Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

American Teacher Exposes Lingering Racism in Japan


Today’s post is in support of our friend Miki Dezaki, a Japanese-American currently living and teaching in Japan. Miki has been in Okinawa since 2007, and has made some videos documenting various elements of Japanese culture from his unique perspective (usually with a humorous kick).

Recently, he made a video chronicling the racism that exists in Japan even today, and how the Japanese themselves are mostly oblivious to it. While the video is in fact a thoughtful analysis rooted in fact and supporting evidence, Miki did not expect that the video would cause the stir that it did, in this case, from the loud, vocal and right-wing netouyou.

Some extremists from this group were so outraged that they began hurling death threats at Miki, and attacking him through his various social media presences online. Armed with the information they could find there, they infiltrated his personal life, tracking down his superiors at school, the school board, and even local government to demand that he remove the video and stop spreading his message. Ironically, that fact alone seems to reaffirm Miki’s original “controversial” claim that racism does still exist in Japan.

“Some Japanese guys found out which school I used to work at and now, I am being pressured to take down the ‘Racism in Japan’ video,” Dezaki posted on Reddit. “I’m not really sure what to do at this point. I don’t want to take down the video because I don’t believe I did anything wrong, and I don’t believe in giving into bullies who try to censor every taboo topic in Japan. What do you guys think?”

You can read more about Miki and his video in a recent Washington Post article here. In the meantime, we at Initial Descent want to express our support for Miki and wish him well as he continues to try to make the country he loves a better place through education.

You can also watch the original video that caused this stir below:

He has also released a follow-up, which can be accessed here.


Cultural Tolerance is Strong in Canada…Except in Quebec?


One of the first things you realize while wandering the streets of any major Canadian city is that it is a diverse and tolerant nation. From the hordes of West Indians living in Toronto to the masses of Chinese around Vancouver, the country is full of influences from around the world. While there is a general Canadian identity, which rallies to support the national hockey team, for example, each ethnic group in the country generally tends to continue to carry on its cultural heritage as well, without objection.

Ironically, the least tolerant of Canadians are often those who stand out the most themselves—in this case I mean the Québécois. Quebec is the French province of Canada, which has long been considered different from the rest of Canada. While the rest of the country speaks English, for example, Quebec’s official language is French. And because of Quebec, food labels and signs throughout the entire country are listed in French as well as English.

Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, is an incredibly diverse city, with immigrants from the Middle East, Caribbean, Asia and beyond. While the cultural and racial tolerance Canada is known for is generally found here as well, there have been problems with traditional Québécois taking offense to fresh immigrants who fail to adopt the French language.

It’s really surprising to me that in a country founded on tolerance, the very people who were allowed to maintain their own “different” French language and culture while everyone around them spoke English and created a new culture are the ones who object to a new generation of immigrants doing the same.

That being said, most Québécois are still very open to outside influences, and walking around Montreal reveals that a diverse spirit is generally still alive and well.

Quebec Flags

Quebec flies its flags proudly…sometimes too much so!

Apartheid was Right Here Less Than 20 Years Ago!


The Flag Representing the "Rainbow Nation"

The Flag Representing the “Rainbow Nation”

While South Africa put its best foot forward to embody the “Rainbow Nation”  mantra that Nelson Mandela was heavily responsible for brilliantly engineering while it hosted the World Cup in 2010, it is virtually impossible to touch down in this country for the first time and not think about the fact that apartheid, and all its injustices and horrors, was right here less than 20 years ago.  The “coloured” (mixed race) gate agent greeting you off the jet bridge lived through it.  The white immigration officer who stamped your passport lived through it.  The black taxi driver who whisks you off to your hotel lived through it.  And not as a distant childhood memory, either.  These men and women who you are interacting with ever so casually today actually lived a high percentage of their adult lives under apartheid. 

As excited as I was to be landing in South Africa for the first time and as anxious as I was to lay eyes on Cape Town, I had a really difficult time wrapping my head around this.  I wanted with every fiber of my being to ask the mixed woman what she felt of her ethnicity today, and if she still had any bitterness to either the blacks or whites, neither of which would have accepted her 20 years ago.  I wanted to ask the white man if he himself was racist before, or merely a pawn in a political game he had no clout in.  Or, for that matter, if he held any strong prejudices against blacks even today.  I wanted to ask the black man his take on the current “equality”, and whether it was truly possible for anyone not named Mandela to endure racial oppression for so long and be willing to wipe the slate against your oppressors clean.

Such a gruesome and fascinating, albeit sensitive, topic, I will use this space in the future to dig into these questions.

A Tribute to Equality on Robben Island

A Tribute to Equality on Robben Island