To my readers,
I know you come to this site for anime related content. The purpose of Anime Hajime is to help you find your next watch in a fun and welcoming environment. I never thought I would cover anything political here. However, what is happening in the world is too important, and for me, silence is not an option.
The protests in the United States and around the world are demanding a change to a system infected with racists attitudes and hate.
I will not deny that some of my past actions in life – whether they were intentional or not is irrelevant – have been dictated by stereotypes and ignorance. Every day I am doing what I can to better myself in this regard; by learning and listening to those oppressed and marginalized. I do not, for one second, assert that I understand what it means to be targeted because of the color of my skin. I do not know what it is like to experience that level of discrimination, nor do I think I ever will.
I am a white male. Although I believe I have worked hard to achieve everything I have, the luck of my genetics has, undoubtedly, allowed me access to more opportunities. But this privilege goes far beyond the kind of chances I have had.
I do not go to sleep at night, afraid that the police will break down my door and shoot me in my own bed. I do not have to worry about being asked why I am walking down a well-kept neighborhood. I will never have to live with the very real possibility that my phone will ring and learn that my child, should I have one, was killed while in police custody.
I do not live in fear. Unfortunately, far too many do.
In the past, I have said that all are welcome here at Anime Hajime. That is no longer the case.
If you are someone who supports hate, if you celebrate racism, if you openly discriminate based on another person’s skin, language, culture, or physical attributes, then know this:
Anime Hajime is closed to you.
But, if you are willing to listen and learn and grow, then, by all means, these doors are always open. Now, I don’t expect to change minds or discuss racial issues through anime reviews; that is not the purpose of this site. Be that as it may, I will do what I can to ensure that your visit here is safe and that you can enjoy this fandom in peace.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. If you wish to continue, the following covers my recent experience at a Black Lives Matter march in Osaka, Japan. What I saw that day was incredibly powerful, and I hope I can express to you why it is crucial that we all, at this moment, must stand as one.
Regular content will start back up again on June 15, 2020.
Stay safe out there,
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On June 7, 2020, I had the privilege of joining a Black Lives Matter march in the great city of Osaka, Japan.
This is how it went:
From the announcement of the event to the actual day, there was about, maybe, a week’s worth of preparation. I am connected with a lot of people who regularly do volunteer and event planning work, and thus, I expected to have some acquaintance with the majority of participants. But as June 7 got closer, it started to appear that this was going to be much bigger than anyone could have predicted.
As a side note, this was the only time I used the hashtag Black Lives Matter (and it appears I accidentally added an extra “T” and an unnecessary “S”). Someone pointed out to me that I should leave that indicator alone because groups like the NAACP need it to get necessary information out. Therefore, from that point onward, I exclusively used the events own #BlackLivesMatterKansai.
The idea that white supremacists would be in Japan makes no sense to me, considering this is an Asian country. But then again, I don’t think I can ever fully understand what is going through the mind of such a person.
Racism is not exclusive to the United States. It is a huge problem here in Japan, too. Essentially, if you are not full-blood Japanese, your life here is considerably more difficult. You might be fine if you’re a white American or Western European male, but that is a debatable “might.”
I can’t tell you how many instances I’ve heard of from my black friends, who work in Japanese schools, who have had their hair touched (without permission) from both students AND TEACHERS. One of the more enraging encounters I’ve been told was about a student rubbing a black teacher’s skin because the kid thought it was “dirty.”
This was one aspect that dampened the day. Everything that is going on is occurring during the worst pandemic the world has seen in nearly 100 years. People who have been negative of the march – and there have been plenty – have been infuriated by the fact that we would risk the spread of COVID in Japan because some person in America died.
Those marching knew that coming out this day could feed the continuation of the virus. However, a chance for lasting change is here now. As many precautions were taken as possible, but if this movement were to wait for things to settle down, it could very well be too late.
With the start of the march only thirty minutes away, the crowd had become massive. It blew any expectations I had out of the water. In the Tweet, I said 1,000, but by the end of the day, 2,000 didn’t seem far fetched.
Again, the march organizers, with cooperation from the Osaka police force, did what they could to prevent the spread of the virus.
Still, it was inspiring to witness the diversity in the crowd. The foreign participant numbers weren’t shocking, but seeing just as many Japanese people turn out was something I’ll never forget.
There was a good mix of English and Japanese signage. My own Japanese reading ability isn’t fantastic, but it was unmistakable what people were trying to say. And it wasn’t foreigners holding up English and Japanese with Japanese. Where a person was from didn’t dictate what language they used.
June 7 was hot. The Sun was out, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day, yes, but with the combination of asphalt and buildings blocking the wind, the heat was not fun. However, the organizers did a fantastic job of making sure everyone stayed hydrated.
It was only when we were passing the consulate did it dawn on me that this was the natural route to take. Yes, racism is international, but seeing the US federal government’s response, particularly the Trump administration’s response, to the protests has been both embarrassing and terrifying.
I wish this guy were a joke, but no, he was there. He had been making a stink a few days before the march about instigating violence (he even threatened to release his German Shepard on the crowd). But for the life of me, I can’t remember his name. Plus, he was only one guy, so his incredibly quiet taunts were easily ignored.
There was not a single violent incident that day.
It is possible these guys just happened to be out the same day as us, but I doubt it.
For those who don’t know, there are still people in Japan who want the country to return to the militaristic style seen back during the days of the Empire. Keep in mind; this was the same system that was responsible for countless atrocities in both Korea and China before and during the Second World War. The same atrocities the Japanese government has never apologized for and treats as though they never happened.
What more needs to be said about that?
As the day went on, bystanders watching either made their approval known or actually joined in with the march.
I even heard how some adults, with children, went up to the police to ask what was going on. That was the whole point of the event. We wanted to spread the message.
Hands down, this was the moment that encapsulated the day.
This entire crowd, in complete silence, took a knee for nine minutes. The same nine minutes a white police officer used to crush an unarmed, non-resisting black man’s windpipe.
Holding this position for that long wasn’t comfortable. However, the reality of what was happening couldn’t have been clearer. No matter what discomfort I might have been feeling, at least I was going to be able to stand back up at the end of it.
For my American readers: Election day is Tuesday, November 3.
I will be voting by mail in Japan, so for those who are in the States, there is no excuse not to go out. The days when not voting as an act of protest are gone. If you choose to stay home this November, you are choosing to keep the system the way it is.
It doesn’t matter if your preferred candidate isn’t going to be on the ballot: Vote. I can’t promise you what will come with someone else in power. But don’t go fooling yourself. The last three years have proven what will happen if the people currently in power, remain in power.
Silence is not an option.