Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Home Food I: Onigiri

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When one is displaced from a deep and regular way of living, with its everydayness, their scents and sounds. And food:

Those things become important, usually, for the rest of your life.

In displacement, one sometimes needs that particular food to nourish the soul, so to speak, to revisit the sound of Mama’s voice, or the sound of birds chirping outside, or the rush of palm trees or bamboo, or the quiet.

Often, in the turbulent after-war years, these things that nourish us are the only things that help us survive and stay the only thing stable in an otherwise changing life.

So I will begin posting some things that I and some of my colleagues and friends, have noted to be important foods in the Amerasian and Black Pacific experience.

This first one is from my own experience living in postwar Japan. Onigiri おにぎり, or Omusubi おむすび. Rice Balls.

In Japan, this is a centuries-old tradition.  For trips, snacks, lunches and sometimes dinner, the diverse ways in which Onigiri is lovingly made, by Mama, or by a master chef, is timeless.

Of course I still make some for myself.  But my late Mama always made the best, in different shapes, with different things hidden inside, or beside them in a bento box.

Fried (yaki), on skewers (kushi), plain, or with nori wrap, or Hawaiian spam or other sweet meat, sometimes made with fried rice, any vegetable or fish or meat inside, or not, with sesame seeds or not……. love them all.

Now Showing in Theaters: うまれつき (Born With It)

A Black-Japanese student enters a Japanese school.  The Japanese students are amazed, curious, condescending, afraid, finding ways to make him outcast.

This Short Film, written and directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Jr., shines a lens onto a small town, and gives a picture of how Japanese-mix children and people, and black-mixed people and Blacks are treated in Japan.

I was born in Japan and raised there until 1962-3.  Then again, from 1968 to 1970–when I was 13 to 15 years old.  There was a difference in the two periods.

In the 50s and 60s, racism was more overt, physically violent, and widespread– for me and my kind in Japan. In the late 60s, it was more private and more prone to ostracizing and teasing, although physical violence was still a relative normal response. And as we know from news reports and stories of public figures in Japan who are Black-Japanese, it has not changed much in Japan.

The director hoped to shine a light on this persistent problem of Japanese identity and its treatment of “the other.”



Hiroshima, State-making and the ABCC

Little Boy: Object of US Experiments by ABCC
Little Boy: Object of US Experiments by ABCC


Aspects of U.S. nation-building and preparing for the Cold-War, were a vital aspect to preparing for the dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. It was U.S. propaganda to popularize the notion of “needing” to drop the two atomic bombs to stop the Japanese Imperial forces from continual brutalization and colonization of the Asia-Pacific. Already, as we know, 70 (all) of the major Japanese cities were leveled by daily and nightly bombings by the United States. Not only were they bombed, but “Fire” bombed. Paper and wood structures burned for days and days after the bombs fell, while people were charred inside and out through the chemicals used. Japan was devastated.

Then the Atomic bombs fell from the bellies of the Enola Gay.  “Little Boy” was dropped. Thousands of real human boys and girls, women and children, gone.

But this was not all.

Preparation. The Cold War.  The U.S. position in relation to an inferior “Asia” and the rising Soviet threat. The future of scientism (the prioritizing and domination of western science over other knowledges), and the role of the United States as a world power, hinged on the act of dropping the bombs and its effects. The racist-infused Anti-Pacific war, and the Pacific’s racist war to fight white supremacy and protect its own brutal patriarchal “yellow supremacy” was now floating in an orange stench of post-atomic explosions and the strategies were steadfastly continued.

The ABCC The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission— was billed to the Japanese and the American public back at home, as a “compassionate” relief effort meant to help the Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki post-Atomic blast.  But history has proven, through the records, biographies, and written documents and interviews by survivors and medical personnel in the U.S. Allied Occupation forces, that this was not why they were there.  The primary reason for the ABCC was to collect data for further research into the effects of the Atomic bomb on humans.

All of the schools in Hiroshima were visited. All of the children and teachers and staff went through the investigations and data collection exams. The people thought they were there to be helped by the Americans. Instead, they were treated coldly and the relief from unbearable pain was not to be given by the Americans. In most of the stories collected, the Americans seemed barely interested in the Japanese children or adults suffering. Of course not. They were fooled. But yes, of course. It is not what they say it is. The state and its functionaries will do what they want.  It is do-able because of the deeper racism and resulting glee and happiness through which much of this is done, to dehumanize. What were the Japanese to these personnel of the U.S. except objects of research and losers in war.  The Japanese were thought to have deserved it right?

