Black Experiences Of Contemporary Japan

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Chapter 2: Black Experiences in Contemporary Japan The very definition of ‘blackness’ is as broad as that of ‘whiteness,’ yet we’re seemingly always trying to find a specific, limited definition.—Issa Rae Although perceptions of blackness have changed considerably over time, immutable factors remain ensnared within it’s’ transformation. Many of these factors can be seen in the appropriation of African American culture and the use of black figures in association with negative realities, i.e. aids, which serve to reinforce the implications of blackness as an indisputable negative. Even though blackness remains inadvertently connected to negative aspects of Japanese society, this facet is rapidly…show more content…
For it is often unheard of for individuals, outside of Japan, to know that “Japanese high school students today at least read [some] excerpts from original works by Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Martin Luther King Jr., and Marian Anderson in [the] Ministry of Education–approved English textbooks (Ishibashi, 1978)”(Koshiro, 2003)’. Since deliberate over emphasis of derogatory remarks about African Americans by Japan 's Liberal Democratic Party politicians in the 1980s, by American media, the public refused to think any further, but take for face value that all Japanese are racists who avoid contact with African American people. Although there is evidence proving positive interaction between African Americans and the Japanese, other scholarly literature provides more negative accounts, overlooking their relationships both prior to and after the 1980s. To combat this assumption, the “long-ignored [occurrence of] Japanese readings of African American history, literature, and struggle [must be] investigate[d] [to understand] why the [hi]story of Japanese interactions with African Americans has been muted rather than celebrated (Koshiro, 2003).” There is a common held belief that most and if not all of Japan’s interest in African American culture began during the 1970s with the introduction of hip-hop, later appropriated by Japanese youth as a means of rebellion, as a new form of social bonding and self-discovery. While the appropriation of
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