Not only was I unaware there were black "idols" in Japan, or black women who wanted to be idols in Japan — turns out, I didn't know what an idol actually was.
You'd think that after 13 years of hearing the word if not every day, then damn near, that I would get its meaning. But after speaking with Amina du Jean, aka Aminyan, who claims to be the first black American idol in Japan, I realized I'd made the same error people fresh from the outside world tend to make: that Japanized English words always reside in the same lexicon as their English counterparts. They don't. In fact, according to Amina, it's meaning is almost the opposite.
"In the States, idols are like people you might look up to who have excelled in some arena, but here in Japan an idol is a normal girl, or boy, early teens to mid-20s, who has appeal," the 20-year old explains. "The girls are supposed to have a kinda girl-next-door image. I think that's why girls get into idols. They can imagine having a friend like her, someone nice, and popular and fashionable. Whereas with the boys, they probably fantasize they could have a girlfriend like her. But basically it's just a genre of entertainment."