Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Aoyama Michi Music Video: My First Black-Japanese Amerasian Entertainment

Growing up in Japan in the 1950s and 60s, there were a handful of mixed-Japanese (haafu– as we are called nowadays) shown on television. Even more rare were Black-Japanese. I, as you know, use the term “Amerasian” to refer to most of us (not all) mixed-Japanese in the postwar period, as our identities were directly linked with war, the U.S. and Allied Occupation of Japan, and the globalized nation-making period where race played an integral part.  Issues of ‘haafu’ differ today, as Japan has been thoroughly divested of a direct relationship to war and occupation–although it is profoundly linked with the present-day idea and life of Japanese-ness.  For us mixed-Japanese Black Amerasians, the appearance and sounds of Black-Japanese entertainers was both an incredible surprise and joy, but also a reminder of the disdain people had for mixed-Japanese during that time. Of course there were some Japanese who thought it nice and normal, or good. But the majority turned away with a disgusting look upon seeing us.  Sometimes even our own mothers.

One of the strongest memories of mine, was seeing, for the very first time, a Black-Japanese “konkestsuji” (the pseudo-scientific term for haafu love-child) person on television, alone, without a plot. It was 青山ミチ Aoyama Michi and her song: 叱らないで Shikaranaide (don’t be angry with her), which was released in 1968.  Although she became popular with her first big hit in 1963, this, her third release, was the one I remember and was the first time I had seen her on television with an eye toward my identity.  When I was younger and saw her, I didn’t think of her as “different” but recognized her as “someone like me.”  (continued below the video)

 

When this song came out, I felt that she was singing about me.  When I met with a few of my other haafu friends, they felt the same way and we loved this song.

The song and the images of her on television, evoked many things then, and nowadays, many things to reflect on.
Noticing that Black-Japanese as well as many white-Japanese haafu, were more sexualized in Japanese culture in those days (and perhaps even now), is evident.

In many advertisements featuring Aoyama Michi, her cleavage and her legs were often prominent. However, there was a tendency to whiten her, to make her “less dark-skinned.”  As well, her hair was straightened to hide her “kinky” African-American hair. She herself, was admonished by many to look as white as possible to be accepted.  Back then (and even today in East Asia) these are words that ring true.  It should make us think of our society. Also, to think of how her life must have been, trying to make it in the industry. But it was not tragic or dark, just harder. There were many, including her agents, etc, who wanted her to succeed, knowing that life in Japan, in the public limelight, would be excruciating at times, but must be endured if we are to follow our dreams against all odds, within a racist, sexist milieu.

The song definitely had, as most songs do, different interpretations depending upon the listener.  This song was generally heard through two main meanings:  1) was that in the refrain, she says “Maria-sama.” So in relation to Christianity and the Christian minorities in Japan, this was also a song that they especially loved and could connect with the appeal to forgive the girl who does “wrong” in society and to not be mad at her.  Essentially a prayer to Mother Mary.  I knew some Japanese Christians at the time, who kept their beliefs secret for fear of being bullied, who loved this song, along with us haafu.

The other interpretation which my haafu friends and I interpreted this to speak to, is the Amerasian version. Many of the street kids that were Amerasian, whether white or black haafu, could relate to the constant desperations and exclusions and violence we often encountered from the Japanese folks around us, both other kids and adults. After being tormented for weeks, there would be a breaking point and fights would ensue (my friends went through this alot, whereas I would usually retreat into my room and not deal with others). After the fighting, the Amerasian kid, of course, would be  blamed for everything and be punished. The song reminded Amerasians of the nuns at Christian orphanages in Japan, who were most often entrusted with the Amerasians left behind by the American (and to a lesser degree the Australian and British) Occupying male soldiers and the beleaguered and enraged/depressed and/or shamed Japanese mothers. The lyrics pleading for the nuns to not be mad at that child for creating trouble.  It was not only about children. The same hierarchies and abuses continued (and still does today in most of Asia) into adulthood. This was a scene that was not only imaginable by the haafu living in Japan in those years, but us Amerasians lived through these moments over and over again.  Don’t be mad at her.  Don’t be mad at me, we’ve lived through unimaginable heartaches—as the lyrics go.

This is a memory, strongly imprinted in many of us Amerasian body-minds since the postwar.  It is a memory-emotion we wish we didn’t have, and as well, something we hold dear, as a reminder of what we have survived and unrecognized by others.  Translation of LYRICS – below:

叱らないで
青山ミチ
作詞:星野哲郎
作曲:小杉仁三あの娘がこんなに なったのは
あの娘ばかりの 罪じゃない
どうぞ あの娘を 叱らないで
女ひとりで 生きてきた
ひとにゃ話せぬ 傷もある
叱らないで 叱らないで
マリヤさま
あの娘が戻って きた夜の
外はつめたい みぞれ雨
どうぞ あの娘を 叱らないで
夢をなくした 小鳩には
ここが最後の 止り木よ
叱らないで 叱らないで
マリヤさま
あの娘の涙は うそじゃない
うそで泣くほど すれちゃない
どうぞ あの娘を 叱らないで
なにも言わずに 十字架の
そばへあの娘の 手をひいて
叱らないで 叱らないで
マリヤさま
That girl did not become this way
all by herself alone.
Please do not be angry with her.
She has lived all this time as a girl alone
and has scars that she can’t tell people about
Don’t be angry with her,  Don’t be angry with her Miss Maria.
From the the night out there where cruel rains fall
she has come back
So please don’t be angry with her.
This place is a final stopping tree
for a baby pigeon that has lost its dreams
Don’t be angry with her, Don’t be angry with her Miss Maria.
Her tears are not lies
She has no need for fake crying
Please don’t be angry with her
Without saying a word, please take her hand near the crucifixion cross where we are
Don’t be angry with her, Don’t be angry with her Miss Maria.

