08 July 2015 ~ 69 Comments

An Open Letter to Japanese People from Black Men (日本人の皆んなさんへの黒人からの手紙)

The following is a guest post from a fellow black man living in Japan who goes by the name of Miles Star. I like what he has to say. I thought, since it’s in Japanese as well, I’d get my Japanese friends to take a peek and share their thoughts on it.

I also thought to ask him about my sharing it with you guys, and he agreed.

So without further ado, here is Miles Star’s letter to Japanese people on behalf of black men.

ところで英語バージョンの下に日本語バージョンあります↓

________________________

Dear Japanese people, during our times in Japan we respect the warmth and hospitality many of you give to us. We understand it’s within Japanese culture to be polite and reserve any ill thoughts you may have. For that you have our respect.
I understand many of us like all foreign men in general have our own flaws; some of us may act foolish, ignorant, narcissistic and just plain dicks. However, we too have our fair share of grievances we want to get off our chests.

 

black men 1a

We may choose not to speak up to these microaggressions because we understand many of you are ignorant of their impacts, we may want to maintain peace with you and not sour our friendships with you.
Here is an extensive list of annoyances and grievances we experience. You may also find that some black men do not react or react positively to them. Please understand these things are generally NOT PREFERRED and are all no-nos in formal situations. Furthermore, we understand some of these are not done out of ill thoughts, however I stress that you acknowledge them and avoid them at all costs.

1. Don’t befriend or date us in an attempt to be different or unique compared to your peers. We are people not accessories

2. Don’t befriend or date us expecting to be taught English. There’s a place called “school” and many of us get paid to do this.

3. Don’t tell me I look like Obama, Bobby or any other black celebrities you can only count on one hand. Most of the time we don’t resemble them.

4. Stop singing about how much you love black people. Yes, yes…we get it, you love WHAT WE DO and HOW WE LOOK not WHO WE ARE. However, it gets uncomfortable and we’d prefer if you focus on the person standing in front of you and their qualities. We are not all the same.

5. Don’t tell me I’m fit or strong because I am black. No. I worked hard for this body, I practiced endlessly in this sport. Do not belittle my efforts. Perhaps if you put in the effort yourself you’d be singing a different tune 

6. Don’t compliment me followed by “because you’re black/a foreigner”. Should I even have to explain this?

7. Do not ask me if I like or possess any weed or any other illegal drug. Stereotyping black people as having illegal drugs or partake in any other illegal activity is racist. Being constantly asked the same thing by people in our own countries by white kids, police and security guards is extremely degrading and frustrating at the same time. Thousands of miles east and we still get the same shit!?

8. Please don’t tell me you want to be black. This is not a compliment. You aren’t black, you will never be black and your reasons are always stupid or childish. We are not a magical subset of humans born with innate rhythm or spiritual nature. Love yourself please.

9. Please stop praising black people by / while putting down your own.

10. Please don’t touch my hair without asking. We are not animals.

11. Stop worshiping black men or women’s bodies while shaming your own. It’s cringe-worthy. Love yourself or do something about it.

12. Stop trying to imitate black women in an attempt to impress us. If we wanted one, we wouldn’t come to you.

13. Don’t assume we can rap. We don’t all share the same talents.

14. Don’t assume we can play basketball. See above

15. Don’t assume we can dance. See above

16. Please do not fetishize us and our bodies. It’s dehumanising and racist. We are people not objects

17. What you call ブラックカルチャーand B系 are only a very small fraction of what we do. I suggest you find better names for these trends. The majority of black people in the world are disconnected from these things.

18. Don’t say nigga even if your friend allows you to. Just don’t. You will say it to the wrong person and it will not be pretty.

19. Don’t make assumptions of our nationality based on our looks or colour of our skin (America, Jamaica or Africa is all you ever think of). You will find us almost anywhere in the world.

20. Dont assume we are all attracted to one specific body type in women.

21. Don’t assume black people are poor. You have no idea. Turn off the television.

22. Don’t assume all Africans are starving and need saving. You have no idea.

23. Don’t assume all black people are heterosexual.

24. Don’t assume we are hyper sexual. Turn off the television

25. Don’t assume black men rape. Please turn off the television

26. Don’t assume black bodies more than others; somehow carry HIV or other STIs/diseases. For the love of God please turn off the television!

27. Don’t stare at black people’s dicks in public bathhouse. There’s nothing to see here.

28. Don’t assume all black people have big dicks. Do not set yourself up for disappointment.

29. Don’t date blacks because you wanna “try” or “know what it’s like”. Only to grow tired of us, throw us away and try something new like a fashion trend.

30. Don’t make it sound like Africa is a country or make a comparison between African continent and a country (ex. Africa vs. Japan). There are 54 countries and well over 2000 different ethnic groups and languages in the continent. You have no idea.

 

africa950

 

31. Don’t use words like dope, swag, gangsta in an attempt to connect with us. We don’t all understand them and we don’t all speak the same.

32. Do not assume what music we listen to. We do not all like hip-hop, R&B and reggae.
33. There is not one specific way to look “black”. We come in all shades and different features.

34. Getting braids, perming your hair kinky/curly or wearing urban styled clothes or any other styles emulating black people does not make you closer to us in our eyes.

 

Screenshot-from-2014-04-17-115752

35. Do not poke fun at our features, lips, skin colour or hair. It’s disrespectful and extremely childish. Furthermore, it only shows how ignorant you are of the wider world

36. Do not liken our skin to chocolate or any other coloured substances


Please understand this is not an attack, just an informative body of information that you can use to better understand and get along with us. This is not oversensitivity, this is about respecting something black people in general have constantly been denied. Many of us must endure and cringe at these things and just accept them as the norm in Japan. Many of us try our best to acknowledge the dos and don’ts of Japan in order to not cause offence as we too have our own.
Most of these things (and many other harsher ones) are experienced in our home countries where we are also minorities; where racism persists.

Please Japanese people take this information and share it with any others who have black acquaintances, the friends of yours that obsess over “black culture”. Please know the difference between appreciation and appropriation, Love and fetishisation.
I implore you too to write a similar letter to those you wish would understand you better.
Speak up and don’t assume you have no voice
Peace, love and respect

two books 3d

For two of the most recommended books on life in Japan, Click HERE!

 

在日黒人男性から日本人へのオープンレター

日本人の方々へ

私達に暖かく、優しく接してくださり感謝しています。礼儀正しく、自制に重きを置く日本の文化を、私達は尊敬しています。 おバカ、無神経、ナルシスト、イヤな奴…などなど、欠点も少なくない我々外国人男性ですが、私達にも不平不満はあります。あなた方が自分の行動の影響に無知だと知っているからこそ言わなかったり、あなた方との友情を壊したくないから言えなかったりすることです。 これは、私達黒人が経験するいらだちや不平を並べたリストです。もちろんあなた達がわざと、悪い意図を持って行っている行為ではないと分かっていますが、極力避けてほしいことです。

1. 人と違うことや、友人とくらべて個性的でありたいがために黒人と友達になったり、恋人関係にならないこと。

2. 英語を教わるために黒人と友達になったり恋人関係にならないこと。仕事として「学校」という場所で英語を教えているプロもいるのです。

3. オバマやボビー、その他あなたが片手で数えられる位しか知らない黒人有名人に似ていると言わないこと。似ていない場合がほとんどです。

4. 黒人が大好きだと訴えてこないこと。黒人の行動や見た目が好きなだけで、黒人自身を好きな訳ではないのでしょう。不快な気持ちになります。あなたの目の前に立っている人と、その人の性格と向き合ってください。皆それぞれ違うんだから。

5. 黒人だから良い体型だねとか、強いと言わないこと。この体を作り上げた私の甚大な努力を無碍(むげ)にしないでください。あなたも努力したら、違う発言になるかもしれませんよ。

6. 褒めるときに「黒人/外国人だから」と付け足さないこと。説明する程のことでしょうか?

