gazing into an abyss once you get to a certain point, with all the Nietzsche subtext that implies. Whether it be the Nihonjinron which basically comes out to a whole pile of WHITE FOLK DRIVE LIKE THIS WHILE JAPANESE FOLK DRIVE LIKE *THIS* without the irony, or trying to put the actions of a guy who blew his fuse in the scope of American oppression and then trying to shoehorn yourself into that; Frankly, both just come as irrelevant and trying to reach too far into something that may not be there anymore than Iraq War subtext might be in Blade Runner.

    That’s not to say I’m oblivious to discussions on race. When I hear about how peaceful Japanese are, I am quick to toss out a few words about those types you say you see as being “black.” They usually remain convinced about their previous notions but at least the small pause gives them a moment to reflect. However, I try to not let such thoughts run my day to day existence.

    We are not machines pre-programmed to blow up or bow anymore than we are to be able to differentiate L and R.

    There. I think that’s a bit more readable.

    • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 6:56 pm Permalink

      Still, i think you’re responding to what’s going on in your soul or mind more so then the piece I wrote and i presume you’ve read…perhaps if you reference something in this piece that prompted the words above, that would help. Other wise it seems that you’re just responding to everything you’ve ever read about race, balling it all up in the same wad of foolishness, and dumping it here. If you think this piece is more of the same navel watching then at least do me the favor of pointing out which words lead you to that conclusion. When you comment on my photographs, your critiques are crystal and as you know I can take criticism, but to write off any discussion of race as irrelevant? That I don’t get. Of course, if you’re “above” it I get.that, and if it doesn’t impact you at all because you”ve turned an apatheitic ear on it, i get that too (God knows I’ve tried) but as a Mexican that passes for white (as you’ve mentioned on twitter i think) you probably should consider that there is a whole aspect to life in japan that you simply could not see even if you didn’t gravitate towards apathy.

      • Fernando 7 September 2011 at 9:02 pm Permalink

        Also why I don’t post much on your non-photographic posts. All this IS indeed more a general reaction based more on emotion, instinct and experience and frankly I don’t see where I can apply logic. Lenses have apertures, people do not.

        To be honest, the words that made the gears turn in my head was simply your preamble where you bring it back to “the subject of race,” which got me to think about my thoughts on the matter. Plus the fact that I was articulating cliff-notes versions of my thoughts on twitter and encouraged to elaborate, which I am frankly now regretting. People say confusing things, lie, cheat and love, meanwhile the Nikon D300s has buttons for easy control, swappable lenses and top-rate customer service.

        I wouldn’t quite put this on the navel-gazing, not quite as much as the previous article Man of our Time, which was a great history lesson but didn’t leave me feeling enlightened on why a guy flipped out on a bus. That said, The discussion on blackness and not-blackness and especially your reassertion in the comments of having ‘developed, to an extent, a certain amount of hate for Japanese people’ really then set me off on this whole thing. I frankly can not grasp how one can contemplate their identity on an ethnicity on such a profound level.

        When I grew up in Southern California in a school with a bunch of wanna-be/kinda-sorta-fuckifireallyknow Mexican gangbanger types, I really did not see any of myself in them and, while I don’t know how it is now in the states, nobody else really made me think of myself that way or, if they did, I don’t remember. From everything you write and that I have seen on TV here and abroad, I get the feeling you have a far different tale to tell, but there’s my experience.

        As you infer, it’s frustrating to see us all, Easterner and Westerner alike, sticking around this roadblock that, in my experience, had thought been demolished long ago and don’t quite see others around me experiencing to nearly the same extent. Those previous walls of texts are fueled by me trying to articulate long-held, little-expressed thoughts beyond a chatbox limit and I sincerely apologize. It’s not my expertise, I don’t pretend it to be, but those are my honest feelings on the matter.

        Sure, if someone says something racist, I will call them out on it til they at least regret having opened their mouths in front of me and think twice about it next time, but that’s about it.

        I understand that there’s 40+ posts of complex soul-searching behind that ‘certain amount of hate,’ that admittedly I have not read in its entirety while it was up. As I said, even if I did I doubt my experience can’t comprehend it – explaining how a world without God works to a devout Christian, in a sense. You’d talk about racism and I understand you feel it but really all I know that I never could and it just leaves me in a state of frustration and confusion with no clear answer that I find futile in trying to address because the forces causing it will be out of our control for the foreseeable future.

