Recently Digital Femme published two articles via MangaBlog) regarding Japanese manga and discrimination against black people. In response, Japanese blog Dekadenbiyori posted its own view on the matter.
The article looks at racial expression involving black people in manga through a Japanese fan's perspective. *Note that the post on Dekadenbiyori was written by a Japanese blogger for a Japanese audience.
Discrimination in Japanese Manga
I recently picked up an image from a manga. Can anyone tell what's wrong with this image? This picture has aroused criticism from a blog in the U.S. Can anyone tell (addressed to the Japanese fans) why this picture is being criticized?
If you actually expect people who are not white or Asian to purchase your books, this needs to stop. NOW. Seriously, the fact that I even need to type this is mind-boggling.
I'd rather be invisible than be depicted in this way. Go back to ignoring us.
- Cheryl Lynn
Sambo, I am?:
Since my post addressed to mangaka has been linked to, I thought I'd go into a bit more depth so I don't come across as some irrational ranting entity.
The racist image that I included in my original post? I plucked that image from volume seven of the manga Eyeshield 21. Eyeshield 21 is published in English for English-speaking countries by VIZ Media. The image I posted is from the English language version of the manga that is easily obtainable here in the United States. Volume seven of the series had a publishing date of April 4, 2006.
How many people were aware that this book contained a racist image that is humiliating to black people and still allowed this book to arrive upon American shores unedited? How many people saw that image, shrugged their shoulders, and thought that the feelings of black people were not worth the time and effort it would take to edit or remove the panel? How many people thought that the offensive image wasn't worth calling attention to because they have bitterly accepted the idea that the Japanese have embraced racist images that are humiliating to black people and will never relinquish their desire for blackface and depictions of Sambo?
I have to admit that I was one of those people. After all, this certainly isn't the first time I've come across racist images in manga. I simply shrugged my shoulders and believed that there was nothing I could do. If Japanese people wanted to embrace hateful images of black people then I had no right to stop them. What right do I have to direct the flow of another person's culture? And how could I be upset when they had no idea of the history and hate behind those images? I wasn't even angered by it. I was simply disappointed.
But now I'm angry. I'm real angry. Because the hate is now being shipped back to my shores to be immersed in my culture after black Americans have spent hundreds of years trying to shake it like a bad virus. And here it is again in a mutated form being packaged to our children so the world can tell them once again how ugly and insignificant it thinks they are.
- Cheryl Lynn
For me (the blog author), at first I couldn't understand what's wrong with this picture. It seemed that not only this [U.S.] blogger, but also many of the commenters regarded this image as racial.
Other cultures have other taboos. An expression that is fairly ordinary in Japan could be regarded has inappropriate in other countries. I can't agree with the opinion that "all manga expressions must not hurt anyone from anywhere in the world," because it's an extreme and unrealistic view. However, the Japanese people should be a little bit more careful in this case.
I don’t agree with some people's opinion that Japan is a very racial country, but I guess the misunderstanding comes from the lack of conciseness among the Japanese people. Japanese people should know what kind of expression would create problems.
It was said that Akira Toriyama was famous for ignoring racial expressions toward black people.
- Quoted texts from Digital Femme
- The controversial image came from Eyeshielf 21
- Itai News has more information on the matter, include other possible racial images.
Translated by T. Ohara