7. 私がマリファナや他の違法ドラッグを好きか、あるいは所持しているか聞かないこと。黒人が違法ドラッグを所持していたり、他の違法行為に及んでいると決めつけるのは人種差別です。母国でも、白人の子供や警察、セキュリティガード達に同じ質問をされますが、かなり不名誉でストレスが貯まる経験です。何千マイルも離れたこの地で同じことを経験するとは!

8. 黒人になりたいと言わないこと。褒め言葉ではありません。あなたは黒人ではないし、黒人には一生なれないし、しかも黒人になりたい理由がおバカで子供っぽいことが多い。黒人は、内なるリズムやスピリチュアリティを持って生まれた特別な人間ではありません。お願いですから自分のことを愛してください。

9. 自分の人種をおとしめて黒人を褒めないこと。

10. 聞く前から私達の髪の毛をさわらないこと。私達は動物ではありません。

11. 自分の人種をけなしながら黒人男性や女性の体を褒めないこと。気持ち悪いです。自分のことを愛してください。

12. 黒人を魅了するために黒人の女性をマネしないこと。黒人の女性が好みだったら、そもそもあなたを選びません。

13. ラップできると決めつけないこと。黒人皆に同じ才能がある訳ではありません。

14. バスケットボールがうまいと決めつけないこと。理由は上記。

15. ダンスがうまいと決めつけないこと。理由は上記。

16. 黒人や黒人の体のフェチにならないこと。それはモノ扱いだし、人種差別です。黒人はモノではなく、人です。

17. あなた方が「ブラックカルチャー」や「B系」と呼ぶものは、黒人文化のごく一部です。他の名前をつけた方がいいかもしれませんね。世界中の黒人の過半数は、それらと関わりがない生活を送っています。

18. 友達にいいよと言われても、ニガーと言わないこと。ダメなものはダメ。ある日、大変なことになりますよ。

19. 黒人の見た目や肌の色で国籍を決めつけないこと(アメリカ、ジャマイカ、アフリカしか知らないようですが)。黒人は世界中どこにでもいます。

20. 好みのタイプが黒人は皆同じだと決めつけないこと。

21. 黒人は貧乏だと決めつけないこと。あなたが無知なだけ。テレビを消して。

22. アフリカ人は皆飢餓で苦しみ、救いを求めていると決めつけないこと。あなたが無知なだけ。

23. 黒人は全員、異性愛者だと決めつけないこと。

24. 黒人はセックス好きと決めつけないこと。テレビを消して。

25. 黒人は強姦魔と決めつけないこと。テレビを消してください。

26. 他の人とくらべて黒人はHIVや他の性感染症や病気を持っている可能性が高いと決めつけないこと。本当にお願いだからテレビを消してくれ!

27. 公共浴場で黒人のペニスをジロジロ見ないでください。何も見るものはありません。

28. 黒人は皆ペニスが大きいと決めつけないこと。ガッカリしますよ。

29. 「試してみたい」「どんな感じか知りたい」ために黒人と付き合わないこと。流行ファッションみたいに、飽きたらポイっと捨てて新しいモノへ走るのはわかっています。

30. アフリカを国とみなしたり、アフリカ大陸と国との対比をしないこと(例:アフリカと日本の対比など)。アフリカ大陸には54ヵ国と2000以上の民族と言語が存在します。あなたが無知なだけ。

31. 黒人と繋がるために「Dope(ドープ)」「Swag(スワグ)」「Gangsta(ギャングスタ)」等の言葉を使わないこと。黒人全員がその言葉を理解するわけでも、同じ言葉を喋るわけではありません。

32. 音楽の趣味を決めつけないこと。黒人全員がヒップホップ、R&Bやレゲエを好きなわけではありません。

33. 単一的な「黒人」の見た目はありません。肌の色も体の部位も多様です。

34. あなたが黒人に似せるためにブレイズをしたり、アフロやスパイラルにしたり、頭におしゃれな布を巻いたりしても、黒人に似ているとは思いません。

35. 黒人の唇、肌の色、髪の毛やその他 黒人の体の部位をネタにして笑わないでこと。失礼だし、究極にガキです。しかも、あなたがどれだけ世界のことに無知か知らしめているだけですよ。

36. 黒人の肌の色をチョコレートやその他の黒っぽいモノに例えないこと。 —

black men 2a

これは攻撃ではなく、あなた方と私達がもっとお互いを理解し、友情を深めるための情報です。私達が過剰に反応しているのではなく、これは、黒人がずっと否定されてきた部分を尊重してもらうためのものなのです。私達の多くは、これらを経験して気分を害しても、これが普通だと受け入れるしかないのです。上記の多く(そしてもっと酷い場合も多い)は、黒人が少数派である国や人種差別がはびこる国でも同じように経験されているものです。 日本の方々、この情報を黒人の知人がいる人や、「ブラックカルチャー」に没頭している友人にシェアしてください。「アプリシエーション(感謝)」と「アプロプリエーション(私有化)」の違い、「愛」と「フェチ」の違いを理解してください。

Peace, love and respect

milesstar

和訳:Mai Ok

Big shout out to Miles for taking the time to put to words what many black people would like to say to Japanese people at one time or another during our stay here, and for letting me share this with my readers. And Miles would like to give a big shout out to Mai Ok for her translation work and for providing some Japanese people’s perspectives.

Great job both of you!

Loco

 Two of the most recommended books

on life on the lovely

island of Japan are:

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69 Responses to “An Open Letter to Japanese People from Black Men (日本人の皆んなさんへの黒人からの手紙)”

  1. OsakaTraveler 8 July 2015 at 10:57 pm Permalink

    Some of these seem to be givens for appropriate social behaviors (regardless of country), but others make the author seem like he wants black people to be treated with kid-gloves. Seems like referencing anything that could infer the person you’re speaking with is black ends up being a micro-aggression.

    • YellowBird 8 July 2015 at 11:35 pm Permalink

      Genuinely curious which one of these you think implies that black people should be ‘treated with kid’gloves’?

      • Yuugo 10 July 2015 at 11:22 pm Permalink

        “3. Don’t tell me I look like Obama, Bobby or any other black celebrities you can only count on one hand. Most of the time we don’t resemble them.”

        That one for exemple, i’m a Half japanese and i look mostly white . Whatever your skin color you’ll end up compared to any celebrities that share your skin color. And it’s not just in Japan, in my other country once people know i’m hqlf jqpanese they’ll say i look like bruce lee or shit like that.
        Appart from that a loot of the problems on the list seems to be common to all foreigner or percived as being one.

        • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 9:10 am Permalink

          Whatever your skin color you’ll end up compared to any celebrities that share your skin color.

          I’m not entirely sure that’s true (for example, I’m white and the only celebrity/character I’ve been compared to is Starbuck from the new BSG series, and that had very little to do with us both being white… unlike saying to every black person that they look like Obama and every asian person that they look like Bruce Lee or whatever), but even if you are 100% right about it… that’s still super racist.

          And, really, that is the point of most of this list. Racial microagressions don’t just happen to black people, but the person writing this is a black man and so that’s what he focused on. It’s not asking to be treated with “kid gloves”, it’s asking people to start thinking about how their actions contribute to their environment and for them to stop being so racist.

          • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 9:11 am Permalink

            Dangit, I forgot this blog strips blockquote tags… that first sentence was supposed to be a quote. Sorry for the comment fail.

          • Yuugo 14 July 2015 at 2:04 pm Permalink

            Sorry maybe i have to disagree, or i wasn’t clear enough on my point “but others make the author seem like he wants black people to be treated with kid-gloves”
            There are from my of course partial, point of view stuff that are just plain normal, and to be expected in any countries that doesn’t really have to do anything on this list.
            For exemple “Don’t befriend or date us expecting to be taught English”. Oh boy you don’t know the amount of people trying to befriend you to learn some little japanese in European countries. Those kind of things are just the bad etiquette or manners of some idiots. It doesn’t really go well with the rather serious other griverances made against the Japanese in this list.
            I must admit i reacted maybe to harshly because of the phrasing of the “An Open Letter to the Japanese People” like if all of us were ignorant racist a-holes, who go on and touch people faces and hair without permission.

          • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 10:05 pm Permalink

            “I must admit i reacted maybe to harshly because of the phrasing of the ‘An Open Letter to the Japanese People’ like if all of us were ignorant racist a-holes, who go on and touch people faces and hair without permission.”

            Given this and what you said about the list including things that seem trivial alongside things that seem serious (to you; everyone has their own personal barometer for these things), I’m wondering if some of it isn’t a problem with terminology.

            “Microagressions”, by definition, include problems that–when looked at in isolation–seem harmless or not a big deal, but when it happens over and over again it starts FEELING like a big deal for some people and having a serious emotional impact. I often hear it being compared to “death by a thousand paper cuts”. The befriending/dating someone to learn their language is actually a good example of that. If it happens once, it’s at worst a case of bad manners. Three or four times, it’s kind of annoying. But when it’s almost EVERYONE you date, it often stops being a trivial problem and starts causing tangible emotional harm to your life. Microagressions aren’t always big problems for everyone, but because they happen so frequently they ARE big problems for SOME people, and that’s why they get included in open letters.

            Which brings me to the second point: the Open Letter phenomenon. A wise person once said: “If you’re not the problem, then you’re not the problem”, and that philosophy is very much in play for Open Letters and PSAs (stands for Public Service Announcement). This letter is basically a long-wided saying, “Hey, Japanese people, IF you do any of this stuff, please don’t! It’s upsetting to a lot of black men!” If you don’t do the behaviors and wouldn’t ever think they were OK, then the letter isn’t aimed at you.

            The Open Letter/PSA format is specifically written for the well-meaning people who DO engage in some of the problematic behavior. It’s to give people who ARE ignorant of the impact of those behaviors, through no fault of their own, a way to learn to better match their words and actions with their intentions (in this case, their intentions to befriend black people and respect the people and their culture). No one is expected to know everything about everything, which is why open letters like these exist.

            Open Letters/PSAs only work because they assume that most people of the target audience AREN’T a-holes, and are doing stuff because they’ve been taught (by society, Hollywood, newspapers, etc etc etc) that they SHOULD act that way. Believe me, the actual ignorant racist a-holes who read this will get absolutely nothing out of it (Exhibit A: Christopher Kirkwood), and I can bet you that Miles Star wouldn’t have spent his precious time writing the letter if he thought Japan was inhabited only–or even primarily–by ignorant racist a-holes. People who write Open Letters do it because they believe that their target audience can, and want to, do everything in their power NOT to be an ignorant racist/sexist/etc a-hole.

            Anyway, discussions like this are always tough because not everyone is coming from the same knowledge base. I know my comment is quite wordy, but I hope I’ve helped to give you an idea of where some of the stuff in the open letter is coming from.

  2. Yummy 8 July 2015 at 11:10 pm Permalink

    8. の訳、「  」の箇所が違っています。 You ではなく We です。―― 「あなたは」、内なるリズムやスピリチュアリティを持って生まれた特別な人間ではありません。

    以上。Reply のコメントとして、載せないでください。(^-^*)♪

  3. Warren 8 July 2015 at 11:30 pm Permalink

    This is so true in everyway, except “BLACK” I have lived here for 25 years and have dealt and still do deal with the BS. But, Why is that it`s a Black man only that is being treated disrespectfully? Speak for all Humans too all Humans

    • Some Guy 9 July 2015 at 2:07 am Permalink

      He’s writing from his perspective and experiences as a black man. I’ve had some different, some negative and some positive, experiences as a foreigner here, and this list made me consider writing my own. Maybe you should write your own. Many of his experiences don’t apply to me–for instance, no one stares at my penis in bath houses the way I’ve seen people do to black men. Many others, like having someone attempt to date me in order to be taught English, I have experienced.

      Anyways different people different lists different experiences. Don’t be mad at him for not writing from your perspective, write your own thing.

      • Miles 9 July 2015 at 11:27 am Permalink

        Its actually a collection of experiences by various people. Black and half black people I have spoken to. So this whole list isn’t one pissed off black man.

        Some of the things on here are ones that I have not experienced and some are ones that personally do not bother. However, they are all genuine and real grievances felt by real people therefore are all genuine and valid.

        The criticism I’ve received so far are people thinking many of these are not a big deal(to them). I have chosen to list out a long list of micro-aggressions I barely have scratched the surface in racism in Japan and Im fully aware there are way more insidious problems out there. If anyone is interested in these things I suggest reading John G Russells works. There’s barely any literature out there about anti-blackness in Japan.

        This is just a easy to understand list for Japanese people to keep note of with their interactions with Black people. Its a start.

    • alex warhead 9 July 2015 at 10:11 pm Permalink

      christ sake, warren. i’ve lived in japan for 10 years as a white, american male. but if you’re so BLIND to realize that the black experience in japan (and asia in general) is vastly more racially insensitive then you are beyond help. it also makes me think you’ve never actually spoken to a black person in japan. the whole “we are all humans” pseudo egalitarian bs is infuriating. if you’re white in rural japan (or hey, tokyo) you’ve never had someone walk up to you in public, silently, and start rubbing your head. you’ve never had anyone call you “honkey” or whatever passes a “edgy/racist” for “white” in your native tongue. you’ve never had anyone walk up to you and try to speak “urban” english or show off there baggy attire to show you how “down” they are. yea, that stuff happens and it’s embarrassing.
      you’ve never been “fetishized” to this extent. no gal wearing gap, abercrombie, or polo has ever approached you to tell you how much she loves “white culture” and wishes she were white so she could sing like celine dion. or that she had a “white body” so she could look like helen hunt. you’ve never had a young man approach you to tell you how much he enjoys tuna casserole and thinks that john stewart provides a “nuanced approach to the modern american dilemma”.
      yes, all foreigners of obviously different ethnicity experience some level of this in japan. but NO WHERE near to the extent that black folks do. “white” is the “norm” for foreigners in japan. black is super exotic/dangerous/taboo. for you to completely ignore that earns you a kick in the rear.

      • Joe 14 July 2015 at 9:08 am Permalink

        Really?

        You think white people have never had Japanese come up to them and say they wish they were white? Sure, darker skinned people have a rougher time in Japan, but exactly the same shit happens to lighter skinned people too. Just not as often. I’ve personally had that shit and I’m white. Not that they want to sing like Celine Dion though, it’s other stupid crap like ‘being a banker’ or ‘Being born in a western country’ etc etc. I have heard people say they wish they were white so they could be like Cold Play. Not every white person listens to Cold Play.

        I’ve even had people say that they wanted a white partner because half casts are cute. Another once said that they wanted to marry a particular country’s citizen because it was the easiest way to live in that particular country.

        Everything that was written here, happens to other races too. Even Asians in a western country cop the same shit. Never assume something never happens to another person when you have absolutely no facts to back up the assumption. You could take this entire post and change just a few words and it would be “An open letter to Japanese people from a white man”

        Get off your pedestal.

  4. RY 9 July 2015 at 1:04 am Permalink

    Well, I see why you share this with us, I’m Japanese, having lived for years in France and one of the African countries. I think nobody can really avoid this kind of perspective, or clichés. And when you are the object of these discourses, you naturally feel a kind of discriminated or demeaned. I have also these similar experiences for so many times when I was abroad. Yes, we can contest against this, maybe we should, however you should never forget that you are nothing but “other” for the people who are (socially – physically) different from you. It’s not the story only about the black people, it’s for all who are not homogeneous with others in their community. You yourself set a subject of this letter as the black, this discourse even leads to expand a sort of discriminations for the black people in Japan. You are in Japan, so you know the Japanese, their culture or style, but how could it be possible for Japanese who have grown up in this homogenous society to have a proper image for you and your origin? You should not ask us something with “Don’t” for everybody like this letter.