        I am not denying your experience. I am not you and don’t pretend to know what you have felt. However, I have seen many people say quite a few things similar, if with a different set of emotional baggage. Of course, your beliefs are of course also formed by your experience and observations. I am not trying to call you a liar. It’s just two different roads, two different conclusions and rarely the twain shall meet. I’m sure you’ve heard my song and dance many a time before in any case.

        Now I’ll keep my comments to photographs. Y’know, stuff I actually know something about and prefer to keep my thoughts on.

        • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 9:23 pm Permalink

          Thanks for clarifying somewhat…I really would liek to understand your position better but i also know ALLTOO WELL the frustration of trying to articulate feelings. So, i thank you for past remarks on my photios and look forward to more! You’re a helluva critic and i truly feel that you’ve helped me in that area. I’m also able to see many correlations between photography and writing. Thanks again for taking the time to comment on this rather trying issue.

        • Locohama 7 September 2011 at 9:34 pm Permalink

          I’m sorry, I didn’t respond fully. I think the history lesson was more in response to the You Tube and Mormot’s Hole people. The ones talking about the lack of black contributions to humanity and associating blacks with animals, and suggesting blacks were a different species based on that incident. I wasn’t trying to justify his behavior.
          But that’s not to say that history is irrelevant. It certianly is not. But, to try and explain how history is connected would require much more than a blog post…so I didn’t even attempt it.

  25. Korin 8 September 2011 at 12:17 pm Permalink

    Wow. This is good, you’re good. So very interesting.
    I find it interesting to know that you would “come back as a human” in that answer! It reminded me of a conversation I had with my mom a long time ago.
    I said this:

    “I don’t even know any Mexicans!”

    This was a complete and utter lie. At the time, I knew far many more Mexicans and people from South America than I do now. The thing of it was, I didn’t think of them as different than myself, and therefore didn’t distinguish them at all. I thought of them as my friends, my co-workers. I didn’t think of them because of their race.

    I realize that it’s not entirely the same thing, but where I live there are many more Hispanics than there are black people. In my area, Hispanics commit most of the crimes, and are always called the illegal aliens even if they aren’t.

    So I feel like you’re totally and utterly right.

    • Locohama 10 September 2011 at 9:24 pm Permalink

      Thaks Korin!
      Yeah, humans are pretty cool, aren’t we?
      Humans rock!

  26. Pat Smyth 10 September 2011 at 4:03 am Permalink

    Many people fear what they don’t know or understand – or what seems different to them. If we watch our pets, that’s a natural reaction. The good thing is that exposure to these differences in a good way helps to eliminate racism. Unfortunately, a negative experience can have a more lasting impact which is more difficult to dispel.
    I work in an environment which is extremely multicultural – and to my mind more interesting because of that. I never considered myself to be racist. However, after a few years with one Mexican co-worker who didn’t fit in (to say the least) I found that I would physically cringe and my blood pressure would start to rise upon hearing a male Mexican accent. This, even though we had many other Hispanics who didn’t cause the same reaction and I knew my reaction was completely illogical.
    Hang in there. I truly believe that the world is getting smaller and acceptance is getting more common.

    • Locohama 10 September 2011 at 9:08 pm Permalink

      Thanks Pat!
      Our Pets? My cat licks his own bottom! I think we should leave animals outta this, otherwise we’re in way over our heads. lol
      I don’t know calculus but I don’t run from it.
      I don’t understand transvestites or sane people that don’t wash their bodies but I have no fear of them.
      I agree, exposure has the potential to help, but i think exposure to ideas of the equality of humanity need to be impressed upon people as a necessary first step.
      If a child is indoctrinated, for example, into thinking that its race is the greatest race in the history of mankind, but that one needs to be tolerant of other races too because one has to unfortunately share the planet with these over-senstive volitile inferior beings. But one must be careful not to get too close to them for they carry contagions (both physical and mental)that will drag one down to their level before one knows it, and may even lead to the destruction of one’s own race. Thus, one should avoid when possible, tolerate when necessary, by no means should one engage in miscegenation or any other unnecessary cooperation, etc… I think you’d have to agree that exposure ain’t gonna help someone with this kinda programming so much.
      That was a mild exxageration of the sense of superiority, entitlement and privelege that some people, of all races, walk around with…. But only a mild one.
      Beter act like you know. The world is full of some really crazy notions. It ain’t all about these people being afraind of the unknown. It’s about them thinking they KNOW and behaving accordingly. This presents an uglier picture than the innocent ignorance you’re suggesting. Have you not come across, in your travels, people with some form of this warped kind of thinking? Hell, Hitler built an army around similar principles, and if you think these ideas were limited to the Third Reich, or the Bosnians, or the Black Muslims, or the Imperial Japanese…etc etc etc, then I’m afraid you might be just a little out of touch

