Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

To my readers,

I know you come to this site for anime related content. The purpose of LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews 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 LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews. 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:

LofZOdyssey Anime Reviews 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,

LofZOdyssey

* * *

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.

2 comments

  1. Okay while the message itself is debatable the problem with BLM is that what happened to George Floyd is not that simple nor was it as one sided as most have told you. It’s still a crime to be sure the officer who killed him was guilty of at least 1st degree murder but the problem is George Floyd was not innocent nor did he have the best history given he’s made a living being a repeat offender and career criminal since 2002.

    What ultimately killed him probably was the officer but not the overall cause due to the fact not only did he have a bag of substance that was meth at the very least and was using counterfeit money on a shop owner which was why the cops were called in the first place and on top of that Floyd was already high on his drugs according to the official autopsy. He had something in his system that played more of a factor to his death but that knee to the neck was likely the tipping point that made it worse whether he realized it or not.

    The other problem with black lives matter is that it’s focused on the wrong things. Telling white people or I guess your self you were the problem is not the issue everyone is born somewhere. Some better than others that’s just a fact. What you do is all your choices. There are black people right now who fight and and prove the black community can’t help itself unless they are willing to face their own problems that puts them in this mental star of thinking the system is against them.

    Yeah other countries are gonna be more racist than others. Japan does not have a clean history and even today their issues with foreigners is not strictly a black lives issue which is ironically what puts them above other countries when tragedy strikes them far as economical analysis goes and what reports they share. China oh yes they are without a doubt guilty of actual racism especially or at least the Chinese government is since I can’t speak for the civilains there.

    There are problems with every community and race out there but improving them has to be done with a clear goal and leader who knows and understands these issues best and is willing to say whatbtheybare even if it’s not comfortable to hear.

    Peaceful protests like this are fine but reading it this post shows that you don’t have all the facts or tried looking up the full story or learn who George Floyd was where yeah as everyone has agreed on his death shouldn’t have happened but the man wasn’t a model citizen or anything like that he was a repeat offender and it’s very likely had he survived he would still go to jail for possession of illegal drugs. Again. That’s not even accounting for how his victim from a few years ago who was pregnant at the time now and had her at gun point after trying to loot her house only to see people put him up like he’s a hero or a victim.

    The police aren’t the problem. They are law enforcement not the law makers. Yes like everywhere you go there’s gonna be bad apples and again it ain’t an exclusive thing to white people. You’re always gonna find someone who is rotten in some way. And lastly the reason the BLM movement is not the grwleat thing that is is cause one black on black violence has shown to be the reason you’ll find black people killed at least here in the US that’s been shown and proven to be the case time and time again. And it’s not a black lives matter movement if the movement is just gonna push away other black people who have a different opinion and perspective and in many cases prove things aren’t what they appear to be tot he point they called fakes or even get attacked on the internet. This movement isn’t going to change things unless people stop with the guilt and let go of the past history they themselves had no part in. You can’t move to the future unless you look at what is here now and it’s not the systemic racism stuff that’s being going around without proof. Take the time to listen and hear out others who see things from other perspective because they took the time to educate themselves on these things. Hell some if them grew up in exactly the rough neighborhoods you my have heard about. Forget whatever political alignment you are with and just listen to what others are saying. I’ll even point you to at least 3 that talk on their videos and various platforms that address why these issues aren’t what most think they are.

    Like

    1. I don’t know any other way of saying this. Your long essay comment was just filled with dangerous inaccuracies. So I guess I need to start from the beginning.

      Your first falsehood came in your very first sentence. The death of George Floyd may have been the sparking point for the current protests, but what happened in Minneapolis was simply the most recent incident in a long line of unjust acts police departments across the United States. And it’s not only the failure of the police. For generations, since the first slaves were brought to America, the system has been stacked against the black community.

      Second, the officer who killed George Floyd is charged with a more prudent 2nd-Degree murder charge. 1st-degree murder would suggest that the officer stepped out of his house to kill Floyd that day and in that way.

      Third, your notion that Floyd was “not innocent” doesn’t make any sense. The crime those officers responded to can now never brought to court since the suspected perpetrator is now dead. Also, any history Floyd may have had is irrelevant when talking about what happened to him on the day he was killed.

      Fourth, “What ultimately killed him probably was the officer,” is wrong. Floyd was killed by the officer who pinned his neck to the ground, crushing his windpipe. The official ruling of Floyd’s death is homicide, and the cause of death was by asphyxiation.

      Here is my source for that: https://www.npr.org/2020/06/01/867219130/george-floyd-independent-autopsy-homicide-by-asphyxia

      Fifth, “[The police] are law enforcement not the lawmakers.” Okay, and the officer who pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck broke the law by murdering him. Please show me the law that says it is okay for the police to kill an unarmed man.

      Sixth, “Like everywhere you go there’s gonna be bad apples.” I assume these “bad apples” you are referring to are police officers who abuse their power. Okay, so we need to hold them accountable for their actions, which is exactly what the Black Lives Matter movement is asking for.

      Seventh, from “And lastly the reason the BLM movement is not the grwleat” to “even get attacked on the internet,” was indecipherable. I’m not sure what you are trying to say. But, if you would like to learn more about systemic racism in the United States and why the opposition to that is what’s fueling the Black Lives Matter movement, then I suggest reading:

      Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi

      The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander

      Forget whatever political alignment you are and just listen to what others are saying. I’ll even point you to dozens more books and articles that discuss why these issues are exactly what most think they are.

      Liked by 1 person

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