    • Crs 9 July 2015 at 2:39 am Permalink

      Damn ! exactly what I thought reading the letter. Actually, most of the “aggressions” that are felt are only curiosity or ignorance – a “don’t” never resolve these matters. I did meet 2 kinds of douches in japan, the ones that want to be seen (real douches) and the ones that don’t want to be seen (i was in this category myself 🙂 ) : very big mistake indeed, in a foreign country, you are a foreigner, simply as this.
      More precisely : speaking of body ; “Do not belittle my efforts. Perhaps if you put in the effort yourself you’d be singing a different tune ” : typical misunderstanding of japanese thinking.
      “Love yourself or do something about it.” good, another misunderstanding of japanese thinking,
      and so on… Anyway, good luck to you 🙂

      • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 9:37 am Permalink

        Two things:
        1) Microagressions (and bigotry in general) aren’t defined by the intent of the person engaging in them. A whole lot of bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc) is done in ignorance with no bad intentions; that doesn’t make it any less harmful to the people who have to deal with it.

        2) “Don’t” lists actually DO make a difference. For people who are doing it out of ignorance and genuinely don’t want to hurt people, “don’t” lists clearly outline for us what some reoccurring problem behaviors are, which lets us avoid them in the future. “Don’t” lists like these are what taught me that black women constantly get white people touching/asking to touch their hair and so doing so is rude, and same goes for pregnant women and people touching their belly. Without lists like these, it’s possible that I would have done something like that and, through my ignorance, caused emotional harm–however minor–to someone. Ignorance may be an explanation, but with lists like these readily available on the internet it can’t be an excuse–at least not for people like me who actually care about the people around them.

    • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 9:27 am Permalink

      “You yourself set a subject of this letter as the black, this discourse even leads to expand a sort of discriminations for the black people in Japan.”

      Wait… am I reading this right? Did you just say that talking about racism makes racism worse? Because NOT talking about racism makes it worse; if we don’t talk about problems they will never be fixed. I mean, when you have cancer do you believe that going to the doctor and getting treatment makes it worse? I doubt it. TALKING about societal problems is like going to the doctor. It means that people–people like me who don’t want to victimize marginalized people–are able to learn from our mistakes and find ways to be supportive of the people around us.

      I mean, maybe you are content with being a racist a-hole, but I actually want to live my life as a decent human being who doesn’t hurt others through her own ignorance. And I know for a fact that there are many Japanese people who feel the same as I do.

    • Jeffrey 28 July 2015 at 4:14 am Permalink

      I stop reading the list after about the first seven requests as they apply equally to haku-jin from NA, Western Europe or Australia and New Zealand.

      While to be sure there is an additional stigma or burden, if you will, to being black in Japan, first and foremost you are a gaijin. Further, few of the blacks you see in Japan are from the NA or Europe. The majority are from Africa and as such pretty much most of this list is off the mark, no?

  5. Liliput 9 July 2015 at 2:37 am Permalink

    This in no way justifies or mitigates the rightful feelings of offense that African/American folks in Japan encounter daily, but I blame Hollywood and Western media for perpetuating these stereotypes. Unfortunately, for most Japanese, that is the closest they get to being around other cultures and it’s a real credit this this author for being patient and kind enough to write this out in Japan and explain it. (Also, wow – wish I were that fluent!)

  6. Missus 9 July 2015 at 3:58 am Permalink

    Every immigrant that comes to any country goes through that because we stand out in that country. Lived in the US for 15 years and I get almost the same comments you get for being a foreigner. Unfortunately, a great deal of people will continue doing this for their lack of exposure or research about other countries and people. I’m happy when people want to learn my language though and ask me for help- I always thought that was a nice conversation chatter and exchange of culture moment. All I gotta say pick you fights wisely and don’t nitpick- obviously go angry when it’s outrageously offensive but there are some things you’re mentioning you and I can’t help. If I’m wrong, well, I’m wrong or too passive but it’s what I have experienced and how I dealt with it in a country with more cultures living than Japan but having almost the same experiences as yours.

  7. Big Bill 9 July 2015 at 4:05 am Permalink

    What makes you think that any Japanese give a rat’s @ss what hurts the feelings of a typical imperialist American visitor?

  8. Davis 9 July 2015 at 7:31 am Permalink

    You know, this needs to b sent to people in the U.S. as much as in Japan.

  9. DarcNoodles 9 July 2015 at 9:54 am Permalink

    37: Stop assuming that Africans are all Black (Because I know you ignored point 30)

    38: African Americans are 1: Not Africans, 2: Neither is Hip Hop/Rap culture (though it has come to Africa and has been adapted to suit the continent). Being african does not automagically mean I like rap, can rap, want to rap, care about it’s existence. (this might be a personal peeve)

    39: No it’s not hot Africa. (Read 30. Read it again… and one more time)

    40: Read 30 again.

    • MikeyMike 9 July 2015 at 3:23 pm Permalink

      1. African Americans ARE Africans; they’re Africans displaced in America. It’s foolish to disconnect the two, even though some African Americans do so, but in an attempt to distance themselves from what has been portrayed negatively throughout history. 2. Hip Hop/Rap is a direct descendant from the mother country. The drums, and ‘tweets’ and rhythm all came from African music through a music journey of old hymns, blues, jazz, and finally to Hip-hop then rap (not in chronological order). Google the founders of hip-hop (Africa Bambataa, etc.)

      Another point is… If you are of European/Asian/etc. descent living in Africa, that does not make you African. Why is Africa the only place you can find people of other historical ethnicities trying to be African? You can’t lay claim to a land that your people never had (even if they stole it, and forced the host people to integrate with you; after they imposed hateful legislature like Apartheid) This is for those European-‘South Africans.’ If an Asian man in France can’t say he’s European, then a European in Nigeria has no such right either. FOH.

      This is how you can tell some people don’t know jack squat about history/herstory of hip-hop/rap or of African American history.

      • OsakaTraveler 9 July 2015 at 10:08 pm Permalink

        Your first argument doesn’t really hold up. Yes, originally the first black people in America were displaced Africans. Then slavery was banned, black men gained the right to vote… then women gained the right to vote… etc. There are people in America… RIGHT NOW… that had to come to the country because their houses were destroyed in wars, families were killed and more. That is called displacement. How entitled do you have to be to consider black Americans displaced?

        Jeez. First world problems. Having people want to touch your hair. Can you imagine going to Africa and interviewing someone about their most pressing problems and them replying “Oh, life is pretty good… but these damn MICRO-AGGRESSIONS. My life would be perfect if people would just respect exactly how I want to be talked to”. Get real. There are actual war-zones. Children are being taken. Women are being raped. I’m sure black people in Africa really feel a kindredness with their American counterparts, I can really see the similarities in quality of life.

        • MikeyMike 9 July 2015 at 10:43 pm Permalink

          And this is where, once again, ignorance breaks through. The ignorance that all of Africa is a war-zone, the ignorance that its a shithole. OsakaTraveler I can see the extent of your travels were to, at the very most, Osaka. Take some advice from the author and “TURN OFF THE TV” If I’m wrong then hey, you got me.

          “There are people in America… RIGHT NOW… that had to come to the country because their houses were destroyed in wars, families were killed and more. That is called displacement.”
          Gee whizz, doesn’t this sound like slavery? Not only were those Africans dropped off in America, but Jamaica, South America, and all over the Americas. To understand the present, you have to study history, son. But I bet you’re one of those guys who would say, “It happened 100s of years ago, get over it!” Yeah, tell me about those First World Problems…

          • OsakaTraveler 10 July 2015 at 9:25 pm Permalink

            I will admit, you are very skilled at hearing what you want from people’s arguments. Never said that all of Africa is a shit hole. Of course it isn’t. But I don’t think you have to look very far to see the truth: life isn’t that great for the majority of human life there. The continent’s life expectancy is a very low 59 years old (m/f) and 9 out of the 10 countries with the lowest life expectancy can be found there. Hmm… If you REALLY cared about black issues maybe you would be doing something to help the people who are most in need. But you, like many other Western people, are fine ignoring the problems people are facing there and continue to focus on racially divisive arguments on how you need to be treated in order to be happy.

