ABOUT BLACK EYE
Since June 2014, Baye McNeil's column, Black Eye, has been featured monthly in The Japan Times newspaper. The column focuses primarily on life in Japan from the perspective of people of African descent. Stories will cover his own as well as the experiences of black people from all over the globe who have come to call Japan their home. Below are links to all the columns to date.
“The onus is still on us to be black history"
Be your excellent selves and by doing that you’ll be black history, too..
“Now I’m positioned to play a role in making a real and positive difference in this country I call home."
“Before one can make peace with Japan and the Japanese, one must first make peace with the empty seat."
“To black up or not to black up for ‘Othello,’ that is the question!"
“Vow to ‘compete at the Japanese level’ pays off for Oussouby Sacko, Kyoto Seika’s next head"
“Kyoto Seika’s next dean, Oussouby Sacko, was schooled in the violent tumult of ’80s China" Pt. 1 October 2017
"Japanese professor studies U.S. ‘birth of a nation’ and finds common humanity"
““I don’t see Japanese as racist in the way (the term) is used in the U.S.,” says Kearney. “In the States they ought to know better but the Trumps and the like, they insist on being ignorant. I think it’s more accurate to say Japanese are cultural chauvinists." August 2017
“Any conspicuous non-Japanese living here knows that whatever your occupation may be, in the minds of many Japanese outside of your circle of friends and family, you’ll always be moonlighting as that. First and foremost, your primary and perpetual occupation is that of representative of the outside world." July 2017
““TELL is an NPO that supports the mental health needs of the international community,”
says the Atlanta native. “Whether the client is a foreigner or a Japanese who speaks English doesn’t matter. Here in Japan there are loads of resources for those who speak Japanese, but there are very few for English speakers.” " May 2017
“So, by the time I arrived in Japan, enthusiast that I’d become, I found the structures here to be a veritable feast for the senses.While New York’s cityscape is home to architecture from around the globe, resulting in a hodgepodge of sensibilities, to encounter not simply a building but entire cities designed and built with the Japanese concept of architecture was astounding." April 2017
“One day, Stephanie and I went to this African Festa in Nagoya. All of the vendors there were African, but all of the entertainment was Japanese. There wasn’t even one black face. We were just sitting there shaking our heads, thinking, ‘This isn’t right." March 2017
“Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were white,” Amina says. “Because I’ve seen it before: A white girl who can’t speak any Japanese will get a bigger part than I could get. In America that white girl wouldn’t be considered beautiful, but because in Japan white is automatically pretty or exotic, they’ll get the part." February 2017
“when I was 16, I first saw the anime film ‘Fist of the North Star.’ In the U.K. it was rated 18, and I wondered why. Then I watched it and saw all the heads exploding and the blood spraying about, and I was shocked, excited and awed all at the same time. So that led to my love of Japanese anime.” September, 2016
“Refugees need food, clothing, shelter,” says Easley. “The church can offer transportation fees to refugees but they don’t have accommodations. This is where I individually come in.” June, 2016
“That day, I was coming out of Matsuya when two cops rolled up on me,” he continued, referring to a popular Japanese fast-food chain. “They asked could I speak Japanese. At the time my Japanese was piss poor, so I said no. Then they said they wanted to see my ID, and I asked why. They said they’d been having a problem with Africans and I said, ‘Well, I’m African-American.’ January 2017 Read More
““One-thousand-five-hundred people auditioned for these positions. They only needed three male dancers and eight female dancers,” says Abdou. “But people came from all over the country, every town and village.” October, 2016
“At the age of 7, I learned that racist cops kill black people they’re supposed to serve and protect, including kids, and that an unjust justice system will serve and protect the killers.” July, 2016
“I remember watching matches on TV with Kyoko Inoue, Manami Toyota and Aja Kong. So, to then go work for Inoue, I was just blown away!” Roni says. “All of these women have had such illustrious careers. And now here I am, part of that legacy, part of the Diana family! It’s just incredible.” December, 2016
“Texas always goes red,” I said, looking at that Lone Star State, red as the blood of James Byrd, a black man who’d been lynched there back in ’98, chained and dragged behind a pickup truck driven by white supremacists. Can’t ever think of Texas without thinking of James.” November, 2016
“I was intrigued by Japan, and I became really inquisitive. I wanted to know more, and decided I needed to be at ground zero. I’ve lived around the world and when you live in another country or another culture, you have to become a child again because only then can you learn without judging.” August, 2016
““If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race,” said Woodson. This was revolutionary thinking at that time, believe it or not. ” February, 2016
“I came out when I was 14,” Williams says, “so virtually everyone in my life knows I’m gay. But things kinda changed a bit when I first came here. In America I was really confident and I didn’t give a damn if people found it uncomfortable, because America is my cultural space as well. ” January 17, 2016
“I don’t need to tell the story of slavery to black people. We’re not all experts but we have the background, the history. For us it’s personal. But if the story is something that’s blatantly banging people over the head, then it’s not comfortable and they won’t process it." March, 2016
The idea to open a spot of some sort was hatched about five years ago. Initially the plan was to open a music cafe, a place the could call their own. But the idea evolved over the years.“It took five years because we’re both foreigners,” says Latonya. “A lot of the time people here don’t want to rent to two foreigners. ”
December 20, 2015
“When my wife had gone to see her parents to tell them about us, they arranged for the whole family to be there, to ambush her like an intervention,” Sexton says." May, 2016
”And the irony — that on the one day I’m granted this unexpected windfall, this respite from the daily onslaught of Japanese privilege and homespun otherization, a fellow non-Japanese decides to hock a big loogie of white privilege at me — was not wasted on yours truly. I would have laughed if it weren’t so goddamn, well, ironic.” November 22, 2015
I feel an unexpected and profound sense of pride to be standing next to the first African-American to run a highly successful TV program in Japan while gazing at a photo of Lee, the first and only African-American to preside over the Tokyo American Club in its 87-year history. It is one of those moments that will stick with me for a while. October 19, 2015
"Their equipment, technical skills, education, background, styles, and experience in the game vary. As does their level of accomplishment and notoriety. But what they all have in common is drive, enthusiasm and the wherewithal to see projects from conception to fruition."