The Endurance of Cultural Supremacy

foggy-mountain-peaks

 

The New Year has come and gone. In the United States, there seems to be a massive emotional panic and a wrinkling of the brow, a re-visiting of histories of the past that seems to have returned to supremacy.  White supremacy. In the United States, you had really dumb views such as “we’re post-racial” and other forms of denial, mostly invented by those who do not want to face, much less shed, their own white supremacist privilege. Privilege is often made evil in this scenario, by many who want to bark and bite at any authority or  past traumas. So between vengeance and the will to maintain, the different sides prop up the continuing and enduring forms of supremacist ordering. All around the world, however, each nation, must deal with this phenomenon. The endurance of supremacies by a certain group, a certain way of considering the world, a certain array of making the world make sense, which has always exploited and twisted and killed some of those that the system wants gone and changed to suit its existence. Some would point to nature and science, and call it “natural.” Many many ways to rationalize it, make it stay–whether enemy or our mirror.

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Scars: Inter-generational Perpetration

 

Ginza 1951 - Men's Shoes - Werner Bischof
Black-American soldier waiting for a shoe shine by Japanese in the Ginza district of Japan during the Occupation of Japan, 1951. One should think of what this means for people and cultures. Photo: Men’s Shoes – Werner Bischof

 

Currently, there are many articles regarding the passing down of trauma in DNA. I am particularly focusing on trauma as a result of war, genocide, mass violence, and social oppression leading to refugee-making and exile, as well as such things as domestic violence. Inter-generational trauma is real. I did not need a scientific research paper to tell me this. However, as usual, I find that this kind of research, and these kinds of articles, have contradictory effects, like mostly everything in public life. Especially, if it has to do with oppression. Thinking about my own life, and the trajectories from what I know of my father’s life and mother’s life, and their parents’ and the conditions through which they survived and thrive, I see many issues. For now, I want to discuss five (5) distinct ones first, in relation to this “thing” we are beginning to mainstream: intergenerational trauma, the internal scars passed through time. The five I want to mention here are:

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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.

Enjoy.

DISPLACEMENT – Everyone’s Postcolonial Condition

Black Amerasia Diaspora by Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd
Black-Amerasia-Diaspora by Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd

Displacement is a condition of being out-of-sorts, dissociated, gnawingly empty in some portion of something or some place or as Self.  Displacement, from a cultural studies, anthropology, sociology point-of-reference, can seem “normal” and “everyday” precisely because we live in the post-colonial condition.  Decades and decades of colonialism, globalizing white heterosexist patriarchies.

 

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New Video posted on YouTube: “BLACK PACIFIC ELEGY”

Here is the second installment of my video series.

It is a visual poem.  Read, listen, feel, think.

Hopefully you will be curious, look up information and terms you don’t quite know or understand.

Be outraged?  Become more understanding? Curious?

Watch this in HD for the best view!

If you prefer VIMEO – the same video is here: https://vimeo.com/153967699

Marshall Islands Nuclear Displacements – Al Jazeera Article: Invisible and Ignored Oppressions by the U.S.

FOR USE WITH FEATURE PACKAGE FOR MONDAY, JULY 15--FILE--An advance team of Bikini men board a landing craft to assist U.S. Navy Seabees in building new homes for the islanders on Rongerik. The Bikinians had to evacuate their island before "Operation Crossroads," the U.S. military's nuclear test blasts at Bikini atoll in July, 1946. (AP Photo/file)
An advance team of Bikini men board a landing craft to assist U.S. Navy Seabees in building new homes for the islanders on Rongerik. The Bikinians had to evacuate their island before “Operation Crossroads,” the U.S. military’s nuclear test blasts at Bikini atoll in July, 1946. (AP Photo/file)

 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the recipients of United Statian democracy with the Atomic Bombs dropped. Japan, like Korea would later, had almost all major cities destroyed in daily bombings on them in the great second world war. Now it was Hydrogen bombs. How large would the “democratic” United States build their destructive powers?

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K-Pop Blorean Upcoming Star: Lee Michelle (이미쉘)

0 michellelee

Like most other Asian nations where American soldiers have tread, there are born the babies from the union between the local women and American servicemen.  In Korea, Philippines, Okinawa, Mariana /Solomon Islands, former South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.– the Americans have ‘fun’ there, and then go back to the Mainland U.S.A. to join their American families (or are single).

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