Buckaroo Banzai & Brothas From 8th Dimension - An Analysis of the Imported Hip-Hop based identity of Blacks in Japan
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JENNINGS | 1 Dudley Jennings Jr. Professor Justine Van Meter HUM289CS December 14, 2013
“Buckaroo Banzai2 -‐ The Brothers From the 8th Dimension” SEEING MYSELF IN A MIRROR OF SOMEONE ELSE’S MAKING: An analysis of the imported hip-‐hop based identity of Blacks in Japan
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INTRODUCTION “Culture is not your friend. It insults you, it disempowers you, it uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture” -‐ Terence McKenna, “Valley Of Novelty” The struggle to create, and more importantly, implement a true version of oneself is the Gordian Knot that all colonized people endeavor to untie. The British were known for introducing various foreign populations into their colonies to do administrative work, and subconsciously add another layer of cultural complexity and subjugation. These secondary ‘Other’ populations, utilizing the colonizer’s loaned tools, installed themselves above the natives. The ‘Third Space’ of Homi Bhabha arguably isn’t large enough. There are so many levels of interaction and outward ‘cultural’ expression in the modern era that a hyper quality has been injected into our daily proceedings. The concept of hybridity as a reality for the colonized psyche must under go a epistemological transformation as the colonized person moves through time and space. The various ‘classes’ of colonized now interact with each other in a variety of both spaces, and locations. Take London or New York for instance, the integration and separation of a wide range of formerly
JENNINGS | 3 colonized peoples are overwhelming. From living arrangements, to usage of types of travel and entertainment venues, to the artistic expression, everything is now hyper-‐cultural. The advent of the Internet, and the ease of use of YouTube, has allowed for unprecedented audio-‐visual assaults of cultural transmissions across the globe. In the case of the “Black” image, I ‘d argue that while there has been a victory for “Hip Hop” on the whole, the victory might be pyrrhic in nature. Hip Hop, as an analog for, dress, verbiage, and attitude, has ascended the American cultural ladder to the pinnacle. Events such as Anderson Cooper being able to say “Baby Mamma” on CNN with a straight face, to Ryan Lochte receiving medal wearing a ‘grill,’ to the president ‘dapping’ the First Lady on T.V., all go towards showing that Hip Hop has won. Just for good measure we were treated to Serena Williams performing the notorious ‘Crip Walk’ after winning a gold medal, at the All-‐England Club in 2012. All for the love. Sadly, in the analysis of the Black image, as represented through the choice of appearance and art of Hip Hop artists, we find one that is unbalanced at best. In his brilliant polemic “Eminem: The New White Negro,” Carl Rux simply states: “The final incarnation of the black male figure in a century that began with sharecroppers and first generation free peoples trying to avoid the hanging tree are their gun-‐toting,
JENNINGS | 4 dick slinging capitalist descendants. The black male outlaw identity is a commodifiable character open to all that would like to perform it.” The battle for identity that shaped the lives and works of Fanon, Foucault, Bhabha and many others, now has become an online game in which the world is awash in manufactured facsimiles of cultural ‘ideas’, which at some point crash into reality.
