19 September 2017 ~ Comments Off on Talking About THIS Japan???

Talking About THIS Japan???

Just wanted to take a moment out to say thank you all for your support of this little enterprise of mine known as Black Eye.

When I started Black Eye back in 2014, I only knew one thing for certain: Our stories — the stories of people of African descent living here in Japan — the triumphs and failures, joys and pains, our voices needed to be heard. That, in this way, we’d be given a dimension, agency, that was sorely lacking.

I learned long ago that something as important as a voice can NEVER be taken for granted. I was taught as a child that we must define ourselves, name ourselves and speak for ourselves, or others will speak for us…and if we allow that to happen then there’s no one to blame for the often resulting misrepresentations but ourselves. Sure, our stories wind up in the media here from time to time, but wayyyyy more often than not, it’s not our voices telling the story.

             I’ze Married Now!

Some people might think who tells the story is not so important, as long as they get it right. Hell, Steven Spielberg did a pretty good job with The Color Purple, didn’t he? I well up every time I watch it! (“God is tryin’ tuh tell yuh something!” “I’ze married now…I said, I’ze married now!”) And who’s to say Martin Scorsese or Sofia Coppola couldn’t have gotten “13” or “Daughters of the dust” or “Boys in da Hood” right. Right?

However, here in Japan, in the major media, it simply wasn’t happening…and I believe our image was being hurt by the absence of our voices, and tarnished by those who told our stories for us. So I made it my business to remedy that as best I could.

It hasn’t been easy. In fact it’s been far more difficult than I anticipated.

You see, before I started Black Eye, I was a decade in-country, and had already formed pretty firm ideas of what it means to be black in Japan — had even published a couple of books to illustrate them. Besides, over the years, I’d encountered numerous black people whose ideas about Japan were not aligned with mine.

                         You Talking about THIS Japan??? 

In fact, that was part of the reason I felt it was important to talk with these people and share their ideas with the masses. Not only would this be proof-positive that pigeonholing “blackness” was imprudent but perhaps I’d learn something along the way I didn’t yet know; some truths about Japan that were somehow eluding my eyes, or some truths about me that blinded me to certain aspects of Japan.

Well, what do you know? That’s exactly what happens, month after month. Even from the people whose ideas are in alignment with my own, I generally learn something invigorating and hopeful. Black Eye has been the consummate win-win, a very rewarding experience all around.

I won’t say my views on life in Japan have experienced a polar shift in the three years since its launch. But I can say that I’ve acquired some insight into how other minds process the realities here. And these insights have broadened the criteria by which I measure not only life in Japan, but life as a whole. and that has made a world of difference.

And, for those of you who have joined me on this journey, it has been my hope that you have had a similar experience. I’m very proud of the work done so far and will endeavor to continue bringing the stories you won’t find anywhere else, to keep tackling the critical issues, profiling the well-known and little-known newsmakers, and shining a much-deserved, much needed light on black life in Japan.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support!

You may or may not be aware, there is a hecka-archive of Black Eye articles!

Yep, #BlackEye has been going strong for three years now, and we’ve got the archive to prove it!

So, check them out. Let me know which were your favorites. Tell me what you’d like to see more of, or less of.

I’m all ears. After all, Black Eye is for you!


Best regards,

Baye M



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