Sunday, July 12, 2015

RE: An Open Letter to Japanese People from Black Men (日本人の皆んなさんへの黒人からの手紙) - Part 1

I recently came across a post on Loco in Yokohama, a long-running blog of a Black man living in Japan. This "open letter" from a Black man to Japanese people is rather interesting, and in it thirty-six points are made (I'm not going to copy the entire letter here, but here is the link for you to check it out). I will make my responses to each of the thirty-six points from my perspective as a Black man that has spent time in Japan (and China). The first twelve will be addressed in this post, and I'll get around to talking about the others later.

1. We are indeed people, not accessories. It goes both ways too. I personally don't mind dating a girl just because she wants to try something new, but I'd keep that in mind and not invest too much into the relationship if she's only dating for the novelty factor of being with a foreigner or Black man. I touch on this topic a bit in my previous post.

2. Very true. Do not get caught up by "Eigo bandits", girls in Japan that date foreigners for free English lessons. At the very least, make them pay for dinner or teach you some Japanese. I was caught up in this by a few Japanese girls, but in China, the girls at least had the courtesy to pay for my dinner, and some of them did end up going to bed with me.

3. This is indeed annoying, especially if you are having a bad day (and this goes double if your bad day is based on racial issues). However, this can sometimes be used to your advantage, so it isn't always a bad thing. I certainly don't mind being told that I look like Denzel Washington, for instance, especially when it's going to get me dinner or some püh. How many White dudes take advantage of being "handsome" like Brad Pitt? Yeah, I don't think that I mind being called Will Smith and treated like a C-list celebrity for a night.


4. This is true, but once again, it can go both ways. What gets under my skin is that they will often dislike Black people unless we can fit whatever entertainment stereotype they think about us.

5. As a man that works out to stay in shape, I have to agree with this one.

6. Being complimented for being Black is much better than the usual negatives, but I get your point to a degree. When this happened in China, it seemed to come with a little bit of backhanded jealousy ("It's easy to get a job teaching because you are a foreigner").

7. This never happened to me, but it certainly is foul that we are perceived as drug dealers. What's even worse is that many non-Black foreigners feel the same way (and likely help to permeate this image), and I have heard stories of White foreigners approaching Black foreigners that have nothing to do with the drug game for drugs.

8. That's true. I don't mind Asians or others being interested in Black cultures, but it is upsetting if and when they take said culture, profit off of it, then show utter disrespect to Black people (this goes for the Kid Rock types in the States too). Also, I am interested in Asian cultures, and just as I mentioned in point #2, there should be some type of exchange.

9. I don't particularly care for this, and it always seems like there is a knife behind the person's back when they do this. Still, they kiss White folks' asses with their tongue, so I might as well get my Black ass kissed? I'd much rather operate on the grounds of mutual respect though.

10. This would piss me off too. This never happened to me in Japan, but when it did in China and Taiwan, the people that touched me had the courtesy to ask first. Maybe we should start charging people to touch our hair? It would be a business idea that could put money in the pockets of all of the Black folks that are denied English-teaching positions.

Chinese touch Black boy's hair

11. All people should love themselves, I agree. No, this is not fat acceptance rhetoric, but people should strive to be in good shape and love themselves. It is certainly OK to admire others, but it isn't healthy to constantly put oneself down.

12. I certainly agree with this! I never really cared for the Japanese girls that "acted Black". Sure, if one is interested in and exposed to the culture, they may pick up elements of it (just as I like the Japanese language and was into anime at one time), but I'll pass on the "Ghetto Japulous" birds. Despite this fact, I still don't expect any Japanese girl that I might hook up with to necessarily be "my geisha fantasy".

So those are my responses to the first twelve points. I'll get to the remaining twenty-four in the next post (or two). Until next time, またね。


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I do agree that Black Man/Northeast Asian women relationships are underrepresented and held in disdain from just about every angle.

    I wouldn't consider it to be a victory merely for having an Asian woman talk to us; we have to have a bit more pride and a bit less thirst than that, but when it comes to casual sex at least, fetish or not, a lay is a lay. Fetishism only becomes a problem when it leads to being pigeonholed (which can have economic consequence) or in a long-term relationship which could lead to horrible misunderstandings and lack of a solid foundation.

    The writer of the original piece certainly makes valid points, but his writing style and some of his points make him seem to come off as a "social justice warrior", and perhaps even a feminist or homosexual. This is along the lines of "Black in Asia", a gay Black male that blogged about his existence in Taiwan, or the feminist cabal known as "Blasian Narrative". Both of these entities made valid points, but they also pushed ideals that would be detrimental to the objectives of a shamelessly heterosexual Black man in Asia.

    Thanks for your comment once again. I am in concurrence with much of what you have said.

  3. Hi, I'm the author of the letter and I'm glad you liked the letter brother.

    Just some things to add....

    -I understand what was put out may detriment the "shameless heterosexual black male" in his pursuits for multiple Asian women however I'm sure you can agree that had I kept to their interests it would've taken away a lot from this letter's message and wouldn't have been taken seriously. Not something I was prepared to do.

    -Most of the criticism I have received from brothers has been from ones such as the person above or those who say "Japan is better than home so why complain?"
    I'm also sure that many Japanese readers would've noticed this and criticized the letter for not addressing the 'black playboy stereotype'. A stereotype that mostly hurts(and sometimes benefits) many of us directly and indirectly.

    -The whole list isnt one individual pissed off black man but a collection of many. When making this I gathered opinions and grievances of numerous black men (residing in Japan) and half Japanese men(one that identify as black). I also had some help from my close friend(the translator) who has heard of various rumors about black men from Japanese female gossip.
    Quite a few of these things do not bother me but of course they are valid and I could not ignore them on that basis. I for one could certainly live without being fetishized or being positively stereotyped. I just find it disappointing many brothers believe they have to rely on many of these points to enjoy their time in Japan(or any other East Asian country. My overrall aim is to be taken seriously

    The feedback has been very positive from Japanese and Black readers (and others). I've had numerous people hit me up and thanking me for addressing these things that bother them. It has been great to see that it has opened up discussions amongst Japanese people about representations and stereotypes of not just Black folk but themselves too.

    -Oh and I am straight.

    Thanks for sharing brother!

  4. -Of course, point noted.

    -Indeed, the "Black Playboy" stereotype hurts us, but what sucks about that is the double standard, since other foreigners, and even some Japanese dudes can be playboys without catching heat for it. Black men seem to catch heat regardless, so might as well cool off in some püh, yeah?

    -Gotcha. Yes, it seems like many Black folks try to use stereotypes to get by in Asia, but it ends up leaving us pigeonholed. It's a double-edged sword. I personally don't mind being fetishized, but I don't care for being pigeonholed as a basketball player or rapper because those things aren't true of me, and they come with an unspoken "that's all they're good for" that makes it harder to get a teaching job or get into business, which is what I want to do, personally. I will most certainly enjoy the poontang though.

    Thanks for your comment and input.