HYPER-‐CULTURAL IDENTITY – V.IRTUAL E.THNIC S.ELF The reality of the existence of these hyper-‐cultural identities, or roles, the more fruitful method of addressing identity and hybridity would be to acknowledge these spaces as concrete manifolds of expression and apprehension. Hybridity as a concept at this point is far too constricting. In step with the human mind’s movement into hyperspaces, the human cultural apparatus has also taken on a more frantic, and layered hyper dimension of it’s own. By simply practicing your culture full of the signatory modes of language, dress and disposition, knowing or unknowingly, you are presenting a virtual ethnic representation of your self. That image can be touched, felt, critiqued and at times pulled part by anyone. In this paper I will examine the concept of digital-‐colonialism of the “Black” image into Japan and it’s effects upon the people, and visitors. I spent 2 years in
JENNINGS | 5 Fukuoka, Kyushu, the southern most island of the archipelago teaching English. While living in the deeply rural farming community of Amagi-‐shi (translated as “Sweet Tree City”), known for the cherry blossom park in the center of town, I was first introduced to collisions of culture that would fascinate me during my entire trip. Seeing a teenager wearing oversized Sean John shirt and jeans, hundred dollar Air Jordan’s and a long fake Cuban Link chain on a bicycle roll past me was a shock for us both. Neither of us expected to see the each other. His reality must have been altered to see the person he was ‘being’ appear in the flesh. I was surprised and amused to see ‘this’ version of me riding a bike in a farming town of 10,000 people. For a while we just eyed each Other. During my time in Japan, I taught English in an area where no Blacks had ever lived or been seen, I worked and performed with Japanese Hip Hop artists and dancers, and attained conversational fluency in a few dialects. In addition, I am the first-‐born son of a family that immigrated to the United States from the US Virgin Islands in the 1970s. The diverse nature of faces and languages on offer in the Caribbean opened my eyes to many things. In the early 1990s I learned some decent Spanish just by practicing with my friends at the bus stop. Amazingly I used Spanish, Japanese, some words I knew in Tagalog, and Caribbean slang to open
JENNINGS | 6 doors to me while in Japan. My Caribbean upbringing contributed by ingratiated me with Black Africans, as well as non-‐black Islanders, East Indians, and Brazilians. I’ve always believed that language was the key to culture and nowhere in my life was this more real than in Japan. Humans however, are firstly and primarily visual and physical animals. The phenomenon of speech and its effects on thought come later in the progression of the human zoology. We see, and then we think. Through the act of thinking, meaning is injected into the image. Vis-‐à-‐vis, culture is still something that is seen first and most deeply. Visual cues antecede the thoughts, and neither is any good without each other. In his interesting work, The Archaic Revival, Terence McKenna makes light of speech by saying: “My voice speaking is a monkey's mouth making little mouth noises that are carrying agree-‐upon meaning, and it is meaning that matters. Without the meaning one has only little mouth noises.” The meaning of most images is something that the hegemony of the colonizer strives to control. Our thoughts on culture, race and appearance have a culture of their own. For most of us it is a culture with a history of lack of agency over our image. That lack of agency over the image is held in place by a hegemonic ideology in which the self-‐image of the colonized is not his to determine. Culture is not your friend.
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Stages of Triple Darkness: Africans, the Diaspora & African-‐ Americans “The black man has two dimensions. One with his fellows, the other with the white man. A Negro behaves differently with a white man and with another Negro.” (17) -‐
Franz Fanon “Black Skins, White Masks”
Introducing oneself as Caribbean-‐American induces a subset of deep seated imagery and mythology about what that term means. In non-‐Blacks it is an immediate vocal hyperlink to parts of their subconscious programmed with imagery, and back up for a mythology of assumed knowledge. It Others me twice over. Never to be removed from being the Ultimate Other, a man black in skin, the Caribbean-‐American is not a Black American. He or she is different. Blacks are usually treated as a monolith, without regard to ancestry or ethnicity. Yet, between 1991 and 2000 alone, nearly 400,000 immigrants arrived in the United
JENNINGS | 8 States from Africa, and another 1 million arrived from the Caribbean (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2003). (659) -‐ Baton, Qian and Lichter However, in the midst of Blacks this mode of self-‐nomenclature brings with it an immediate set of reactionary factors. The listener begins to run through their gambit of ethno-‐social avatars in their head. Based upon their context, or lack there of, their responses are all subtly filled with almost Orientalist views towards the Islands. The base level assumptions and misconceptions drift toward the mundane tropes of grass-‐huts, questions of how much dancing, drinking and weed smoking you do with your grand-‐mother, and what language do YOU ALL speak over THERE? Many times someone assumes that I am from Jamaica. Assume is too light of a word, I have told people that my parents are from Antigua and Tortola, in the British West Indies, and they have said “you all from Jamaica” within the next 5 minutes. The metaphysical ‘divide’ between even African-‐American Blacks and Caribbean or Caribbean American Blacks is wide. Baton, Qian and Lichter wrote a paper, “Interracial and Intraracial Patterns of Mate Selection Among America’s Diverse Black Populations,
JENNINGS | 9 “which takes a critical look at census data to draw it’s conclusions. When discussing this subject the authors wrote: West Indians often kept their accent and emphasized other cultural cues that distinguished them from African Americans (Model & Fisher, 2002). Like West Indians, African Blacks emphasized their foreign origins in their daily interactions with other minorities and Whites; they sought to separate themselves culturally from their native-‐born counterparts (Waters, 1994). (660) This is pronounced if the Caribbean Black engages in what is interpreted as uppity or know-‐it-‐all behavior. Franz Fanon brilliantly noted this concept in Black Skins, White Masks, “I have known – and unfortunately I still know – people born in Dahomey or the Congo who pretend to be natives of the Antilles; I have known, and I still know, Antilles Negros who are annoyed when they are suspected of being Senegalese. This is because the Antilles Negro is more “civilized” than the African, that is, he is closer to the white man; and this difference prevails not only in back streets and on boulevards but also in public service and the army. “ (25-‐26) The separation of the Middle Passage can arguably be seen as a two or three staged
JENNINGS | 10 process. There are those who went to South America, those who ‘stayed’ in the Islands and those who arrived on the mainland. The undeniable and indelible Negritude, of Fanon and his cohort sits as the base of all Black relations in this region. Nonetheless, the physical and metaphysical ‘gaps’ and distance are present today as transmitted through cultural interactions and idealism.