            The fact of the matter is the people who are doing most for those who have black or brown skin / African heritage are not the ones complaining about micro aggressions. Not the ones unhappy that they move to a foreign country and people want to touch their hair. Not the ones who have the freedom to live abroad, but have to be told that their muscular physique makes people jealous. No, the people who are actually helping are researching HIV/AIDS cures and treatments, seeking to broker peace within Africa and trying to put limits on international powers seeking to exploit the continent.

            How we need to face these problems is to join together. To let people touch us and understand our differences. To touch others and gain greater insight into who they are. This is how humans learn. Lack of knowledge breeds ignorance and putting up walled gardens around each race and posting rules outside about how to enjoy the flowers within does nothing but alienate neighbor from neighbor.

  10. Mal 9 July 2015 at 2:49 pm Permalink

    I agree with most of the points here albeit the tone is a bit negative. But yeah, 8 & 11, definitely show a lack of understanding of Asian culture. Our way of complimenting people involves putting down ourselves. It’s meant to be a show of humility and respect for the other person as well as a way to lighten the situation. We don’t actually hate ourselves when we say it because we don’t take ourselves that seriously. Obviously, in Western cultures where the individual is serious business, this practice doesn’t translate and people assume that we’re groveling.

    Other than that, I agree that the perspective most Asian countries have of Black, Brown and White people is immature and relies heavily on stereotypes. I have a gay black friend who lives in Seoul and gets spit on regularly. When I was in China, grandmas would introduce their children to random blonde white men because you know, whites are superior or something. There’s a better example of what Asian self hate looks like.

    • Miles 9 July 2015 at 3:44 pm Permalink

      Hi Mal,
      in regards to 8 and 11. You have a point in regards to them putting themselves down. Many times I have heard things like wow “Miles you are so cool!” I would reply “you too!” which they would quickly deny. This is the cultural expression you are referring to I assume?

      What influenced 8,9 and 11 were conversations where I would hear Japanese girls fetishize black women. With comments such as “Black women are so beautiful and sexy with big asses!” followed by something a long the lines of Japanese girls are skinny and have flat asses …followed by I wish I was black or had X black feature.
      The same goes for Japanese women who fawn over black males while putting down Japanese men(physiques, mannerisms, features etc).

      Putting down themselves to uplift others may be Japanese culture but if it has to come to the point of fetishizing, generalizing black bodies and body shaming their own I believe we should be allowed to have a say.
      Of course I can think of many black individuals who would eat up this kind of attention. I frankly prefer staying humble.

      • Odd 11 July 2015 at 5:16 pm Permalink

        A few things. I’m ethnic Japanese, born and raised in Japan. I have traveled to, lived in, and worked in a few countries, where blacks are the majority. These experiences include living and working in Zambia, living and working in South Africa, business in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania. I have also worked for a few black expats in Japan.

        A lot of the things mentioned in this list, are not at all unique to Japan, or Asia. They are really just harmless displays of ignorance, and in most cases, the person does not realize there is a generalization on their part, or that a generalization may be wrong, let alone offensive.

        But let me put this to you. Japanese overseas deal with the exact same thing. You can go anywhere in the world, and you will find people who are wide-eyed at meeting a Japanese person, and want to ‘befriend’ you just so they can have a ‘Japanese friend’.

        You mention Japanese who state an envy for the black body. Working in Africa, it was very common for black people to run their fingers through my hair, remarking on the straightness and thickness of it, and saying they wished they had Asian hair.

        We suffer generalizations too. People love the aesthetics of our culture without understanding it. People assume we are serious and hard working, and don’t know how to have fun. People assume we’re at a physical disadvantage. You have Japanese saying “Ah, you’re so good at basketball. Black’s really are athletic.” meanwhile, I have blacks saying “Ah, you’re so good at math. Asians are so smart.”

        Blacks routinely put down their own too. Oh Japan is so wonderful, this would never work in Africa, because we aren’t as cultured.

        You mention B-kei culture. I don’t think any modern culture has been more caricatured than Japanime. In every country I have spent any length of time in, I have been asked about manga and anime which I haven’t even heard of.

        Japanese assume black people are from Africa, and Africans are poor. In every African country I have been to, blacks have assumed I am rich, because I’m Japanese. Oh, they assume Japanese all have small dicks too, and some have been pleasantly surprised.

        The point is, you see things other people don’t, because you’ve been to many places, and seen diversity. So have I. But the majority of Japanese have not known enough black people to know that there is much diversity even among blacks. In the same way, most black people haven’t met enough East Asians to know that there is much diversity, even among Japanese.

        Most of the time, I find the ‘I want to be something I’m not’ folks are young people that don’t feel loved and accepted within their own culture. They feel they don’t belong, and are desperate to be accepted by another group of people. They are often young and inexperienced, and thus ignorant. They mean well.

        • Miles 12 July 2015 at 12:31 pm Permalink

          I fully understand the reverse happens. Saying “we face it too from you guys” should not be a criticism. I’ve heard it so many times.
          Many of the Japanese people who have responded positively to this list and share it have experienced stereotypes in other countries while travelling so they understand where we are coming from. Those who haven’t experienced it may feel this is incessant nagging.

          I encouraged Japanese people in my conclusion to speak out and do the same.

          Asian women are stereotyped to seem submissive, obedient and outspoken, Asian men are constantly emasculated, their bodies and penises are shamed by others.
          If we don’t speak out how will others learn?

          It shouldn’t be a bad thing that people speak out against stereotypes (positive and negative ones). I didn’t mention more serious forms of discrimination in Japan as I felt challenging basic stereotypes would be a start and easier for Japanese readers to digest.

        • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 9:48 am Permalink

          I don’t want to wade too far into this comment, but I had to address this:
          “They are really just harmless displays of ignorance, and in most cases, the person does not realize there is a generalization on their part, or that a generalization may be wrong, let alone offensive.”

          The whole point of lists like this is to point out that this stuff DOES cause harm to some people so, by definition, it’s NOT “harmless”. Like, just because YOU don’t feel/see harm in stuff like that, doesn’t mean that other people don’t? If one person is harmed by something, no matter how slight that harm may be (or seem to you), then you can’t call it “harmless”.

  11. Martin Luther 9 July 2015 at 2:59 pm Permalink

    Sad to say but stereotypes is common for good reason. It doesn’t help that virtually the entire continent of Africa is a basket case. Not a single African nation does not function without some level of foreign aid. Virtually every nation that people of African descendent have populated is having problems with crimes and poverty – Haiti and America. Only a very few African Americans make it to the top – and that’s due to their involvement in the entertainment or sports industry. The majority are poor and uneducated. Other ethnic groups have migrated to America under similar horrible conditions – the Vietnamese refugees for example. Do you hear them complain? Its best to think about that for awhile rather than blame others.

    • MikeyMike 9 July 2015 at 5:00 pm Permalink

      There is never a good reason for stereotypes. The entire continent of Africa is a basket case because of many reasons: 1. Europe colonized the continent and left it in shambles after they left, but continue to colonize it through neo-imperialism. With this new imperialism, the states don’t have to directly control a state in Africa like it did with old school imperialism. They control it through business, politics, etc. 2. The drawn borders of states in Africa. Many of these borders didn’t exist before the colonization of Africa, and now they create tensions between ethnic groups in certain nations. 3. This foreign aid you speak ok, is basically extortion of resources. Do you foolishly believe the World Bank and IMF are giving these countries aid without wanting something in return ‘Martin Luther’? Other aid could be medical, etc. but we’ve seen in the past how Europe and America likes to treat Africans–AIDS, Syphilis experiments, and the most recent, Ebola. Africa is a petri dish for the world.

      These are just a few reasons. I’m not saying blaming others is what Africans/people of African descent should do; on the contrary, they should learn from these mistakes and never make them again. Other nations have never entered Africa with the intention to help the people.

      So go buy yourself a book before you make uninformed, unintelligent, ignorant blanket statements about a continent that can fit the U.S. and Europe inside of it and has room for more.

