by Takuan Amaru
It seems people have concerns over the term “Melanin-Rich.” Let me assure you there is nothing spiteful about AfroAsiatic. Whenever a person speaks truth to power, it inevitably ruffles feathers. Think about it: if the system governing the world is called ‘white supremacy’ (I didn’t name it that), common sense tells you anything which does not hail western society will be looked upon with suspicion. That’s the programming.
Melanin is a magical substance which comes in many colors but its most potent variation is black. Although it’s been a frequently studied subject in laboratories worldwide, it has only come to the attention of the public in the last decade. Dr. Richard King, Dr. Carol Barnes, Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, and Dr. Jewel Pookrum have provided books and lectures illustrating the properties of melanin. However, far beyond the hue of one’s skin, the term “Melanin-Rich” describes a state of consciousness and a level of spirituality. For more on this, please check-out the AfroAsiatic Perspectives blog on the 3 Types of People.
Now onto foreigners in Japan.
I posted a video on my facebook page by a white guy who lives in Saitama City, near Tokyo. He claims most of the white guys in Japan are basically losers in their own countries. He provides a few examples which illustrate his opinion. He goes hard on Caucasians but has fairly nice things to say about blacks in Japan. So allow me to put-in my two-cents from the black side of the conversation. Please keep in mind this is an over-simplified attempt to categorize.
First and foremost, lots of corny cats…a lot! It’s pretty much the same story the white dude said about Caucasians. Some of these guys are good people at heart, but they’re trying to pretend they’re someone they’re not. So if you’re doing the club-trek in Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka you’re bound to meet a plethora of wack Hip Hop emcees and fake music producers and singers. And this ‘Pan-African corniness’ crosses all borders. I’ll never forget the time I entered the restroom at a club called “Harlem” in Tokyo. The only unoccupied urinal was situated between two guys who were conversing while they relieved themselves. Both were black. One guy was telling the other dude he was from New York City in a strong Nigerian accent. Even though I recognized the accent, nothing seemed strange because there are lots of Nigerians in NYC. Most of the girls who used to cornrow my hair were Nigerian.
“Where’re you from?” the guy from NY asked me once I had unzipped.
Although this question usually annoys me, I was happy to talk about the ‘good ol days.’ “I ain’t really from nowhere,” I answered in my usual evasive way but careful to use a friendly tone. “But back in the day, I used to kick-it Uptown…in Manhattan. You said you’re from the City, right?”
“No, I’m from umm…Queens,” he said suddenly sounding flat.
“Oh word?” I continued, still eager to join the conversation. “I used to date a girl from Corona,” I replied. “What part of Queens you from?”
“I gotta go, man. It was nice talking to you.” With that, the tall Yoruba man zipped-up, flushed, and walked away.
I later found out the guy had never been to the U.S.
More than a few of the Japanese girls who frequent the dance club scene only want to date genuine black guys from the States; and of course the big cities (LA, Chicago, NYC) are most in demand. Oh, and Jamaica for the Reggae crowd. For this reason, there are whole crews of guys from various parts of Africa posing as Jamaicans or Americans. Lots of these dudes are street entrepreneurs and they moonlight as club regulars. So if you’re the ‘Real McCoy’ you might encounter some African hostility being vented your way for apparently no reason. To them not only are you stepping on ‘their corner’ your very presence could have the effect of blowing their cover, so to speak.
The Africans who have legitimate businesses are just like anyone else so it’s not possible to categorize them; but the academic student is easy to finger. Colonized, Christian, and docile. They see Japan and western society as heaven, and sneer at their own customs, especially African spirituality. There are exceptions to the rule but the overall consensus is a European mind in an African body. Case in point, one beautiful sister from Kenya broke my heart at a recent function when she suggested Africans were brought into civilization by Europeans. Not only was she speaking in a matter of fact tone, she actually recommended I watch a movie which poked fun at Africa prior to its colonization. In her words, “It takes place before the Europeans arrived…before they civilized us.”
In parts of Japan, there are large populations of Brazilians or Koreans. There are also considerable Peruvians, Chinese, Indians and Arabs. To my knowledge, the only groups large enough to have their own residential districts are Brazilians and Koreans. Oh, and we cannot forget the “Burakumin.” These are the traditional low-caste of Japan. Nippon’s version of the “Untouchables,” in Kansai, this discrimination continues to thrive albeit on subtle levels. In any case, since the castaways are able to blend into the larger society these days, it may just be a matter of time before this situation irons itself out.
As far as whites are concerned, for me, they’re a non-factor. Although white supremacy is in full effect, just like curry and ramen (which also have been imported to Japan through cultural booms), it’s been ‘Japanified.’ Believe it or not, for many Japanese a black guy is the same as a white guy. That pays dividends for blacks in many ways. For example in a job interview. Or, can you imagine not being racially profiled by the cops? Even if you are questioned, if you’re from the US (and not from Brazil, for example), you’ll more-often-than-not be sent on your way following a short, polite conversation…especially if you don’t speak a lot of Japanese! This was the case about ten nights ago when I was stopped for running a red-light. For the record, this was the first and only time I’ve ever been pulled over. And I’ve been driving all over Japan for almost a decade. Now, in most countries, a black man sporting locs dreads this moment. And for good reason because he might get beat up, arrested, or even lose his life! Well not in Nagoya. Three minutes later, I drove away after being issued a friendly warning. No asinine questions about drugs, weapons, or warrants, I can’t emphasize how nice it is to be treated like a human being…which means not being treated like a criminal (i.e. as in the US).
When I started working in Japan, I made a concerted effort to avoid Caucasians. This lasted for about four years. At that time, I blamed individual whites for the ills of society. It took a while but after much study and reflection, I realized the average European was just as naive and uninformed as anyone else. They’re just riding a wave that provides them good opportunities for no other reason than being Caucasian. What would anyone in a similarly favorable situation do? Not take the job?
Whenever I encounter Europeans at the train station or in the streets, it is amusing to watch them deal with being pointed at and scrutinized. Tuffy Rhodes, a pro baseball player who crushed homers for years with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Yomiuri Giants, clowned a white teammate who tried to convince him that all Japanese were racists. “Now you know how it feels to be black,” Rhodes replied as he walked out the locker room.
The white guy from Saitama City I mentioned earlier illustrates the white baseball player’s sentiment to a tee. In the video, he talks about how Japanese treat him disrespectfully. I know what he’s talking about but if you think about it, it’s just the ego screaming for recognition and respect. Once I stopped taking myself so seriously, I stopped getting the “foreigner treatment.” One thing about Japanese culture and its people: it (they) are very, very consistent in almost every way. Therefore if you master the culture—meaning make it your own—Japanese people have no choice but to treat you as Japanese. I’m suggesting a level of being that may not be attainable by everyone. Whether black, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian or even white, to achieve this the person must be able to tap in. Tap into what you ask? Tap into your melanin-richness. More on this in future episodes of the Japan Series…thank you!