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Born With It (生まれつき) – Growing up Black and Japanese

Last updated on February 23, 2019

‘Born With It’, written and directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, is a short film about a biracial/bicultural boy on his first day of school in a small Japanese town. He tries to prove to his new classmates that his dark skin is not a disease. The short film captures the trepidation of being an Afro-Japanese child in Japan.

Mari Yamamoto at Japan Subculture Research Center posits:

“While race relations in the United States seem to be tenser than ever, Japan is coming to a crossroads with accepting mixed race Japanese and immigrants into their mostly homogenous society. Japan is a welcoming country to foreigners, especially if you are a temporary visitor. The subtle prejudices only become visible to a foreigner once you have lived here for a while and experienced the day to day difficulties you face as an outsider when you actually try to become part of the society. Any foreigner in Japan who has been turned away from renting an apartment simply because they’re not Japanese, knows that experience.

An American filmmaker, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, from Texas, depicts this struggle to be accepted as a dark skinned black man in Japan in his award winning short film Born With It(生まれつき). Osei-Kuffour lived in Japan for six years, encountering numerous instances of prejudice and discrimination. The film follows a black elementary school child in Japan experiencing the cruelty of racism and harsh words spoken unfiltered in the world of children, who have not learned the impact of what they are doing or saying, or how to accept difference.”

Born With It has won The Best Film & Social Impact Award at the NBC-Universal Short Film Festival and Honorable Mention for Best Short Film at Toronto International Film Festival (Kids Section) and many more festivals. The 17-minute short film aired on the PBS KQED channel’s FILM SCHOOL SHORTS. Visit their website at, connect with FILM SCHOOL SHORTS on Facebook:… or via Twitter at

Click here to read more from Mari Yamamoto.


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