The Black Experience Japan.
Link to the Interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKMn9L6BAOc&t=464s
I had more on this part in the video. When I was speaking on my identity crisis, I wanted to share that being black meaning a certain thing, and being Japanese meaning a certain thing is a type of mind set I had obtained from living in the states.
That, when people would ask me what am I and I, first, wouldn't have an answer because it was the first time I had thought I guess of that concept.
But from learning how there are black people, white people, and many ethnic groups and races, I found out that I fit in the black community (easy).
The problem was, that other black people would tell me that I am not black, because of the way that I talk, mainly because of the way I behave.
So, to me, that meant I have to talk and act like the other brothers and sisters who are black, and if not then I'm not a part of them.
With that said, the only thing left I had to say was that I was raised in Japan (perhaps that will make them stop asking me aggressively right?), nope.
Then they would say "you don't look Japanese, why are you lying?" "So you're telling me you speak Chinese, speak it!", and things like that.
From multiple incidents of that, I concluded to the fact that
"I had to act like other black people around me to be black, if I'm going to claim it" = I have to throw out my background and fact that I just came from Japan.
"I can't say I'm from Japan" = I don't look like it = I have to look like where I am from, at all times.
Having to have to conform into that mindset in the midst of adjusting was a very very hard time for me.
Because I don't fit into either criteria perfectly, I feel like everything I one knew and was confident about was ripped apart. Obviously I wasn't confident enough allowing people from left and right to make me think twice about myself.
[as a side note, I think I let anyone tell me anything and believing it because, me moving to the states, I am getting used to the surroundings, observing and taking in everything that is happening, which included everything that people were saying]
Turns out, my dad was in Japan for 3 MONTHS, not 3 weeks. Apparently, there was a course my dad was taking at his university, where it would be a three month study abroad program doing missionary work (at the time my dad attended Harding University).
That would be an interesting conversation; talking about my parents' culture shock coming to Japan. For the first time being called Americans, and foreigners, and not black.
It would be good to mention that I heard my brother was bullied a little bit in elementary school. I don't know much in detail and haven't talked about it much, but I personally didn't go through getting bullied in Japan.
Feeling like a foreigner was never a negative thing for me. I think moving to America I realized that being a foreigner and being called a foreigner can be seen as a negative thing, where perhaps one is seen as an alien from society.
In my case, I claimed that I was a foreigner because my parents were a foreigner, and I was their child, in which biologically makes me a foreigner, no brainer.
But I never felt left out because I am a foreigner, but rather, I felt special. That, I am different from everyone around me, which makes me unique.
The term 'black' as an identity, was new to me moving to the states. Not that I have never heard of it before, because it does exist in Japanese.
But in English, it seemed to me that the term 'black' is something no one wanted to be, and that people got offended for being called that (mind you, this was sometime after 2011), and I didn't understand why, and what was so wrong with being black that people took to heart an get frustrated about.
That's what I mean when I say I learned about 'black', the culture, the stereotype, the labels in which society has attached them to the term.
"A lot of people *in America* didn't perceive as black"
I knew that slavery had occurred in America, and I had thought it might have to do with my ancestors, but I didn't realize for one, is how relevant to today with injustice and discrimination within society, although slavery was abolished close to 150 years ago. And two, similar to the previous statement, I thought we had moved on from that phase, and I guess I didn't realize how inhumane slavery was, to think how much of a big deal slavery was.
Identity: "I think categorizing *a fellow human* can be more *detrimental* from one another"
"I feel like with identity, it comes with *definitions, of assets in which makes you suitable to that identity*"
I believe this really shows the Japanese culture side of me, where, it is a discomfort to have strangers approach me and talk to me. This aligns with foreigners going to Japan and feeling like Japanese people are cold, and even I was told a few times when I moved to the states.
Being black in Japan: People touching my hair and touching my skin was no problem to me, because, that act in and of itself was not me being discriminated against. It was just curiosity of my features. So, it made me feel special in a sense that, I have something other people don't have, which makes me incomparable with others. Thus, because I had never been discriminated or made fun of before, I didn't take that experience as something to be offended by in any way.
The reason why I say it is an accomplishment moving out of the states, is because, it was my ultimate goal to move back to Japan, ever since my mom told me that we have no plans of moving back to Japan (I thought the initial plan was to be in America for just a few months). As things got exponentially worse being in America, the feeling of wanting to move back to Japan has grown equally exponential. A lot of the decisions I made towards the end of me being in America, revolved around that I would do anything to go back. So when I finally did, yes, I felt like that was a huge accomplishment of mine.
Let me know what your thoughts ~