Lost In Translation: Japanese Woman Calls Black Men The N-Word and Unleashes Fury

Lost In Translation: Japanese Woman Calls Black Men The N-Word and Unleashes Fury

Lost In Translation: Japanese Woman Calls Black Men The N-Word and Unleashes Fury

Apparently, this young Japanese woman did not know what she was in for when she dropped the n-word (as in a rap song) to a group of black men. In a video released recently, a few black men come at a Japanese woman from all ends for dropping the n-word: (warning, video contains language that is not safe for work or around children):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vXSOzRvnWs

The tongue-lashing got even worse when the main antagonist in the video mic-ed up a child and asked the woman if she thought he was a (insert n-word) here. The exchange ended in the heated profanities (in front of the child) after what seems like one of his friends suggesting that she did not know the true meaning of the word proclaiming that he did not believe that she did not know. >This wasn’t the first time a black person went off on the Japanese culture. This rant is from a black man who lives in Japan by the name of Miles Star (he has 34 requirements of the Japanese people whilst staying in their country..but I will only highlight a 6):

1. Don’t befriend or date us in an attempt to be different or unique compared to your peers. We are people not accessories.

2. Don’t befriend or date us expecting to be taught English. There’s a place called “school” and many of us get paid to do this.

3. Don’t tell me I look like Obama, Bobby or any other black celebrities you can only count on one hand. Most of the time we don’t resemble them.

4. Please don’t touch my hair without asking. We are not animals.

5. Stop worshiping black men or women’s bodies while shaming your own. It’s cringe-worthy. Love yourself or do something about it.

6. Don’t say n**** even if your friend allows you to. Just don’t. You will say it to the wrong person and it will not be pretty.

Yes, the above requests were part of an actual list! And this is where I feel the need to come to the defense of this young Japanese woman in this video. As an American who has lived in Japan for four years, I have taught English at a local chemical plant and my Japanese friends spoke English almost effortlessly with me while I, like a crazy “gaigin” (foreigner), fumbled my way through Japanese. I have a dear friend who used the f-word quite liberally until I came to the realization that she truly did not know the meaning of the word as we use it in the English language. She thought it meant “crazy”, “insane”…which probably also explains why I saw a T-shirt up in Hokkaido that stated plain as day “The brown bear of Hokkaido is a f-%$ing wild animal”! In short, I explained to my friend, Hiroko, what the word meant and she covered her mouth and was all shades of embarrassed. I am willing to bet that this poor young woman heard a rap song and just assumed that since this word is embraced in trap culture that it was not a crime for her to say it in that context. Does it take away from the fact that she said it? No. But could these guys perhaps have told her, in a nice way, that the “n-word” is a cultural no-no (Unless, of course, you’re a black Hip-hop star)?

As far as “list guy” goes, I have a few things to say to him. For all of the so-called stereotyping you accuse others of, it seems you have developed your own stereotypes of the Japanese as well. As far as people touching your hair in Japan, get used to it! Within two hours of landing on Japanese soil in Osaka and hopping on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train), we had little old ladies with purple hair and teenage girls in school uniforms alike fawning over our then one and a half year-old son. They pinched his cheeks and stroked his blond hair. Days later, a woman at a buffet in Hiroshima asked if she could hold him. She snatched him up, walked him over to her table where she and her friends fussed over him and gave him mini hot dogs! Wherever we went, our son cleaned up with random snacks, candies, toys, you name it. He was big in Japan and sad when he returned here at five years old to not be the center of attention anymore.

Through my experience in Japan, I have come to know by far the most gracious, caring and generous people. Not once did I think that the random strangers stroking my child’s hair were “treating him like an animal”-that he was a victim of some torture. Not once did I think when my friend who commented on my facial structure was being racist against me because I am a white girl. Maybe that’s just my white privilege taking over but somehow, I don’t think so. I had a conversation on Facebook with my friend (and fellow Marine Corps spouse), Yama today. She is living here in the States and having a hard time understanding us (Americans) in a philosophical and relational sense and I get her, I really do.

“Tell me a little more about history….”

Words do get lost in translation and we can choose to translate and reinforce a bad stereotype of us collectively as a people or as a particular cultural group as Americans with the continued use of stereotypical language (and behavior) or we can choose to be awesome Americans and representatives of our country-it’s that simple. I shudder at the lasting impressions these men made.

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7 Comments
  • Appalled By The World says:

    This is too funny. Some goofy black guy makes up a “list” because he discovers his black privilege card doesn’t work outside the Obaman People’s Republic. That fool should just stay home then-not every country plays the PC game where some groups are more exalted than others.