HYPER-‐CULTURAL IDENTITY – HOW TO PROPERLY WEAR YOUR V.E.S. Blackness is constructed as both sacred and profane, allowing its practitioners to climb to heights of spiritual release and to explore the depths of unrestrained sensuality and physicality. It is constructed as a venue through which non-‐blacks are able somehow to “find” and “realize” their “true” selves. -‐John Russell
Early Hip-‐Hop had a pronounced Pan-‐African feel, artists and fans wore dashikis, medallions and apparel emblazoned with images of Africa and Malcolm X. There were references to Africa, Egypt and slavery in the lyrics and snippets of Civil
JENNINGS | 11 Rights speeches interspersed throughout videos. Later as Dancehall broke on to the scene there was an infusion of this energy into Hip Hop, and rap artists began to incorporate Caribbean/Latino rhythms and cadence into their songs. Features including Shabba Ranks, Super Cat and many others signaled yet another cultural pastiche of Black folks. Old things resurrected and made new, while paying reverential/referential homage to the origins. This was a phase however, increased importance of first African and then Caribbean themes, only to recede to a previous baseline is indicative of something more subtle. Within communities of an ethnic disposition there is internal mimicry and internal wearing of the vest that changes in its value and reactionary power over time. Japanese people, and literally any other non-‐black race, has historical license to use Blackness to achieve these ends. Blackness express with purpose makes available to the user, rebellion, immaturity and freedom, simultaneously. To perform blackness is not simply a matter of the appropriation of musical styles identified and marketed as black. Blackness is identified as an attitude, a repertoire of gestures and movements, codes, salutations, and postures that signal—indeed, telegraph—difference and defiance. (23)
JENNINGS | 12 -‐
MTV went from boycotting rap, to embracing it with ground breaking shows, then being one of the first music video channels to push rap entirely off of its air waves. White artists frequently have a video, song, or even an album where they wore vest of the most recent and relevant cultural fad. But they go back, to some baseplate of Whiteness at some later date. The Black ‘button’ can be pressed by any non-‐black for an instant surge of cool, danger, and rebellious sexuality. Acting black in America has become an EASY button for making a statement. What that statement is, or means in reality is highly debatable.
