23 July 2017 ~ Comments Off on Who’s Teaching the History and Diversity of “Blackness” in Japan?

Who’s Teaching the History and Diversity of “Blackness” in Japan?

#BlackEye is Back! Previously Black Eye has brought you several series. The first (a three parter) on maintaining identity in Japan. The 2nd was another three-parter on Jamaicans in Japan. The 3rd was yet another 3 parter on Black Women with Japanese husbands. Starting this summer I’m launching a new series on the people tasked with introducing and disseminating “blackness” here in Japan, and it will likely run a bit longer than 3 parts, cuz there’s a GREAT deal to cover, a great many voices to be heard.

If you’re told a falsehood often enough it’s bound to take hold.

If your experience is similar to mine, then you’ve heard (from both Japanese and others, as well) “we don’t know anything about black people” as a rationalization for all kinds of foolishness, offensive statements and behaviors, to the point of normalizing that statement. Maybe you’ve even heard yourself saying it to others, or worse, to yourself!

In my 13 years here its frequency hasn’t diminished a smidgen. So, it’s clear that unless this is addressed the situation will worsen because, despite the overuse of that statement, it’s clear to anyone who lives here that a contradiction exists. There certainly IS a narrative about “blackness” that abounds, resulting from misinformation, mis-education and a tendency toward oversimplification.


What isn’t clear however is that there is also a REAL history, a story that isn’t being spread as widely as the foolishness. A story that begs to be promulgated.

Since its inception, #BlackEye has endeavoured to do just that, but Black Eye is far from alone in this undertaking. Any non-Japanese here, to an extent, is tasked as well with being a voice from the “outer world” on a more personal basis, with varying results. But fortunately there are professional educators here, anthropologists, historians, sociologists, etc (of African and Japanese descent) who’ve also assumed the mantle.

In the coming weeks Black Eye will introduce some of these scholars and their scholarly approach to this crucial undertaking of disseminating “blackness” in Japan.

Here’s an excerpt:

Any conspicuous non-Japanese living here knows that whatever your occupation may be, in the minds of many Japanese outside of your circle of friends and family, you’ll always be moonlighting as that. First and foremost, your primary and perpetual occupation is that of representative of the outside world. And, particularly in the case of black people, where the knowledge of our vast diversity is sorely limited (encapsulated in the convenient and reductive label: “kokujin”), our behavior and attributes will invariably be attached to anyone who even vaguely resembles a “kokujin” and amended to the list of stereotypes and presumptions already floating around about our ilk.


As an unofficial envoy of all things un-Japanese, you won’t have perks like diplomatic immunity, but you will be granted substantial influence and presented with incalculable opportunities to educate our hosts…or mis-educate them, as it were. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a cafe or bar straining not to overhear some emissary of a non-Asian persuasion diffusing disparaging propaganda like it’s indisputable fact. And I’m positive anyone harboring any delusions of racial supremacy sitting in earshot of this here conscripted ambassador of global blackness has heard some language that’s gotten their dander up, as well.

For the rest of the story, click here:


I think you will be surprised and enlightened by the host of people I have lined up thus far for this series. And I hope you guys will give this series your full-throated support.  I mean, this is what it’s all about, deshou? Not just here in Japan, but around the globe: making sure our stories are told properly by people vested in not only the best interests of “blackness” but in the best interests of progress, deshou!


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