There are also stories of American medical personnel who really did feel compassion and were there to help the Japanese.  They couldn’t bear the suffering they encountered. So some of them got into open fights with their brothers and sisters in medical uniform or their commanders in military uniform, to protest. Some were summarily sent back to the United States. But most kept quiet and decided to help on their own, secretly finding spaces to treat some of the suffering as much as they could, ignoring their commanding officers and doctors of higher rank.

Of course news got out, and many of the American public protested and sent letters.  The “research” continued.

It would be wrong to think of these events as merely events. These ways of relating to each other—between Japanese and Americans, between civilians and military, between western medicine and Japanese medical forms existing before the United States began enforcing western medicine on the Japanese society in the Occupation—all of these and more, will stay in memory and do. Japanese nationalists today, have not forgotten these relations of power and the humiliation they felt. Perhaps resentments are created at these moments. Those people’s sons and daughters have heard these stories and also create the legacies of resentment and the struggle for a freedom that is impossible in times of war and its aftermath.

Research was created. The United States continued to build its military apparatus across the Pacific. The Cold War came and gone…………or not. Japan is still occupied under the false impression of sovereignty.

The Hibakusha 被爆者 (atomic bomb survivors) continue to speak and show us, perhaps for no reason except into an empty night, to look at ourselves and re-think our values.

But experiments of even more horrific effects are happening. The nations have continued to promise human rights and speak of the horror of war, but perhaps we romanticize it too much.  Too many heroes that can only be heroes through some kind of violence, some kind of masculinity, some kind of nation-state patriotism, some kind of displacement of values, lives, and moralities. The ABCC, it turns out, was just a beginning.

Japan Entertainment Magazine Interview

Eye-Ai あいあい 2016年7月号

In the July 2016 issue of Japanese Entertainment Magazine Eye-Ai(あいあい), Eric Robinson, Creative Director of Online Magazine Black Tokyo is interviewed for a second time.

In this issue, I am mentioned and quoted, as well as my book, along with interesting quotes from Ariana Miyamoto, recently crowned Miss Universe Japan, who is Black-Japanese.

Mitzi Uehara Carter, who is a scholar and teacher whose heritage is Black-Okinawan, and who runs the blog: Grits and Sushi, is also mentioned, as well as Enka Singer from Chicago, Jero ジェロ , whose mother is Black-Japanese Amerasian.

Eric Robinson, Mitzi Uehara-Carter and myself presented together at the forum at UC Berkeley in 2011, entitled:  Deployment, Bases, and the US Military in Movement: Imagining Japan and the Self Through Race and Sex.

In this issue, Eric Robinson speaks to how Black Tokyo came to be, and offers thoughts on the importance of Black-Japaneseness being in the Japanese (and global) public eye in the present, where issues of race, gender, and nationalism are important to think into for nations to create a more positive co-existence for diverse citizens in a transnational world.

Eye-Ai(あいあい) 2016年7月号 – Below is the link  (try different browsers if you have trouble viewing it).

The Interview begins on Page 28:


T-Tasha / Yoon-Mi-Rae : Korean Rap/Hip-Hop/R&B QUEEN

Tasha – or Yoon Mi Rae in Korea, alternatively known as “T-Tasha”— is definitely South Korea’s greatest Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B or more accurately: K-R&B artist. Her heritage is African-American/Korean, and is in my other posts and the purpose of this whole blog site, her experiences growing up in Korea were full of the prejudiced, racist violence against her.

Often, these lives produce tremendous artistic expression.

This is a 9-year-old video. She was a teenager and still, you can sense how good she is.

This song seeks to empower Black-Korean girls, recorded live off of Korean television, entitled: Wonder Woman.

I will post more of her videos later.


In Order to Do Justice

Liberation - aboriginal

With an education system that teaches us to memorize certain facts, but not to analyze and think, and with a failing structure that deserts ethics and life itself, one does not have to be blind to see that there are incredible changes going on now that are disturbing our sense of peace and security.  For most of the world, there has not ever been “peace” and “security.”  The global cognitive dissonance is real. For Europeans, South and Central Americans, indigenous cultures, Asian nations, and almost everywhere, a rise in anger, confusion, and disillusionment is going on.  It speaks, from my point of view, at various levels of the success that the state (wherever and whichever) has had, in blinding people to the truths of history, culture, and certain factors of life.  In fact, there are many who will die with an understanding that war, victory, and narcissism are normal and perennial. I, for one, as one who is over 60 years old at the time of this writing, who has lived in post-occupied Japan, who has been with Turkish and Kurdish leftists and activists, who has been with activists in Europe and Central America, and with indigenous cultures in the US (Hawaii and the mainland), Europe, Turkey, and Japan, who has taught and done research, I understand such notions of war and humanity, to be taught and molded into people.  Similarly, the nuclear family model, and individualism’s stranglehold on globalization’s desire, has not proven to work in the serial killing heaven (the United States), nor has the community-oriented cultures proven any better in the killing fields of nations professing to be community-oriented.