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JAPAN ANALOG VS DIGITAL COLONIALSM
The history of several Asian and African nations attests to the effects of industrial colonialism and highlights the potential for information to become a tool in spawning a new breed of colonialism. Many nations, despite having a high level of education and culture, did not recognise the growth of industrial colonialism. Likewise, the emergence of e-‐colonialism may not be initially perceivable thus making researchers in this area complacent. -‐ Neetha Nambiar and L V. S. Venkatesan, “E-‐Colonialism -‐ The New Challenge of the 21st Century”
Japan has the curious distinction of being a country that has not been victim to colonization in the traditional sense, but that have been influenced by two different versions. Let’s call them Analog and Digital. In the Analog colonization, you have two steps separated by many decades. First, when Admiral Perry and his fleet forced their way into Japan, bringing foreign ideology, weapons, food and an immediate destruction of the mythical sense of self. Suzoko Morikawa in, “The
JENNINGS | 14 Significance of Afrocentricity for Non-‐Africans – Examination of the Relationship between African-‐Americans and the Japanese” lends some historical context by saying: During the influx of the Portuguese, Dutch, and other Europeans into Japan, the Japanese were told by these Europeans that "the Black ones" are by nature stupid, uncivilized, and vicious, and they began to be predisposed to the acquisition of negative views of people of African descent (Thornton, 1983, pp. 29-‐33). (425) Next, the actual military/colonial rule as imposed by the United States after WWII. The image of MacArthur standing next to Hirohito can not be over estimated in it’s effect on the psyche of the people. The image of Eurocentric, i.e. White supremacy in the minds of the Japanese may be considered a form of soft, or cerebral colonization. Morikawa expounds: “The Japanese perception of African Americans and all the people of African descent at that time was well connected with European chauvinism of the world.” (426) Following these jarring encounters, Japan’s policy of Sakoku 鎖国 (1) was obliterated. Having been closed to Western influence for centuries, Japan was now at the mercy of an impending socio-‐economic onslaught. The Meiji Restoration can undoubtedly been seen as an attempt to restructure itself as a modern nation in order to abscond from a certain colonial death as had been
JENNINGS | 15 suffered by fellow Asian nations. Embracing the West including an altering of their self image. In “The Social Perception Of Skin Color,” Hiroshi Wagatsuma explains: In the early Meiji period, the Japanese began their self-‐ conscious imitation of the technology of the West. Less consciously, they also began to alter their perception of feminine beauty. In their writings, they referred with admiration to the white skin of Westerners, but noted with disapproval the hair color and the hairiness of Westerners. (415) The effect of the Meiji ‘redrawing’ of history is an extended as well into the Black image. Caricatures dominate, and subservient position and postures are more exaggerated. Negative images of Blacks had persisted in some form as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, yet there is some debate on whether or not Japanese had an inherently negative image of Blacks, or if Europeans were responsible for it. (Russell 1991, Morikawa 2001). I’d argue that regardless of where the image stood before their arrival, the Europeans would have exacerbated in a negative way.
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CULTURAL COLLISIONS IN HYPER SPACE “Hip hop style, which is marked in Japan with black skin, is interwoven with the phallus as a signifier of a subtext of masculine, heterosexual body power. Young men seek to incorporate this power by remodeling them-‐ selves in hip hop style. The doubled perception of threat and desire produced through the fetishization of blackness is a product of contemporary Japanese representations of self and mechanisms of othering, nuanced by reforming gender and power distribution. (115) -‐ Nina Cornyetz,“Fetishized Blackness – Hip Hop and Racial Desire In Contemporary Japan” Upon arrival to Japan, most likely through Tokyo, the average person will undoubtedly be struck by the diverse scenery and immediate impact of being in a foreign place. Tokyo, Japan is a literal playground for the senses to be bathed in absolute human alien extravagance. The neon lighting is comparable to Las Vegas, the people watching is top notch and the just the constant movement of bodies and machines and sounds creates a cacophony of experience. You see Tokyo for the large part, but you also felt it’s current. Going abroad has always been a metaphysical journey for African-‐Americans. There is the unsaid physic pull that is felt as you cross the Atlantic ocean, in reverse,
JENNINGS | 17 and more the surface is the desire to experience your Blackness outside of America. There is a natural aversion that can be instilled in you growing up in America that makes you slightly apprehensive about European or Asian racism, yet the Japanese have a well defined idea of what a Black man is supposed to be: a ‘Hip Hop’, flashy dressing, slightly menacing and sexually virile man. From New York City. Nina Cornyetz opines on the use of the ‘Black Look’ by Japanese people in her article by saying: “Japanese black face, on the other hand, emulates hair and clothing styles (akin to the "white Negro" phenomenon in the United States) but also fetishizes skin color in an attempt to mask the Japanese self with a realistic black visage.” (114) In a magnificent feat of digital colonialism running headlong into a culture incubated though self-‐exile, you get the distinctly Japanese version of cultural appropriation. Within the desire to gain familiarity with any form of outside culture, there is also a inherent need to get further away from the Japanese culture itself. The homogeneity of the country over centuries of time can not be denied, it’s affects are debated but the intensive manner in which Japanese people ‘wear’ Black culture can certainly be used to examine it.
