I spent a lot of time while in America thinking about my blackness and how to modulate it: understanding the situations when I needed to be “proper” and more relatable to non-blacks; or amplify it so I didn’t seem out of touch with other blacks.This is one of those universal concepts my friends and I have discussed, and it’s important to point that out before I talk about being black in Japan.Growing up in Louisiana, I was raised in a society that sees me, a young black man, as inferior.And while I was lucky to avoid overt racial antagonism, there were always instances that reminded me of my skin color.The roles just aren't there for minorities in general, and I have been sent far too many offers for the same kinds of parts: athletes, assistants, bodyguards.One of my most uncomfortable experiences was going into an audition without knowing the role for which I was being considered.If the person seems open minded, I use it as a teachable moment. It really helps approaching situations here not from a place of anger, but one of educating.
One of our writers recounts his experiences living in Japan as an African-American, how he is perceived in society, and how life here compares to life back home.
K., the Caribbean, Africa or any other place in the world.
In fact, part of the difference I experience from other black people, especially my friends from Africa, is in skin color. I know it doesn’t come from a place of negativity, but as a person with caramel-colored skin, it's often assumed I am biracial.
It would have been less offensive for them to have written “white men” on the other door.
And trying to explain to my friends made it more frustrating. “If the men in the room were handsome, then why is that bad? Dating here is, from my experience, also less about being black and more about being a foreigner.
And while it’s not completely inaccurate—my family does have Native American blood—I always have to explain that we have a wide range of colors among black people and darkness does not equate to “blackness.” Nor does the place we were raised.