Regarding the article “Don’t just celebrate black history, be black history” in the Feb. 22 edition, when Baye McNeil writes “remember that every day — not just the 28 or 29 days of February but every single day — is Black History Day in Japan,” I almost spit my coffee all over my laptop screen. It’s just too silly to take seriously, and I say that as a black guy living in Tokyo.
I agree slightly with the sentiment. It is a bad idea to suggest that we should only care about certain groups of people’s history one month out of the year. An educated person tries to understand all of history throughout every month of the year. There aren’t enough months for all the different groups that might want their time in the spotlight anyway.
But more to McNeil’s specific idea — that we should be pushing the importance of black history in Japan “every day” — I just don’t see the point. Japanese people care as much about black history about as much as Africans care about Japanese history. In other words, not much, and that’s their prerogative.
Why should Japanese people be expected to care about black history, or Persian or Icelandic history for that matter? They seem to be doing just fine with their centuries-old homogeneous culture. It could make sense if there were a desire to take in more African immigrants, but I don’t see the Japanese clamoring for that, and I don’t blame them; recent history hasn’t done much to bolster the idea that absorbing hundreds of thousands of Third World foreigners is a great idea.
When I went to America as an immigrant, I made a point to learn its customs and assimilate. Every day was “American History Day” for me back then. Now, every day is “Japanese History Day.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.