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THE GAZE AND ITS IMPICATIONS FOR SINO-‐BLACK RELATIONS One of the things apparent to my young mind was that there seemed to be a lot of foreigners living and working in Japan, and Asia with little to no real reason. I mean teachers, who still to this day, can charge about $60-‐$100 USD per hour, and basically hold a conversation with a group of 10-‐12 people. There are athletes to be sure, but there are band members and performers, singing in English to all-‐Japanese crowds, and making a living. I’ve met an unsigned rapper from New York, who moved to Japan to ‘make it’ and had been there for 4 years when I met him. I was never able to figure out exactly how he made his living, but I salute him. Saxophone players, dance choreographers, and instructors of anything not invented in Japan. There is an aspect of hero-‐worshipping of outside cultures, but it’s not without deeper action. Japanese people are also respectful of arts and tradition. So when some new meme comes on the scene, they search for authentic people to teach it. Many times you can easily identify the ‘artists’ who are selling some form of ‘gaijin’ culture to the Japanese. The workmanship is shoddy, but they don’t care, and their customers usually can’t tell. (Remember, my friends were told they didn’t sound like they were from NY, compared to the Africans with thick accents.) The Black experience is boxed within the entertainer, loud, comedian, and sexual tropes.
JENNINGS | 19 How much of Hollywood’s clear hidden desire to place black men in dresses is about a fetish, or a poor response to the institutional lack of black actresses? It is a point worth considering. As these images and their production make up a colored world, there forms are quite black and white. You seem to either get a warped self, or no self. Asians traditionally have struggled to get some sort of reasonable representation they agree with in the public space. Just like Hip Hop can’t encompass Black people, ideas like docile, small, lotus blossoms and gong sounds aren’t nearly enough to describe and represent the all of Asiatic peoples. The current state is absurd considering how much we can no longer ignore in terms of what man truly knows about one another. Imagery unquestioned becomes reality.
CLUB VIBE, FUKUOKA Similarly, the rapper Candle said that “You may not be able to understand exactly what they’re saying, or even what they’re doing, but you can tell when someone’s a real MC. It’s a feeling you get from what they’re doing.” (101) -‐
David Morris, “Minzoku Madness – Hip Hop and Japanese National Subjectivity” Within the Black Japanese community in Fukuoka, there was a deeper sense of knowledge, a better grasp on expression and dare I say it, a more legitimate
JENNINGS | 20 closeness to Blackness. Sasebo is a military base that is within a 3-‐hour train ride from Fukuoka prefecture. Having been in operation since 1946, there has been some sort of consistent American military; black, presence in Fukuoka since then. This undoubtedly contributed to the culture and atmosphere present upon my arrival in July of 2000. Shouts of ‘gaijin’ and ‘Blackman’ are sure to follow anyone of my complexion, but Fukuoka residents in the ‘know’ where aware of the different ethnicities with Blackness and they played them off of each other. There was a flourishing reggae scene populated by women of all types in their 30s, grooving to the latest reggae and the classics. Many of these women spoke English, which is nearly a female only skill at the average level. In my time I came across a large number of women who had learned English in order to travel and meet different men. (Kind of impressive if you think about it. Imagine a girl in LA learning Arabic or Russian to meet men.) In contrast to the Caribbean club owners, I met brothers from Guyana, and Jamaica, there were the Africans who ran the Hip Hop industry. Brothers from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and one crazy Angolan ran the apparel and clubs. For the most part American Blacks in Japan were soldiers. Interspersed with the soldiers were teachers like myself, travelling performers, athletes and the
occasional ‘real’ tourist.
