Culture, Identity and Militarism: Part 2
Kokujo 黒女 or コク女, of Okinawa, also have their parallels in Japan and beginning to in South Korea. Not only, do the kokujo (women who date black-american men) form relationships with their desired gender object, a look is often adopted.
The “look” is most often a combination of what is determined as “black.” There are the Okinawan and Japanese women who now put their hair into braids and afros, who wear African and Kwanzaa clothing, Hip-hop clothing, and gestures and mannerisms that are considered “black.”
It is interesting to note that this “black” is most often an array of the most obvious gestures, mannerisms, clothing and hairstyles that come from the visuals and sounds put forward into society by entertainment and advertising industries of of the United States and UK urban black communities.
Often, the Kokujo will go to tanning salons to darken their skin, to fit in to the look. There is also the feeling that they would be more respected and recognizable as not-Okinawan, non-Japanese, and “closer” to the Black “race” and therefore, desired more. And this desire moves them further from their own “race” and heritage and supposedly closer to Black.
In Japan and Okinawa, like in most of the rest of the world that has been globalized through our global economy via colonization for centuries, blackness had become inferior in social status, but as well, has been the site of resistance to whiteness and white supremacy as far as ideals, logic, ways of doing, creation of values, institutions, priorities in deciding what is “human.” Many mixed-race Black-Okinawan and Black-Japanese, as well as some Korean women and Mixed-Race Asian/Black, and Okinawans with some features from, let us say the indigenous black communities of Asia such as the Negrito peoples that are present in their heritage and submerged in contemporary racial and national labels, have taken on the admiration and mimicking of “Blackness” formed through this culture, as a site of resistance and empowerment in relation to the mainstream. The socio-cultural homogenization that has gone into a racialized nation-building process in resistance to and vying for superiority with the colonial west, produces racialized resistances, internalizing the divides of the dominant—in this case: Black/white binaries. White as superior, black as resistant.
Asian R&B is booming in Japan, Okinawa and South Korea, as well as the Philippines. It is just becoming in China. It encompasses reggae, R&B, rasta, and other forms of music and fashion and style that are associated with the global movement that is forming. It is interesting and troublesome, to me, at the same time that I acknowledge this as a form of resistance that must exist in our world.
I hope you realize, too, that I am talking about things that are largely unconscious to the people who play the role of “Black” in Asia. It is made legitimate through a globalizing “White Pacific” and its resistance by its very nature of American and European hegemonies, becomes a Black Pacific.
The White/Black prominence of resistance maintains its presence, perhaps continuing to demote Asian-ness, Japanese-ness, Okinawan-ness, Korean-ness, etc. in the Oppression Olympics of the global hierarchy of races. It plays out in desire and internalized forms. It is not a fault of the practitioners necessarily, as global/local conditions only pay attention to certain things while ignoring or demoting others. So what does one do? Where does one go to express difference?
I know quite a few “Black” or “African-Americans” who do not know their own backgrounds before their grandparents or parents. Some of them look as if there may be Native American or Asian heritage in their features. But there is no memory of that. Somewhere it is lost. For many reasons, as we take on Kokujo and Amejo, our local cultures begin to mirror the problems and concerns that have been created by the global hieararhy’s dominant nations and cultures. It seems that civilization is always, and almost totally concerned with, and becomes about a world order or colors and values, ways of thinking and being. Subtly and not-so-subtly, according to who we are, we participate in this struggle of civilization.
Desires and the taking on of things. With no other way. We repeat. The not-doing would mean assimilation, giving in, becoming that other we don’t gravitate to or even abhor. So what do we do?
Posted in: African-American, Afro-Asian, Afro-Japanese, Afro-Okinawan, Amejo / Kokujo アメ女 黒女, Amerasian アメラジアン, こんけつじ, ブラック パシフィック, biracial, Black Japanese, Black Okinawan, Black Orientalism, Black Pacific, Blackanese, Commentary, emancipatory social justice, Hapa, Japan, militarism, Mixed Race, Okinawa 沖縄, Racism, transpacific racism, women
I wanted to add: a couple of people asked the other day: “what does this have to do with militarism?”
Think about why the hiearchies of color and cultures exist and how they are represented. Resistance cultures in Asia– taking on “blackness” of the American kind, instead of paying attention to or taking on their own minority-status peoples—what is this about? It is linked with American Occupation of Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Guam, etc. etc. The occupation, done through war victory (the superiority of weapons and tactics of killing), of occupation assimilating the defeated into its own visions and systems, disappearing and perverting that which has gone on before, and creating inferiority complexes in that local, often passing themselves off as superior. So Japanese chauvenism, for instance, is linked to the legacies of centuries old Japanese warrior mentalities and nation-making through countless wars in their own lands–then mixing with whiteness a la U.S. Occupation that started with learning Japanese modernism via Portuguese and Dutch learning in Japan, for instance. War and militarism is embedded in the notion of dominant culture and resistance in the Asian countries where the U.S. has tread (and continues to indirectly control today).