So, I’m at this black networking function (little to my knowledge, I hadn’t gone there to network as such) in Tokyo, when a Japanese woman walks up to me and hands me this flyer.
I gave it a once over, during which my insides clenched up, looked her in the eye to see if she were straight spooky and whether I could safely have a drink there or should I be on high alert and wary of ruffies, or just the Japanese version of such, which amounts to oblivious (she was the latter) and then back at the flyer.
My eyes zoomed in on Hand and Job and I unleashed a smile involuntarily. I figured an English speaker had little to do with the making of this flyer. Then, of course, my eyes landed on the dark american saga of Jim Crow evoking Black People Only and I knew if there were an English speaker behind this chances are he wasn’t American.
Then I glanced around the room at the black faces in attendance to see if anyone else was holding a flyer with a perplexed expression on their face, but no one was.
I caught the eye of the event planner, who had apparently been watching me ever since the flyer was handed to me. He’d caught my brief smile apparently and gave me a look a little difficult to read, somewhere between “my name is Paul and that shit’s between y’all” and “WTF, right?” He seemed to know the chick and had been standing there when we introduced ourselves (she’d run up on me like I was the guest of honor), and so I assumed he must not have found the distribution of this flyer at his event problematic.
Which didn’t so much relax me as prompt me to resolve that this flyer was just the victim of poorly chosen wording and flawed thinking by ignorant people, but, minus any ill-intent, was fairly harmless, which is pretty much an accurate description of Japan itself. You come across so much of this type foolishness here that if you were to get hot and bothered over it all you’d be in a perpetual state of hot and bothered.
I extended this benefit of the doubt because I trusted the event planner.
His being black and sharp and a lifer here and all…
My insides were still clenched, though, picturing that brother on the flyer in a shirt and tie, sleeves rolled up, grinning and lounging, looking like he’s sitting on top of the world after a job well done. That image fucked with me. Didn’t seem to fit with what the flier was promoting. It’s not a Job. It’s 2 hours of Guinea Pigging.
I promptly folded the paper and put it in my pocket. I felt guilty doing so. Not even sure why. I mean, I wasn’t planning to cash in on it, was I? Just take this large Japanese power company’s money and let them conduct their tests on me? No, I wasn’t.
Pretty soon, though, I forgot all about it, for the networkers in attendance (all of whom I’d never met before but were clearly movers and shakers, and lifers, here in Japan) were some pretty interesting men and women. It was the most black people I’d been around at one time in Japan without a DJ, a bar, and a hundred enticingly clad Hiphop loving Japanese chicks around, in 9 years. That was a refreshing change.
Two days later I got a tweet from someone about this flyer, which reminded me of mine, sitting on my desk in a state of neglect. I must’ve been planning to use it for something but had no idea what. The tweet said:
I’m not crazy about being thought of as the Race guy or random people sending me tweets and emails about racism in Japan, but I guess I kinda opened that door by blogging and publishing so extensively about it, so I guess I’m reaping what I’ve sown.
I picked up the flier off my desk and looked at it again…
Still nothing came to me (which is pretty telling in itself).
So, another few days passed and I got a Facebook message from the Japanese woman who had originally given me the flier! She was following up…she clearly had a strong interest in finding black people to do this thing. I figure she gets a commission for each head she brings them.
So, 30 more people means 270 black people in Japan have signed on for this?!!
If you’re reading this, you 270+ black people, Loco, and perhaps some of his readers, are curious to know a few things, if you care to share…
I’d like to know how was the experience, what happened exactly (tell me as much as you can, from arrival to departure), what did you expect to happen, how were you treated, what did you think of the ad that got you there, etc…
You can remain anonymous if you prefer. If you’re shy, just send me an email at: loco (at) locoinyokohama (dot) com
I’ll be discreet.
I don’t wanna say more just yet. I’m looking into what exactly Hand Recognition is, how it can/will be used, and how race /ethnicity may or may not play a part in this application. I’ve read one paper published on this technology but it was clearly written for someone with a brain more scientifically leaning than mine.
If any of my readers can shed some light on this, in layman terms, or know someone who can, let us know. I’d like to think all the participants in this sampling are not completely in the dark about what they’ve gotten themselves into, but you never know. 8000 yen is enough to get some people to shrug their shoulders and say what have I got to lose?
I know I have in my tenure here.
Thanks in advance,