JENNINGS | 21 Found on a prime spot just off of Oyafuko-‐dori, a strip of late night clubs and restaurants, is club VIBE. Within the club you had the expected image of Blackman, rappers from New York City. Then you had Ghanaian and Nigerian brothers, shop owners and hustlers holding down their regular booths and tables. Joe Wood sheds some more light on the issue by writing: “The clubs are owned by Africans, although the businesses are recorded in their Japanese wives' names, in compliance with Japanese law. The Africans actually cause American blacks considerable discomfort, in part because they can "pass" for American.” (53) The majority of the crowds are filled out with various groups from the base. Sasebo shore leave is a weekly event to some extent and when the ‘ship is out’ the club is quitter and the girls move around more slowly in the streets. (I’m not exaggerating) The brothers on the ship are largely from the deep South, Louisiana, Tennessee, “FlooridaH”, Atlanta and Mississippi. At least during my time there the contingent from below the Mason Dixon was deep and what was amazing was that not only did local Japanese girls speak English, and understand some Caribbean slang, more and more of them were getting a grasp on Southern Drawl fresh off the boat. This was a mixed Hip Hop crowd; versus say a Reggae crowd and club, which would never waver from that genre of music. In this club you’d get mostly Rap and
JENNINGS | 22 R&B and then an occasional dancehall tune from the time in which NYC and LA brothers would dance, and some Japanese girls would do their best impression of whining and grinding. Conversations with female friends hinted at a preference for Black guys from New York if you were looking for “kakoii,” and men from “Down South” if you were looking for more traditional. Many times I was absolutely staggered by the depth of the racial and ethnic interplay in that city. The city of Fukuoka, being place of first resort to this base led to it having a relatively long and involved history with Black people. This lead to a more nuanced and diverse interaction. They were aware of the differences in region in America, dialects, assumptions and some times even delicate racial issues such as ‘passing’. (1) This could be measured, through anecdotes and conversations I had, by learning the way that the Japanese in Fukuoka viewed Black as an ethnicity.
It must be said that the men generally veered to celebrity interaction, or a
real legitimate and equal friendship. Japanese culture naturally tends toward defined lines of interaction in all cases. So in dealing with the Other, you seem to get a shallow, awe filled, wild question asking person, who occasionally takes you places to display you like an item. On the other hand through chance of character, or past experiences with foreigners, you’ll meet Japanese people who will cut through barriers and get to know you. It must be said that the effort on my part to gain
JENNINGS | 23 fluency and semi-‐mastery of the language was invaluable in my research and results. Many times it was the only way to get some of the better data. One night after about 10 minutes of conversation an older lady asked me if I was African. Her question came from the fact that I spoke completely in Japanese and that the only Black foreigners who tried to speak all in Japanese were African. She admitted that my accent sounded funny, but the fluent Japanese was an indicator for her that I must be from the continent. However, they are all correct from the perspective of the Blackman as digital colonizer. Even as colonizer he is trapped, and enslaved not only from the outside but from within. Fanon, guides us down this tenuous path in, Wretched Of The Earth, by stating: “ He sets a high value on the customs, traditions and the appearances of his people but his inevitable, painful experience only seems to be a banal search for exoticism. The sari becomes sacred, and shoes that come from Paris or Italy are left off in favour of paxnpootiea, while suddenly the language of the ruling power is felt to burn your lips.” (Ch. 4) The results of European colonization are apparent. Many of the original vestiges of colonizer culture, idealism, religion and visions of beauty are nearly intact. The spoils of digital colonization of Asia and the World, by the neo-‐ Black image are still relatively lukewarm.
JENNINGS | 24 The Japanese culture won’t budge in any manner from its First Space. Japanese and Japanese and not even Koreans born there can ever be considered real Nihonjin. I could tell even then that given 30 years, perfect Edo-‐era language skills, a wife and bunch of Happu kids with dreads, and someone would still point at me and call me, “gaijin!” Imagine, I’d probably have been living there longer than that kid would have been alive, but guess what, he’d be right. I’m a foreigner. I’m not from there, and never will be. Yet, they can ‘wear’ and even ‘be’ me for a period, of time, and then simply take me off. Bhabha and Rushdie, Fanon are correct that once the act of colonization takes place, neither member will be the same. The image of Blackness, made into an eternal scarlet letter, has seeped into any medium of transmission of the Black image. It probably will never be removed from the negatives. Fanon’s fixation on white and black seems both small and overblown to a person living today. His comments on the varieties of Black would hit closer to home.