      Another note is if you think Africa is such a basket case, then why are there so many foreign companies and countries trying to suck it dry of its natural resources? #TheRICHESTcontinentonEarth and I’m not even African.

      • Derek Wildstar 10 July 2015 at 10:13 pm Permalink

        Mikey Mike, here’s an example from recent history that is going to completely destroy your feeble excuse that all of Africa’s miseries and woes stem from European colonialism. Japan was COMPLETELY demolished in WWII. Every one of their major cities was damaged or destroyed by American bombing! As bad as European colonialism was in Africa, there is NOTHING that compares to the devastation experienced by the Japanese. But after the war, the Japanese did not sit on their asses, blaming “whitey” for what they had done to the Japanese people. No, they put on their big boy pants and got busy rebuilding their cities, They ACCEPTED Americas generous help to rebuild their nation with GRATITUDE! Today, Japan stands as one of the most prosperous and advanced nations in the WORLD! More importantly, the Japanese people are our friends and staunchest allies. If you think that America and the world have never done the same for Africa you are QUITE mistaken! The WORLD has invested TRILLIONS in aid to Africa over the years, only to see it misused by corrupt AFRICAN dictators who then turn and spit back in our faces, blaming all the ills and problems of their nations on European colonialism that ended a HUNDRED YEARS AGO!

        And Japan isn’t the ONLY nation that has recovered from this kind of devastation to become strong and prosperous nations. South Korea is ANOTHER such example. South Korea suffered many years of brutal Japanese colonialism and then had their nation UTTERLY destroyed by a devastating civil war but they TOO have become vastly wealthy, advanced and prosperous in only SIXTY or so years AFTER the war! Or how about India that suffered CENTURIES of British colonialism, who have recently launched their own space program and who lead the world in many high technology fields?

        I’m sorry but given these examples, the African nations need to find a more convincing excuse for their failures. And remember, Japan and South Korea didn’t HAVE the vast natural resources that MANY African nations possess, their success can only be attributed to the resourcefulness, ingenuity and industriousness of their hard working people. To illustrate what I’m saying, lets look at the example of Momofuku Ando, the man who created the global instant noodle industry. After WWII. rice was scarce in Japan due to the devastation suffered by the farming industry. The US donated a lot of surplus wheat to make up for the shortfall in rice harvests. Much of that wheat went to the production of noodles which inspired Ando to create a simple and economical way of making and enjoying Ramen at home for a busy and not so well-to-do Japanese populace. He created instant noodles and changed not only Japan but the entire WORLD. He was able to take that donation of wheat from America into an entire industry that continues to succeed many decades later.

        America and the rest of the developed world have given MUCH more aid to the nations of Africa over the years than we have EVER given Japan or South Korea. But it seems our aid is falling into a black hole (no pun intended)with NOTHING to show for it but a nasty attitude and accusations that their misery is OUR fault entirely. Here’s a newsflash…it isn’t.

        Africa was a basket case filled with corruption and powermad warlords BEFORE Europeans set foot on the continent and it continues to be so many decades AFTER colonialism ended. Every country governed by Africans is generally a corrupt, impoverished, disease ridden insane asylum that want to blame everyone else but themselves for their failures. And as long as they sit around blaming “whitey” for everything they will CONTINUE to live in misery.

        • MikeyMike 10 July 2015 at 11:57 pm Permalink

          Alright, I don’t have a lot of time but I want to say for fcks sake please read a history book. U.S. supported Japan right after WWII, Japan’s own constitution is a version of the U.S.’s. South Korea was also backed by the U.S. after the war. The U.S. wanted a stronghold in Asia and this is why they supported Japan and Korea’s restoration. The majority of Japanese people wanted the U.S. to get the hell out (see Tokyo 1960 riots).

          What you said about the dictators are true, though. However, like I mentioned before, the World Bank and the IMF have put many African countries in a state of perpetual dependence. Think of it as debt/welfare. These countries are forever in debt when they get loans from these assholes, and what do they do? Hold their resources hostage.

          Let’s not sit here and act like Japan and Korea got great because Americans were so giving, or that Japan was grateful. Or that Africans lack ingenuity, or drive. What you’re doing is looking at it from a present perspective.

          Don’t be stupid. There’s a reason why Africa is in the shape it is today. There’s a reason why Egypt’s government was overthrown, and why Ghaddafi was murdered by the CIA. And most African countries received their independence just 50~60 years ago, son. It took America 150+ years (with free slave labor) to become a “great” 1st-world country, to expect the same of African countries, that are basically getting screwed of by the rest of the world, is just plain stupid…

    • paul 9 July 2015 at 11:48 pm Permalink

      How Unintelligent of you to write all such nonsense
      i hope thing will change for Africa as soon as possible
      just wait and see!

  12. OBK 9 July 2015 at 3:16 pm Permalink

    Fantastic. But lets face it. An awful lot of “passes” are handed out by African American men to Japanese women which is why many continue not to understand why these are really indeed no-nos.

    If I could add (selfishly).

    — If someone tells you they are of African American ancestry please 1) believe them (I suppose someone might be pulling a Dolezal but generally) and 2) you don’t look or worse “act” black makes it worse.

    — if you say you like some aspects of black culture, fine. But please don’t assume your (or your particular black friend’s understanding of what black American culture is — really is the sum of this culture. Do you like to read James Baldwin Novels? Are you a fan of Henry O. Tanner? Are you infatuated with African American scientists? Or, do you like rap and other black popular culture things. Its fine, but no that is not the sum of black culture.

  13. Javier 9 July 2015 at 3:21 pm Permalink

    Most of this sounds more like an auto-flattery covered by the argument that you find it “disrespectful” or “inappropriate”. Most of black people keep arguing about finding everything racist and disrespectful, even about tiny ridiculous things that are more a simple joke and nothing else. MANY other people from other nationalities have been stereotyped as well and are way more relaxing about little jokes like those (including mine). Chill out, the whole world isn’t against you all the time black people.

    • MikeyMike 9 July 2015 at 4:41 pm Permalink

      Flattery? Your comment comes from the ignorant standpoint that most people take when they try to justify that things like this are ok. Just because black people refuse to say ‘yes’ to every image, stereotype, and other bs the world puts on, them doesn’t make them racist. You don’t mind being called ‘Chink’ or ‘Snowflake’ good for you. Don’t try to tell another peoples how they should carry themselves, though. These ‘little jokes’ have malignant and cruel undertones most of the time.

      I say this: if you wouldn’t say it to a group of blacks, whites, latinos, etc. then don’t think that just because you say it to your one or two ‘friends’ makes it ok.

      The author is making a point of the ignorance found in Japan when it comes to dealing with African Culture. Put the shoe on your culture’s ‘foot’ and then make a logical judgement.

      • Javier 10 July 2015 at 7:12 am Permalink

        Man, calm down, read my text again and think about what you’re saying again. I am latino, by the way, so I perfectly know how this feels like, I don’t have to put my shoe in anybody else’s foot. And i have been called by other offensive adjectives, even if they are not “chink” or “snowflake”. But that doesn’t make me agree with this black guy’s auto-flattery. He (and many more) is ridiculous. fCheers

        • Miles 12 July 2015 at 1:04 pm Permalink

          Hi Javier,
          It may come across as auto-flattery but I assure you it isn’t. Positive stereotypes are also a problem and are usually grounded in much more offensive ideas and even if they aren’t so what?
          As you are not black you are likely unaware of how these positive stereotypes are applied and their negative effects that can be followed.

          Also just because you’re fine with certain ones (that we may not even experience) doesn’t mean you have to put down other’s feelings. There are a number of things on here I personally do not have much of a problem with but that doesn’t mean I should tell that person that they should feel a certain way about it.

    • RDC 10 July 2015 at 4:52 am Permalink

      I felt the same way reading this. This is indeed a thinly veiled auto-flattery mixed with a healthy dose of hyper-sensitivity. I spent years living in Japan (white male) and I have witnessed all of the things which this post illustrates. All true. Thing is.. Japanese do it to me too; only I’m not offended by it.

