For Huffpost, I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

Just wrote an article about raising my daughter, Kantra in Japan. It’s up here.

She’s thrived despite the adversities. In retrospect, it’ll give her an unlikely perspective. She has no idea how brave she is. I’m still debating on taking her to see Black Panther. “He’s got superpowers,” she told me. “You do to,” I said. “You don’t know it, but you’re using them right now.” “I am? What’s my superpower?” she asked me. “You’ll find out when you get older,” I said. “But my superpowers are pretend, right?” she asked. “No, Black Panther’s superpowers are pretend. Yours are real,” I said.

Watching her has inspired me and its forced me and my wife to grow in unforeseeable ways. Nothing humbles you like a determined child who doesn’t give a single solitary fuck about what you doing, what you need to do, or what you was about to do. “Daddy, play with me.”

Got an essay that’s getting published. Hopefully it’ll drop soon. Won’t say who yet, but its definitely love to get a good-look from your own community.

Peace.

 

4 comments On For Huffpost, I’m Raising A Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface

  • Hello Tracy. Ive read your article and it was really touching. I can’t pretend to know what you or your daughter goes through but your experience is very similar to what most immigrant experience. Especially in the early days in north america when it was much more mono ethnic/cultural background. I know the feeling of sticking out like a sore thumb because of your looks. As parent there is no sure way of raising a child, its a constant work in progress because our child evolves with us. I think for your daughter, though hard as it may it does seem to provide her strenght of character she wouldnt be getting any other way. Its a survival mechanism but also makes her more resilient and as a consequence as parents we need to up our game. I totally understand your desire to seek out an environment were she feels accepted. But a home is your family and you and your wife are already providing that regardless of where you are. Many are not so lucky.

    • Watching what’s going on in the states is beyond anything that I could express. Growing up in America, I had no idea how difficult it was for a lot of my friends’ families, but as a son of independent farmers, I could relate to a lot of the Mexican workers who picked tomatoes alongside my family. Though there was still a gauntlet of things that I didn’t understand. Living in Japan gave me some insight into that. Japan’s perception of black people is an amplified image of how America has historically viewed us, similar to how 45 and his supporters view immigrants. Japanese people are passive aggressive about their racism unless you’re reading their online comments, then they show their face.

      I don’t have any illusions about America being better than Japan. Neither one intended for black people to live in them. But I want my daughter to know that there are other people in the world that look like her and share similar experiences. I want her to know where her father came from. There’s other people like her even though it may not seem like that at the moment. She’s definitely teaching me a lot more than vice versa. I think she’s gonna be ok. I can’t express how proud I am. She challenges me, points out my contradictions even, and stays getting into things. I do need to up my game though. Its an everyday process and she’s always changing as her awareness expands. Experiencing it feels like the ground is shifting underneath men. Vertigo is always right around the corner.

      You’re right though. We are lucky and family is home, no matter where we are.

  • Hi,

    I am biracial Chinese / American. I have raised a biracial daughter and son in Tokyo. Shout out to your article. My daughter said that she really struggled and did not want to go to elementary school. It was tough. Middle and High School have been a lot better for her. You mentioned about the reaction of people to you on around Tokyo. When I was in the US, some of my black friends always said, “You do not know what it is like to be black…” I did not until I got to Japan. I remember talking with a friend in English on the train and an old lady pulling her bag to her chest. I suddenly thought, “Wow, that is what they mean.” … so afraid. I could only think how much more difficult it is for people who are black and I could empathize much more. So the article really touched me. I would like to think that things are getting better here in Tokyo, but understand your desire to raise a confident daughter. Good luck with your parenting!

    • I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment. At the time I was overwhelmed by the response. I appreciate your comment. Since that Huffpost article, my daughter has been stronger than I’ve been. Still, she looks to us for guidance. When she feels low, she asks me for a hug. When she’s ready to talk about her day, I try to stop what I’m doing to listen and ask questions. She’s taught me that I have to let her be her own person. The bedrock of my relief is that she’s a female. I think they’re stronger and perhaps, because she’s viewed as a black female in Japan, she’s less of a threat than if she were a black male.

      Japan is getting better, but the progression is awfully slow. With that said, I think people here, like anywhere, genuinely want to do what’s right. But what Japan and America has taught me is that if its socially ok to be racist, then people, however aware that they know that what they are doing is wrong, will do it anyway. The Japanese government isn’t helping matters and to speak out is socially unacceptable. I don’t pretend to be a scholar on these matters, but experience has been an education. My daughter is doing well though. Her and my wife are a lot more perceptive than I am. So I just try to keep up with them. As a black man anywhere in this world, it can be frustrating. If you’re unapologetic then your labeled “entitled.” Yet we are often seen as a symbol of empathy, sacrifice, and being cool.

      Thanks again for your comment. I hope your kids well.

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