  27. Shapeshifter aka RedDog 17 September 2011 at 6:19 am Permalink

    Firstly, a hi to Loco. Have not commented since the early days, and tried to link you in Yokohama when I was in Japan, didn’t get a response.

    Anyway, these days I normally steer away from racial discussions for various reasons, but wanted to contribute mainly because of the sad responses to that Korean Youtube video, and the hurtful experiences I read here.

    Before I proceed, some context. I am of Black-British or African-Caribbean origin. Like many, my family moved to the “Mother country” from the Caribbean to help rebuild the nation after the war (WW2). If anyone’s noted the recent riots across Britain, then you will see we’ve been on a journey since we’ve arrived.

    As a boy growing up in the UK, I’ve had my face kicked in from an adult racist thug, whilst a muscle-bound black dude with his white girlfriend looked on. Chased with knives, iron pipes, and motor-bike chains by white gangs, and been discouraged at school in insidious ways by individual teachers, and experienced institutional racism on a professional level. Much of this overt racism I faced, in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Please note that the thugs I came across were not part of some far-right minority faction that the media likes to paint, but just ordinary guys who shared commonly held values at the time. Indeed, as Loco said, “…if you think these ideas were limited to the Third Reich, or the Bosnians, or the Black Muslims, or the Imperial Japanese…etc etc etc, then I’m afraid you might be just a little out of touch…”

    As I grew older living in multi-cultural London with a very cosmopolitan lifestyle, I deluded myself “at times”, that we had moved on, but the sentiment was only swept under the carpet of political correctness and the new “multi-culturalism”. Also, my less frequent encounters with racial violence, may have had more to do with my new physical size as an adult, rather than any social progress. Indeed, black women, have told me on occassion, that although I may still be a target of “institutional racism”, they felt that I would be less subject to more aggressive or blatant episodes of racism, as people were much more careful how they expressed themselves towards a 6 ft plus black male, as oppose to a black female. Of course, it is far more complex than this, and we can argue that similarly, black women may enjoy less institutional or general racism, as they may be seen as less threatening.

    Having worked in post-apartheid South Africa, witnessed the realities of the caste system in India, the legacy of slavery in Jamaica, effects of Spanish colonialism in Spain, and finally the attitudes of the so-called shy Japanese in Japan, I think I’ve got a fair handle on discrimination in its various forms. I haven’t room to tell all the stories here, that’s for some lazy bar over a whisky, but one incident that opened my “enlightened eyes” was one in Osaka a few years ago. I had agreed to meet a potential private English language student near Hankyu Umeda station for an intoructory lesson. She was an educated professional in her mid-thirties. When I arrived, I noted that she appeared slightly nervous. I asked her what was wrong, and she started to question me on my background. I told her I was from London, as I said in our emails, she said no you’re not, where are you from, really. I realised that this was not the normal question you get from non-blacks, such as “yeah yeah I know London, but where are your people from.” Or, “you don’t have a British accent”. This was going to be something similar to what I experienced once before, with another Japanese student. In short, she proceeded to call me a liar, and said there is no way I was British, as her British friends didn’t look like me. I asked her, if she ever lived in the UK, she said no, and went on to state that I was some kind of pick-up artist, due to my dress-code (smart casual jeans and 3/4 length cotton jacket with shirt) which she felt was what I’d where to the club later where I would pick-up more girls, and my choice of location, which just happened to be the nearest Tulley’s coffee branch to Umeda station. I was shocked to say the least, but after 2 year’s in Japan, I managed to remain calm. I told her calmly that many people would find her comments extremely offensive, at which point she herself became very offended by the fact I would insinuate that she was racist. She tried to underline this point with the fact that her live-in boyfriend was Nigerian. Privately, I pitied her boyfriend, but told her, I think she should have a very serious conversation with him.