    As for that poor girl-this too is funny in a way. She merely regurgitated what these days pass for “black culture” without understanding it and these black guys get offended? Sorry-but if this offends you then maybe you need to change your “culture” because THAT is where the problem lies.

  • Rebecca says:

    It strikes me that Star’s list complains of perceived fetishization of blacks in Japan. Something I’m sure no Asian woman has ever experienced on American soil.

  • Lisa Carr says:

    ^^BINGO on both counts!

  • Loco says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Well, I can’t speak for all black people (and I am not the author of the list though it resides on my blog), no more than you can speak for all gaijin, but I do know there is a such thing, even here in Japan, as personal space. And when strangers touch you without permission it is an invasion (get used to it, my a&&), a dehumanizing invasion, of that space. You might tolerate it because you believe behind it is these gracious gentle caring generous people, and can understand why you feel that way, but that’s YOUR perception and YOUR choice. Not everyone’s. Personally, if you touch me without permission, that’s a borderline assault, and you will be told to think twice before you do it again. I don’t think of Japanese people as naive, ignorant little child-like denizens of our planet who are exceptional and thus exceptions to the basic tenets of mutual human respect and courtesy. Nor do I kowtow before Japanese privilege anymore than I do before white privilege, though I’m very cognizant of the power and pervasiveness of both. Respect me as respect you, or as you would a Japanese person, that’s my policy. Any deviation from that is, er, problematic. Japanese don’t go around touching Japanese stranger’s hair and skin without permission here in Japan…unless you’re talking about the chikan on the trains and such. If you’re my friend maybe I’ll let you but I gnerally that have people in my circle who are fascinated with our “differences”. That shit nauseates me. I prefer people who like to concentrate on our similarities, our common interests, and those are the ones I can talk to about stuff like this. Otherwise, I think people should stick with that policy (respect one another) when it comes to people whose culture and customs they are unfamiliar with. Ask, it’s a simple thing (though even asking to do that is cringe-worthy). People “should” be taught not to presume ANYTHING about ANYONE, that it’s problematic and rude at best, particularly since their knowledge is so ADMITTEDLY poor (many will be the first to tell you they don’t anything about foreigners — while at the same time manage to maintain and proliferate so many presumptions about foreigners). Most of their mis-information is gleaned from stereotype-driven media (not that other countries media are not similarly drenched in stereotypes but we’re talking about Japan / Japanese here). As for the N-Word business, I’d allow a little latitude, and I would, like the gentleman in the video, inquire as to how the person came to the conclusion that using the word was OK (politely as possible), and base any further discussion on those answers. This video was a poor example of an interaction between a ignorant franco-fied Asian and a pissed-off American black man with very low tolerance for ignorance likely due to his rarely coming in contact with someone so out of the loop (while it’s a common occurrence here). Of course chaos ensues. My having lived in Japan for a decade now, I would definitely approach that scenario differently. (I haven’t in all that time here had the N-word tossed my way except by white people btw) But the level of ignorance encountered here it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find there are people who would use a word without knowing its meaning, or having been misinformed of its meaning. Not the slightest. so I wouldn’t jump all over the girl, even if she knew what she was saying. I’d just educate her as best I can and go about my business…or not. I choose my battles carefully. Like you said, the word is in the mainstream so it’s very difficult to keep it in context. But I do extend the benefit of the doubt as far as I can…and I’m careful where I assign blame, if I assign it at all. Seems to me you’re not doing that. You’re blaming him and hiphop for this incident. And I’m hardpressed to defend it except to say the word predates hiphop, and hiphop is not reason it’s still around, It’s still around because MANY of the conditions that existed when the word was originally conceived persists. This video is a horrible. If you really wanna post something about black and Japanese relations you should try this one: It’s a little female heavy but much better case study of black and Japanese interactions than that bogus video you posted…that girl barely qualifies as Japanese anyway, if you know what I mean. That japanese wouldn’t fully accept her fully because she’s been tainted by western ideas and language…franco-fied. I’m sure in four years you’ve seen how many returnees get treated, not to mention many haafu (particularly half black), Chinese and Koreans. It’s a mixed bag over here. Some of those very same gentle people will stroke your baby’s head with one hand and give the finger to Koreans with the other. And that’s life here, in the US, in France and many other countries…
    http://www.locoinyokohama.com/2015/09/17/whats-it-like-to-be-black-in-japan/

  • Deanna Fisher says:

    There’s a reason that the “Engrish” websites exist with the most hilarious and inappropriate language ever. It happens all across Asia, and especially in Japan. And Japan is just one of those places where you go and demand that they follow your rules. Japanese society has its own rules, and you follow them or go home.

  • Deserttrek says:

    so an american negro goes to japan and demands they change for him?

  • Lisa Carr says:

    Exactly, Deanna!

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