When I initially pitched Black Eye to The Japan Times, I explained to the editors that my objective was not only to share my own ideas about life on these lovely islands, but also to offer readers a wealth of perspectives, from people of many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds living here in Japan. The only other thing they'd have in common is being identified, either by themselves or others, as black.

The diversity of black ideas and ideals I've encountered since moving here has been far more varied than I'd expected to find in an Asian country, and I'm of a mind that the more that those inclined to pigeonhole by pigment know about this diversity, the better.

So, for the next couple of months, my column's focus will be on several people I've interviewed to get their take on life in Japan: a lawyer, a singer, a restaurateur and an administrator. All four come from another fairly homogenous island nation: Jamaica. Some of what I learned from these ladies and gents surprised me, and I'm willing to wager that many Japan Times readers will be intrigued as well. But first, I feel compelled to give a little background, 'cause Jamaica and I go way back.