Home > Uncategorized > The Japanese used to be for Obama, でもさァ。。。(but…)

The Japanese used to be for Obama, でもさァ。。。(but…)

The best thing about living in Japan, for me, was the support for Barack Obama.

Yes, Japanese people are overwhelmingly xenophobic and many are racists as well (I didn’t know there was a difference until I came here), so when I first began to notice the support that Obama had here, starting during the primaries, frankly, I was shocked.  I had to get to the bottom of it because it just didn’t jibe with what I had concluded about Japanese people through living with them over the past 5 years.

I have a bunch of private students. In fact, over the course of my stay here, I would say I’ve had about 50 or so. I teach them English and they pay me money…it’s a very cozy arrangement, and everybody’s happy. From time to time, before, during or after lessons, we get into discussions about various things. Cultural comparisons, language issues, and even political issues if their English skill level is high enough (cuz my Japanese still sucks!) I love these moments much more than than the teaching, to be honest.

During these sessions, I’ve learned a great deal. Several students I’ve been teaching for years and so we’re practically friends (aside for the financial side) or at least I’ve established a trust that enables them to step out of their cultural shells of politeness and actually say what they are really thinking and feeling.  They show their true faces. It actually has a name. They call it Hon’ne (pronounced hone-nay-here’s an explanation from wikipedia)… With hon’ne unleashed, I’m freed up to get the true answers to the questions I have.

Being a black man in Japan means you look like every famous black person in Japan. When I arrived here, and for about a year afterwards, it was Bob Sapp, a famous K-1 fighter. Then there was Bobby Ologun, another K-1 fighter and comedian from Africa.  Then Billy Blanks, of Billy’s Boot Camp fame. :

Bob Sapp Mask

Bob Sapp Mask

Bobby Olugun mask

Bobby Olugun mask

Billy Blanks (not a mask)

Billy Blanks (not a mask)

(Is it me or are those mask a little creepy?)

All were and are extremely popular here. I don’t think I favor any of them but I’ll let those of you who know me be the judge of that. For those of you who don’t …well, I am black and I do keep my hair bald usually.

I guess what I’m avoiding saying is no one says “hey, Obama!” when I walk down the street. Not that I favor him either but geez, I’d rather be associated with him then any of those other guys; 2 of which are clowns, so buffoonish I can hardly stand to see them.

Anyway, I ask my students, how do they feel about Obama. The general consensus was: He’s great! It’s amazing what he is trying to accomplish and they sincerely wished him the best. One student who confessed to me that Japanese people, in general, hold a very low opinion of black people, and view them as a people to either be pitied (africans) or feared( Americans) but if Obama gets elected, the Japanese impression of black people will change.

I appreciated his honesty. I knew he was right. Japanese, like people all over the world, recognize that although America is a multi-racial society, throughout her history, the dominant race has always been white, and the leadership as well, and that leadership, while having done some good around the world has also done a great deal of damage as well i.e. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And he, meaning they (for, unlike Americans, in an homogeneous country like Japan, one Japanese person’s thoughts and feelings can pretty much sum up the nation’s thoughts and feelings, I’ve found, felt that an Obama presidency would mark a drastic change and a profile upheaval for black people.

He also told me something else I found striking. He said the perception of Obama, based on his speeches, his manner, and his grace, reminded them of an Asian. His patience, especially in the face of the types of attacks he’d endured during the primary and even currently, they find extremely admirable, almost Confucius like. It’s a trait that they had not previously acknowledged in African Americans. Conversely, he found African Americans in general to be easily excitable, impetuous, and decidedly impatient.

“Based on what?”

“Based on movies and TV shows…”

I see.

Well, then came Sarah Palin, making a big splash at the Republican convention, with her Alaskan whine, her excessive un-blinking decisiveness, her problematic relationship with the truth, Hockey Mom sporting a $2500 Valentino Garavani jacket, and…and…oh hell, $400 MP-704’s made by Japanese Frame Designer Kazuo Kawasaki.

Kazuo Kawasaki

Kazuo Kawasaki

Unless you’re from an island (not Manhattan) l can’t tell you how much impact something like this can have on an island nation. The world is recognizing one of their own. He might have taken back the Sumo championship from them damn Mongolians. He might have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize for ecological innovations. Usain Bolt knows what I’m talking about. He’s more popular than King Sellasie in Jamaica right now.

Kawasaki said in an interview that he shares what he sees as some common political sentiments with Palin, “I am quite right-wing,” he says.

Well, anyway, the above notwithstanding, Obama is still very popular here (in Japan), but right now he has to take a backseat to the woman sporting a Japanese native’s handiwork. Maybe someone should call her out for not buying good ole North American EyeWear frames.

Japanese frames? How unpatriotic is that?? Next she’ll be refusing to wear a flag pin…

Palin with Un-American frames (-;

Palin with Un-American frames (-;

Wait a minute…she isn’t wearing a flag pen, is she?

Alaska First (-:

Obama/Biden 08

for more stories about Japan go to: Loco in Yokohama


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