May 18, 2015
“He was so bold with it,” Amanda says of Daisuke, her future salaryman husband. “And not in a fake macho kind of way. The way he approached me, he just had all the qualities I was interested in. He was attractive, older than me and seemed serious. Yet he was super-kind and gentle — though some people think he looks scary.” September 20, 2015
“I was still in ratchet (ghetto) mode,” she says. “So I was like, ‘Oh great! Free food!’ And that was all I was thinking about. I didn’t think that this would be my husband someday. I didn’t like him, I didn’t think he was cute, none of that. I just figured, ‘This is a Japanese man, so I can practice my Japanese with him — and he has food!’ ”
August 24, 2015
"“They’re just giving their bodies away,” she’d practically scream at me. “Japanese girls lose all their self-respect for white guys. And these guys are even worse, taking advantage of these poor, stupid girls!”."
June 21, 2015
“And sometimes when we go out and people talk to my children as if they’re foreigners and say, ‘Oh, you speak Japanese!’ and ‘Oh, you can use chopsticks really well!’ And the kids are looking at me like,
‘Why is this stupid person telling me I can use chopsticks?’" July 20, 2015
“Japanese people don’t even recognize me. Only foreigners recognize me!” Ariana said, clearly to her chagrin, though her brilliant smile never faltered."
“I’m sick and tired of the knee-jerk response to everything that happens on this side of the planet when it comes to our own perceived notions of race,” the writer added, “especially in a homogenous society that doesn’t have a real feel for it.”
March 18, 2015
The other day, I showed a video of these Rats & Star guys to a Japanese co-worker of mine and, asked what he thought of it.
“They want to be like black people,” he said, grinning. “They love black people.”
Feb 18, 2015
But, the thing is (and this is the thought that slightly alleviates my pangs of guilt), what’s happening in the U.S., and the attitudes and belief systems that precipitate these tragedies again and again, are not unique to the U.S.
Jan 14, 2015
“I guess one similarity I’ve noticed would be this: In my experience, in Japan, if a Japanese sees a black, they’re going to think he’s African; and in Jamaica, if a Jamaican sees an Asian, we’re going to think they’re Chinese,” he explained. “Even if they say they’re Japanese, Jamaicans will think Japan is part of China. And many Japanese here, as well: When I tell them I’m Jamaican, many think Jamaica is in Africa. "
Dec 17, 2014
Injustice was victorious once again, as far as I’m concerned. America has reiterated its approximate value of a black boy’s life, of a black man’s life — of this man’s life. My brothers are dying, my sisters are wailing, my community is aflame and I can see the sparks leaping into the air from here.
Nov 28, 2014
“But being a woman in Japan is like being at the bottom of the totem pole, especially in the music industry. It’s just ridiculous. The people you have to work with here expect you to be quiet and say nothing. That’s just how it works here. Women don’t get a lot of respect and they’re not expected to have ideas and go hard at certain things. But I definitely go hard so it freaks people out, sometimes.”
Nov 19, 2015
"I walk an ultrathin tightrope between alleviating the anxiety of mostly innocent victims of irrational fear, misinformation and ignorance, and maintaining my dignity, but I walk it almost like it’s a natural reflex these days. I’ve modified my soul’s response to this behavior that has effectively become part of me.
Aug. 20, 2014
"I can only see but so many Japanese with dreadlocks, dressed up in Jamaican cosplay, rocking T-shirts with black, gold and green marijuana leaves (like it’s the Jamaican national flower or something) or visages of Bob Marley, puffing on a fat spliff, before I’m spewing Red Stripe and partially digested jerk chicken on innocent bystanders."
Oct 22, 2014
“I am probably the first black person they’ve ever seen in the flesh,” I told myself, unaware that these words would eventually become a sort of mantra absolving this Japanese tendency and most of their other transgressions in advance. I would find this amnesty quite necessary for surviving here with my sanity and tolerance intact."
July 16, 2014
"They suggested we place him in a special school! So, we visited one of these places and it looked straight up like an asylum! Wifey and I are walking through there and kids are in, like, gated classrooms!” Miles said. “I was still mad Brooklyn then, so I was like, ‘Oh, hell no! Are y’all f-cking mad?!"
Sept 17, 2014
“I will win in Japan! I will be the man! Women will swoon, and men will gnash their teeth. Wherever I go, they’ll know — oh yeah, they’ll know — if you show me love, you’ll get mad love in return, American-style, baby! But if you meddle with me, give your heart to Buddha cuz your ass is mine!”"
June 25, 2014