There are no easy answers, nor do I profess to carry solutions.  But I think some things work for a wider group of people of difference, with values and worldviews that are not understandable or tenable.

Moreover, I understand that some people are not interested in a better world, or ethics, or kindness, or love, or working together. In fact, many do not even understand these words.   If one doesn’t grasp that these realities are true, one can never be one professing a liberatory path.

I think that *Killing Diversity* is among the top 3 realities of our actions today, including the “value diversity” movement. Assimilation is at the heart of much of it all.  Accountability is fast-disappearing and it is much needed.

Toward this, I have a Beginning List of what I feel have been tested (by others and myself), and have been used through the ages in various ways, that would help towards a better future, leaving skills and ways.  Otherwise, we’re just repeating.

As a Black-Japanese Amerasian, and as one who reflects, studies, does research, and acts in relation to my life in relation to social oppression and post-colonial ways toward liberatory ways of informing toward a different future of the world from the present, I, of course have many things to say, like everyone else.

But I want to name a few *Basics* that I think are necessary to think.

These are not some deep internal brilliance, but culminating and always in process and changing, within my contact, immersion, and research in postcolonial social-cultural anthropology (which includes studies in post-structural, post-colonial, neo-Marxist, feminist, queer, and liberation thought in relation to history and action), Zen Buddhist training, intercultural communication, diversity consulting, sports training (volleyball), and diverse experiences in various work environments.

The following list of seven (7) things to keep in mind, is not meant to be complete (nothing ever is), but a First-Step way to test out a life-path towards change and ethics.

  1. Everything is Multiple.    Those who reduce everything to one thing, and are reductive in thinking, will be doomed to always be in binary wars.
  2. In understanding internalized modernism, which includes the notion of influence and missionary work (convincing others to our own truths, even if we name it “god’s truth”), to be a continuation of #1, relying on a single truth– we must seek to look deeper at such foundations that inform the way we form our truths, beliefs, and values — which often rely on creating victory over others, or excluding others.
  3. At the same time, Liberatory paths are *Not* about INCLUSION.  Inclusion into What?  The systems we have created after the world wars, are largely based on some type of genocide and ecocide.  Our pyschologies bear this out. Multiculturalism is most often a failure —because it seeks to benefit corporate interests and the interests of greed and privilege as opposed to justice.  Being “against” corporations would not  be liberatory either.
  4. No theory, worldview, structure, belief system, religion, philosophy, or panacea— can have “answers.”
  5. In fact, what we should do is to ask Different questions from the ones we usually ask— with foregone moralities and assumptions in place about how things “should be”). This means that our questions would also not focus on either missionary work towards some “world peace” or does not rely on victory and defeat dynamics.
  6. There will be very few, but always a few, of what we may call “Non-negotiables.”  If we have many, then we foreclose in interrelationship. Without interrelationship, in our present world, we continue alienation, dislocation, and enemy-making.
  7. Keeping CHLP in mind, would help in any situation requiring questions, responses, and action.  CHLP is  C (culture and group understanding of any kind); H (Historical development and factors of repetition, maintenance, and refusing); L (Language– which always creates factors of worldview, history, understanding, and communication differences and overlaps); P (Power Relations in any given moment).

This is a preliminary, short-and-sweet kind of putting forth some grounding ideas toward a future that is different.

I for one, do not think anything grand toward liberation is possible in our present world, but we can lay small groundworks in our own lives (individual and group) that will pave paths toward the future.

NOTES On TECHNIQUES for Deep Social Justice: White Supremacy & Critique


Lone Soldier

Through Killing, Peaceful nations are formed. The Intimacy between Killing and National peace is simultaneous in our world.  This is why we must unpack histories: To learn how things and ideas and identities have been formed and forged in power relations and false-unifications. To react in resentment and rage will bring more. Not doing anything will bring more.

Read more…


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