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The Black Tokyo Report 1


Wow! I have received many emails regarding my posts on E-Mobile’s commercial (CM) that parodies Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for Change. Many wrote to inform me that the CM is only a parody of a Japanese television drama. I try to keep an open mind but E-Mobile does not get a pass on this one! 

As presented in my posts and comments, Blacks have had to combat negative images and stereotypes in Japan (and elsewhere). One can easily turn on the television in Japan to watch a variety of programs that still show the CONTINENT of Africa as some backwards land or Blacks in America and elsewhere as the problem to whatever plagues a country. With that said, there are also some positive portrayals of Blacks on Japanese television. I am just doing my part to make sure that there are more. 

Other replies that I received asked: Why don’t you focus on more positive things? My reply: Who say’s that I don’t! Let’s just say that I am doing my part to present a positive image of Blacks and of America. When I proudly wore the US Marine Corps uniform, I presented myself, my service, my nation, and just as important my “image” as a Black male in the most positive manner. Why? That’s how I was raised and “conditioned.” Part of my conditioning comes from understanding the power of an image and power of positive action.

For example, when there is news in Japan on Blacks or negative press relating to the US Forces Japan, I try to get the “rest of the story” from my various sources in and around Japan not only to provide a fair and balance report but to get the ura (behind-the-scenes, on the street, or underground) Japan version. If you have followed the Black Tokyo Discussion Board for the past nine years, you know that I report on both the good and bad and I tend to not sugarcoat things!

 As mentioned in a previous post, Blacks and other non-Japanese must also deal with prejudices within the “gaijin”/expat community in Japan. For example:

  • person/country “X” hates person/country “Y”
  • person “A” hates the military
  • the lack of unity between Africans and African Americans 
  • minimal discourse in alleviating real or perceived issues that impact all expats
  • the pecking order: skin color, country, status, religion, job and everything in between  
  • expats trying to be more Japanese than the Japanese
  • walking around with one’s eyes wide shut 

Due to the various types of feedback on the E-Mobile CM article, I have decided to post a podcast that I created in 2006. The podcast addresses the issues of blackface in Japan, racist images on the box of Koten condoms, and racist images used in a Tokyo Metro Government Earthquake Preparedness Pamphlet. There is also an interview with the event coordinator and party-throwing crew, 6 Figures and a shout out to Jus’ Phine Entertainment. The podcast shows some of the issues that are important to Black Tokyo and it shows a macro-level of how some Blacks in Japan share their experiences and cultural norms with the Japanese and other foreign expatriates.

Well, here’s to keeping a positive image and passing knowledge of the Afro in the US and abroad. As always, I welcome your feedback!



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