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CONCLUSION FROM THE 3RD SPACE TO THE 8TH DIMENSION THERE IS NO ESCAPE It could be argued that Fanon’s concept of race, identity and hybridity could do with a re-‐analysis. He can not be blamed for the monolithic view of Black/White relations that he created and espoused for it was credible and ground breaking at the time. As Blacks have moved from free, to chattel, to minstrels and low class helpers to finally, re-‐integrated members of society at large, our self image has been slightly altered and augmented as well. The journey through social and cultural hell endured by Blacks has left them marked both in metaphorical physical and psychological ways. Modern Japan is almost the real life equivalent of a video game world created for people to fashion and utilize various social-‐cultural tableaus. Imagine Second Life, in real life. There is already more of a freeness with culture as expressed by Japanese, especially the young. The collision between the always contentious Black body and image, and the self reflexive battle against Japanese hegemony is yet another one in which Black loses. There is no real control of our image in the
JENNINGS | 26 Japanese people’s eyes. It was established by the original invaders. Admiral Perry’s famous expedition to open the country was bolstered by a large retinue of military and cilivans, notably a minstrel team. From the moment he first stepped on Japanese soil in 1853 to present the letter from President Fillmore, Perry also sought to impress the Japanese with authentic black men. “On either side of the Commodore,” the Narrative tells us, “marched a tall, well-‐formed negro, who, armed to the teeth, acted as his personal guard. “ This influence was entirely along the line of the existing Eurocentric hegemony. Manufacturing a color scale in which they are above Black, but below White, the Japanese have a long defined ‘space’ in which they and Blacks interact. There is no solace or place to hide, for both sides of the coin. The Blackman however is dealt a final reminding blow due to psychic circumstances that exist. Black is not just an other, it is The Other. The paradox of science pointing to the origins of all mankind coming from a locale populated by dark peoples, the entire world model has dark skin tones at the bottom of its arbitrary social ladders. The
JENNINGS | 27 struggle for self-‐definition is constant and many Blacks exiled themselves in Europe both before and after the war due to better treatment. Inevitable, and invariably they’d all be reminded of their foreigner status inherited by either the Blackness or American-‐ness. The hegemony’s effect was to infect, incept or entirely reprogram the world a new way of thinking. Stripped bare and left to bake it sun the doctrines most essential communicated by the prolonged effect of European colonization are, White is right, Black is bad, but bad as in good. In conclusion Blacks not only have to inhabit and navigate this immensely difficult space of their visual image, but interlopers have free reign to damn rivers and burn libraries. From Al Jolson, to Elvis, to Miley, the degree of acting Black may vary, but there is money and fame in presenting the perceived view of Black people that non-‐blacks have, right back to them. Image is everything and the lack of the control the Blacks are allowed to have of their image, seems to have crossed over into the internet realm as well. New strategies for how to temper and guide this process are underway, but like most things involving the post-‐colonial paradigm, we are far behind the head start of the colonizers image making machines.
JENNINGS | 28 BIBLIOGRAPHY
Anderson, Crystal S. “The Afro-Asiatic Floating World: Post-Soul Implications of the Art of Iona Rozeal Brown.” African American Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, Post-Soul Aesthetic (Winter, 2007), pp. 655-665. St. Louis University. Web. Nov. 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25426983
Batson, Christie D. and Zhenchao Qian and Daniel T. Lichter. ”Interracial and Intraracial Patterns of Mate Selection among America's Diverse Black Populations.” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Aug., 2006), pp. 658-672. National Council on Family Relations. Web. Oct. 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3838883
Bhabha, Homi. “Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse.” Print
Bhabha, Homi. “The Location Of Culture.” London and New York. Web. Nov. 2013. http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Bhabha-LocationofCulturechaps.pdf
Blair, Sampson Lee and Stacey D. Ruf, Qian Zhenchao. “Asian American Interracial and Interethnic Marriages: Differences by Education and Nativity.” International Migration Review, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 557-586. The Center for Migration Studies of New York, Inc. Web. Nov. 2013. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2675880
JENNINGS | 29 Condry, Ian. “Yellow B-Boys, Black Culture, and Hip-Hop in Japan: Toward A Transnational Cultural Politics of Race.” positions: east asia cultures critique, Volume 15, Number 3, Winter. 2007, pp. 637-671 (Article) Duke University Press. Print.
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