    What I learned from that episode and many similar others in Japan, was that no matter how you presented yourself, no matter what your actions may be over time, if the other holds pre-conceived notions and perceptions of you, then there is almost nothing you can do to dispel them. Although, I had considered this aspect of racism before, it forced me to revisit this different perspective. The fact that someone may hold a very specific world-view that is based on fairly shaky evidence, and maintain this world-view without critique or question. Then to be confronted with a reality that challenges and risks shattering this, maybe this creates a degree of discomfort for such individuals as they do not want their notion of reality to be challenged. Let’s call it the Hugh Grant or Notting Hill syndrome. Notting Hill, London to many Japanese is very upper middle class white and affluent, with people living there just like in the film. Whereas in reality, Notting Hill has been one of the most multi-cultural areas in Britain, and holds the largest street carnival in Europe. When I asked some Japanese people from London, I met in Barcelona recently, if they had been to the carnival yet, they said they had never heard of it before, and said they wanted to watch the film before they actually visited the area. I demanded that they just go there and enjoy the experience and forget the film for now. It’s just amazing how people programme themselves. We could relate these anecdotes to Loco’s notion of people “…thinking they KNOW and behaving accordingly. This presents an uglier picture than the innocent ignorance…”

    I’ll end as I’ve gone on far too long. But just want to say that despite all my experiences on this planet, I still try to maintain a positive outlook about things. Admittedly, Japan forced me to revisit some attitudes I thought were dead and buried, and similarly my recent experience in Spain has done the same. But I would have to contend that discrimination in different places has different roots. These two providing a good example in the variety of sources.

    As for us as black people, particularly those born in West or within the grasp of colonialism, we may not be able to influence the attitudes of others at all times, but we can aim to master and influence our own thoughts and perceptions, and thus negate any external negative influences. Being in Jamaica right now I’ll end with the words from Brother Bob……

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds.”

    Peace

    • Will 17 September 2011 at 10:24 pm Permalink

      Shapeshifter: Thanks for taking the time…didn’t think you’d gone on too long at all. Living a life without critique or question doesn’t sound much like a life to me. The discomfort that comes from oscillating between what we are used to and that which we are not…that seems to be the space where the ‘magic’ can really happen.
      I am in Japan and have experienced what I understand to be frustration/anger/resentment that was directed at me because I didn’t play the part and ‘know my place’ as an outsider. And only recently have I found a forum where people are more or less willing to attempt to articulate their thoughts on these kind of issues (mainly thanks to Loco and crew).
      Notions of reality…somehow I feel like people are missing out on life when they won’t “just go there and enjoy the experience” for what it is.
      May your stay in Jamaica be pleasant.

      • Shapeshifter aka RedDog 2 October 2011 at 9:26 pm Permalink

        @Will. Thanks for the sentiments man, and hope you’ve been able to find your groove in Japan.

        Although I had a lifetime of facing discrimination, I cannot say whether or not it made my experiences in Japan any easier, but I suppose it gave me a foundation to draw upon.

        I feel my main point/s is that all different locations have different histories and we cannot expect to impose our own values or standards upon our hosts. More importantly if we are to face discrimination, then we must ensure that we don’t allow others to shape “our reality”.

        Peace all….

  28. old hippie 23 September 2011 at 11:03 am Permalink

    Loco, that was probably the most powerful bit of writing I’ve read in a long time. I’m white, my wife is part American Indian, our daughter is married to a wonderful man of hispanic decent, and my son is married to a beautiful woman from Zimbabwe. Should I disown my grandchildren?
    UM… that ain’t gonna happen.

  29. Shapeshifter aka RedDog 29 September 2011 at 9:23 am Permalink

    @Will. Thanks for the sentiments man, and hope you’ve been able to find your groove in Japan.

    Although I had a lifetime of facing discrimination, I cannot say whether or not it made my experiences in Japan any easier, but I suppose it gave me a foundation to draw upon.

    I feel my main point/s is that all different locations have different histories and we cannot expect to impose our own values or standards upon our hosts. More importantly if we are to face discrimination, then we must ensure that we don’t allow others to shape “our reality”.

    Peace all….


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