      Help help, I’m being stereotyped. No, I don’t own guns because I come from Texas. Oh no, please don’t tell me I look like a famous person or compliment me for being muscular. Please don’t make jokes that my penis is probably bigger than your boyfriend’s, that would be terrible! Please, I’m not even that good looking!! Self-shaming is a distinctly Japanese cultural trait. Refresh yourself on the concept of honne and tatemae.

      Like it or not, you’re in their world. You’re probably there because you LIKE their culture, right? Don’t try to change it. There are places in the world where I believe I would not feel comfortable or accepted by the culture too. So I don’t go there. WHOA!!! WHAT DID HE SAY?!! I CAN’T GO TO JAPAN BECAUSE I’M BLACK?!! << No, not what I said, relax.

      Here's what you do if you want to enjoy Japan: learn the language, embrace the culture – even the bad parts. Don't dress like a thug and expect to be treated otherwise. Relish the attention you do get and impress the Japanese who approach you. Sooner or later you're going to start resenting other black people in Japan who give you a bad rap, because there are a lot of them.

      Be proud of being unique but also try to blend in, because that's what Japanese culture is about.

  14. Christopher Kirkwood 9 July 2015 at 10:44 pm Permalink

    The author here illustrates a kind of concrete essentialism. He reduces all Japanese to one personification based on every negative experience he could think of and he projects himself as the personification of the African diaspora. Neither of these assumptions are valid. Although I have no doubt that he is describing his frustration and personal experience the expositive utility of this exercise is very limited. When we project our limited experience on whole classes of people we are practicing racist essentialism. What I most enjoyed about thins piece is that the authors writing illustrates the same type of essentialist stereotyping he complains about. Its a bit like a snake swallowing its own tail.

    • Anonymouse 14 July 2015 at 10:03 am Permalink

      “Concrete essentialism”? Really, dude? This isn’t a college essay that you need to pad out with useless-but-intelligent-sounding phrases, so maybe cut down on the bombast when trying to make your point? You don’t sound smart; you sound like a patronizing jerk. Actually, given that you use the tired “no, YOU’RE the racist” silencing tactic, I should say a RACIST, patronizing jerk.

      I’m sorry that a black man trying to dialogue with Japanese people about the lived experiences of black men (and, to a lesser extent, all black people) in Japan makes you so uncomfortable that you have to try and shut him up with a poorly reasoned psuedo-academic comment. Honestly, if you genuinely believe that this open letter is tantamount to saying “ALL Japanese people do this! And ALL black people are upset by it!” (which is what all your babble about “personification” and “projecting” boils down to) then you need more of a lesson in reading comprehension than I could ever hope to give you in a comment thread.

  15. Thomas 10 July 2015 at 5:38 am Permalink

    Why don’t you stop telling people in their own country how to live?

    • Miles 12 July 2015 at 12:35 pm Permalink

      Telling them not to stereotype you is not telling someone how to live.

  16. Miles 10 July 2015 at 8:40 am Permalink

    Its an open letter. From the accounts of numerous black men.
    Its not intended to lump Japanese people together. If it doesn’t speak their experiences they know to move on. That’show its intended to be read. Many Japanese readers understand this and that’s why its making so many rounds in social media currently.
    The same goes for these same black men. Many of the things on the list dont necessarily apply to me either but because they were said by various black men they are genuine and therefore valid. Just because one black person doesn’t agree or hasn’t experienced it doesn’t mean its not worth writing down.
    I didn’t write this to silence views. Unfortunately I don’t have access to every black man in Japan if I did I’d write down every one however the longer the list the “bitchier it would come across.

    • REGISQ 11 July 2015 at 1:06 am Permalink

      Genuine question — are you an American?

      • Miles 12 July 2015 at 12:14 pm Permalink

        Im not an American I’m from the UK. However, a number of these are African American voices.

  17. Asian Gaijin 10 July 2015 at 9:59 am Permalink

    Interesting read.

    I understand where the writer is coming from and how frustrating Japanese behaviour must be after you have taken the time to adapt to them as much as you can (although limited because of your physical features). In return, it seems unfair that people look at you on the surface. Yes, it isn’t fair.

    Making this type of list highlights many things that Japanese people probably have never thought about, however, the tone and manner in which the writer have encapsulated all these points reinforces an important stereotype that the writer has forgotten to mention: That Japanese people assume that Black people are aggressive and unpredictable (As seen by the few guys very visible in Roppongi or Harajuku).

    Honest truth is that there are so few black people in Japan that most people will never ever meet one in person unless you live in a big city. Can we expect them all to be as culturally sensitive and courteous? Would black people in Africa or other countries do the same for Asians?

    At the end of the day, this is their country and we are a guest here. The responsibility to adapt lies on the guest and not the host. To point out your frustrations is important, but the way you do it is also important. Japanese become very defensive when confronted directly(example with the dolphin hunt in Taiji). I think if you changed the tone or format, but still listed the same points, it would be much more effective in pushing your points as being educational rather than confrontational.

    Just wonder how long the list would be for Asian Gaijins. But that is a different story.

  18. Miles 10 July 2015 at 2:01 pm Permalink

    If they really care they wont catch feelings about tone.

    • Toby 10 July 2015 at 10:21 pm Permalink

      I dont see why not. Tone always matters. Theres a difference between feeling like someone is engaging you on the level, and feeling like someone is shouting at you. Which do you think a person would be more responsive to?

  19. Roger 10 July 2015 at 6:47 pm Permalink

    I agree with all points I this list. You have my support.

  20. spool 10 July 2015 at 11:28 pm Permalink

    Miles,

    A couple of thoughts an American dude who has spent much of his life overseas (including a stint in Japan). Though many of your concerns are valid, your method of expression comes across as hostile. Commanding others to adopt a particular stance, behavior, or perspective only reinforces certain stereotypes about nationality, culture, and perhaps even race that you are attempting to dispel. Second, many of the experiences that you reference are common or similar to those most travelers experiences – and especially travelers whose racial features differ significantly from those of the dominant group – while visiting/working/living in a locale that has a relatively homogeneous population. This is particularly true in rural areas. For example, while living in rural Ghana, I could have easily commanded the locals, “don’t approach me and rub the hair on my forearms” or “don’t assume that all white people are rich and can thus ‘sponsor’ your life in the US”. However, accepting this curiosity as natural or discussing these concerns in a more friendly, understanding manner may prove more effective. Even in the US – a country whose diversity is perhaps unparalleled – many people who look different from the “dominant” white culture (quotes because white dominance, due to population trends, will soon be a memory) experience concerns and stereotypes similar to yours. Rather than take offense, a better option might be to recognize that many of these transgressions are not meant to be harmful or hurtful but are instead often due to a lack of intercultural exchange. The more you (we) do to dispel rather than reinforce these preconceptions at the individual level, the greater the likelihood that these preconceptions will be overcome.

  21. Masaki 11 July 2015 at 12:48 am Permalink

    I’m Japanese.

    Too much request.
    Impossible to remember.
    Japanese is not your host.
    We must care white and black.
    We must be polite Black and white.
    We must respect black and white.
    But too much is bad?
    I said many time “I love Jazz because respect black ”
    But I never say again.
    Yes that’s small parts of black.
    But you know small parts of Japan to.
    Japanese complained that ?
    And this sentence is stereotype of Japanese.
    I want to say “You never say again that to Japanese” !!
    “during our times in Japan we respect the warmth and hospitality many of you give to us. We understand it’s within Japanese culture to be polite and reserve any ill thoughts you may have. For that you have our respect.”
    That by personality.

    Who care the yellow?
    We are abandoned race?

    If you have your original talent people respect you naturally.
    But If you have nothing people feel you are just black who speak English.

    Japan has no-discrimination history because black not exist in Japan before meiji era.

    Never judge Japanese mind by western people standard !!!

    I want to say to writer of this article.

    • Lana 13 July 2015 at 1:17 am Permalink

      I hear you, Masaki. Should have stopped reading at the word “microaggressions”. None of these are. This article lacks any understanding of the Japanese culture and mentality. Many of those are just the way Japanese interact with everyone, not just blacks. All this aggressive demanding how they want to be treated is so obnoxious and self-centered, I cannot take it seriously, nor should any Japanese lose any sleep over it.

  22. TheGrandAdmiral 13 July 2015 at 7:23 am Permalink

    I am not Japanese, but a Black man that has spent time in Japan (and China). I have written a response which can be found on my blog (http://grandadmiralgame.blogspot.com/2015/07/re-open-letter-to-japanese-people-from.html).

    I hope that you enjoy it.

  23. James Cohen 14 July 2015 at 11:07 am Permalink

    If you don’t like Japan, you are more than welcome to leave.

    • Anonymouse 15 July 2015 at 8:12 pm Permalink

      Are you being serious? Because if you are, I feel sorry for you. How terrible it must be to live in a world where you’re not allowed to ever be upset about anything ever because that would mean that you “don’t like” it.

      Come to the real world, where human beings are allowed to have complicated feelings about complicated subjects. Believe me, you’ll be a lot happier once you realize that you can have complaints about something that you like and still like it!

  24. fsdklfj 16 July 2015 at 2:34 am Permalink

    > 27. Don’t stare at black people’s dicks in
    > public bathhouse. There’s nothing to see here.

    black people’s junk is well known over the whole world to on the larger side. Just count the number of black, white, and asian male porn starts with enormous members and you’ll see that there is some truth in a lot of stereotypes.

    In all seriousness, this request, like all the others is too much don’t do this, don’t do that. This isn’t a perfect world. Even as Japanese person living in Japan you will have experience a lot of annoyances throughout every day.

    As a foreigner, I feel that complaining about every small nuisance will just result in loosing credibility, which doesn’t help at all to the _real_ issues (i.e. legal framework that guarantees equality, equal job opportunities, housing discrimination).

    Aside from that, I just cannot take any text seriously that has the word “microaggression” in it.

    • Anonymouse 16 July 2015 at 8:07 pm Permalink

      “As a foreigner, I feel that complaining about every small nuisance will just result in loosing credibility, which doesn’t help at all to the _real_ issues (i.e. legal framework that guarantees equality, equal job opportunities, housing discrimination).”

      I really LOVE how people like you who use arguments like these are the ones who get to define what a REAL issue is. News flash: legal equality means NOTHING if it’s not backed up by social equality. Without social equality, all the legal equality in the world means shit because it’s not ever going to be enforced (see: the pay gap for women, people of color, non-straight people, disabled people, and other marginalized groups… for many of those groups it’s illegal to pay a person less and yet it still happens ALL THE TIME because “trivial” microagressions like the ones outlined in this Open Letter poison the attitudes of the people with power–bosses, judges, etc–and so they keep on doing exactly what they were doing before any of those laws were passed and getting away with it).

      Also, let me tell you a secret: fighting for equality on ALL fronts, not just the ones that Arbitrary Gatekeepers of What Is “REAL” like you decide are ok to talk about, doesn’t lose anyone any credibility. The people who say shit like “I WOULD be all for equality of [insert marginalized group here], but then I saw someone online complaining about trivial stuff and [x group] lost all credibility with me.”? THEY NEVER INTENDED TO SUPPORT YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE. The goal posts for what is a “real” issue to them will always be pushed back until the “equality” that they think you should be satisfied with is no different than the inequality that you have been dealing with all your life. Except it’s just been rebranded as “you can do [x thing that they think represents the totality of equality], why are you still complaining about [‘trivial’ thing that makes it harder for you to live your life]?”

      And if you think I sound angry? You bet your buttocks I am. I am marginalized on multiple fronts and have seen this pattern play out both offline and on for years. And I know plenty of people who have been alive longer than me who have had to deal with garbage like you are spouting for DECADES. All worrying about “credibility” does is slow down, and even reverse, the progress of equality.

      Let me tell you one thing, dude, if you are serious about not wanting to “lose credibility” then you need to stop trying to silence people who talk about the ways that they are oppressed, regardless of how you personally feel on the matter (and, while we’re at it, plz realize that you are not the sole arbiter of what counts as oppression). Because the only thing that hurts your chances of getting legal equality is dragging down the very activists who are fighting for meaningful legal AND social equality.

  25. コウ 16 July 2015 at 10:38 pm Permalink

     あなたの素直なご意見ありがとうございます。
    一日本人として感謝します。
    素直に、あなたには申し訳ないと思う。
    日本人はまだまだ黒人や白人など見た目でわかる外国人に慣れていない。
    あなたが日常で経験する不愉快な事を、理解できます。
    そして大変だろうなぁと、思います。
    でもあなたも理解していただいているようにそれは、悪気があってする
    ものではありません。
    それらは、好奇心であったり、あなたに魅力を感じていたり、
    ポジティブな動機がほとんどです。
    日本が、移民国家であるアメリカのようになるにはまだまだ時間がかかる
    と思います。
    大目に見ていただきたい、という言葉しかみつかりません。
    わたしたち日本人は、「礼儀正しい」と言われてはいますが、
    その実態は、全く違うものであるのかもしれません。
    言葉には決してしなくても、態度には出す、のが日本人ですよね。
    あなたのように不愉快な思いをしている外国人はたくさんいると思います。
    あなたの紳士的で建設的な批判を、一日本人として一人間として歓迎します。
    ありがとう。

    • Anonymouse 17 July 2015 at 10:17 am Permalink

      私はこの記事の作家さんではありませんが、
      コウさんのコメントを読んで気になったところが1点ありました。
      それは「悪気」のことです。

      このような手紙をよく見たり、書いた経験もありますので、
      「皆さんは悪気があって、こんな嫌なことをしている」と作家さんが信じて
      手紙を書いたのが伝わりやすいと思います。
      しかし、実は悪気を持っていないことをわかっているからこそ手紙を書きます。

      正直に言うと、悪気を持っている人が手紙を読んでも内容について
      何も考えてくれないので、そんな人をターゲットしたら意味がありません。
      でも、好奇心のなる人、魅力を感じている人などの
      ポジティブな動機を感じている人が手紙を読んだら、
      コウさんのように内容について深く考えてくれて、
      自分の知識や視野を広げようとします。
      そのようなすごい人が日本人の中にたくさんいると分かって、
      作家さんはこの手紙を書いたと思います。

  26. NateTheGreat 23 July 2015 at 6:17 am Permalink

    Dear God!! Now the people of Japn are being carefully tutored at how to properly c friends andomport themselves around thin-skinned African-Americans. I grew up in Compton in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and cannot begin to tell you how much black attitudes have changed. At that time, most African-Americans were much more approachable and if you were sincere and treated your black acquaintances as you treated everyone else, friendships grew and there was little or no animosity. There is so much African-American paranoia today that it is considered offensive to even menrion that you had a best friend who was black (I did–in Viet Nam).

    Over the years,American Academia, leftists govt policies and pofessional grievance mongers (Al Sharpon, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, etc) have created entire generations of black Americans to view ALL non-blacks as racists, potential threats and racial enemies. So, now you Japanese citizens have been so carefully instructed as how not to offend black, aggrieved Ameicans. With present policies in America, there is virtually no hope for racial harmony–so, welcome to racially charged America, my Japanese brothers and sisters.

    Over the years,

  27. Cela 9 November 2015 at 4:43 am Permalink

    Hello everyone! As a person who lived in Japan, I can understand where this list came from. While I was there I had great experiences, but some events that occured during that time were uncomfortable and sometimes negative. Having said that, I believe alot of those negative experiences were due to both myself and my Japanese co-workers not knowing some of the social cues.
    I also recognize, now, that some of my experiences were due to me ignore the situation. For me, what negative experiences I had in Japan was not as bad as what I experienced in other countries. Therefore I was less inclined to call people on it. Having said this, once I did make a statement, and the Japanese people involved understood my side of the story and corrected themselves.

  28. jenny 22 May 2016 at 1:12 pm Permalink

    THANK YOU JESUS!


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