(Right: Lou Jing and Ariana Miyamoto) Image sources: Hindustan Times and Crunchyroll
Do the names Ariana Miyamoto and Lou Jing ring a bell? For most people, probably not.
Lou Jing made heads turn in China after appearing on a reality TV show; she is a Blasian- as in half- black, half Asian. Her father is African American and her mother is Chinese; Ariana's parents are similar; she has an African American father and Japanese mother. She was the winner of the recent Miss Japan 2015 beauty pageant and her win prompted verbal abuse and criticism from critics and some Japanese people because of her Afro-Asian identity, going as far as accusing her of not being Japanese enough.
In the wake of the fiasco surrounding Miss Japan winner, Ariana Miyamoto, people have gone on record to say how Japan is a very homogeneous society. Well, the same applies to many Asian and most African countries that have homogeneous populations; when you live in a country where everyone is of the same race, it is assumed that there is very little chance of racism happening. But when you are part of a tiny racial minority compared to one group that is larger than the other groups, the chances of experiencing racism in a country, is huge.
The controversy over Ariana Miyamoto's win just goes to show that racism doesn't just occur in places like the UK and US: countries with multicultural populations. Homogeneous countries are and can also fall foul to racial discrimination, prejudice and intolerance. Asian and African countries - for the exception of say South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya - do not deal with or experience multiculturalism, because such a thing rarely exists in those regions, due to the lack of immigration. Sure they are used to foreigners and visitors from overseas on holiday, but when it comes to individuals born and bred in those countries and being of a different race to themselves, some understand - & many do not understand and sadly choose not to be understanding about the concept and importance of diversity. Being born, raised and lived in London as a British born Chinese, I had experienced my fair share of racism in my daily life, whereas native Chinese in China and Hong Kong, they don't really know what it is like for people like myself, who are born with 2 identities. Until they come and live in the UK and see that racism does exist and is real.
Identities are so complex - just when you thought you know it all, by being White/Black/Asian/Latino or whatever, there are other elements that come into play as well. Such as your nationality. Race is just one part. Black/Latino, Afro-Asian, mixed race, biracial. With Ariana Miyamoto, it is downright sad and horrendous the way she was treated by some anonymous posters online, whose ideal image of being Japanese is being light-skinned with slanted eyes etc. They don't consider half-casts, mixed race or biracial people, who were born in and are from Japan as being Japanese enough.
I don't care what race you are, or what colour your skin is - if you are born in that country, or have lived in that country for most of your life, you are technically British, American, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Canadian etc regardless.
In the U.S in particular, there is a considerable number of Blasians living in the country; their identities is half African- American and half Chinese/Korean/Japanese in terms of physical appearance.
It really tells you something when certain homogeneous countries go out of their way to bash the likes of America and UK and calling them out on their racism towards Africans and Asians (which happens still unfortunately & I find it appalling), - when these same homogeneous countries single out and target bi-racial and multi-racial individuals such as Ariana Miyamoto & spewing their racist, anti-Black/White venom, all because they don't look 110% Asian, just like the rest of the country. The hypocrisy is startling, racism and bigotry can not be tolerated under any circumstances; Japan, China, Hong Kong and the others need to wake up & face up to the realization that in the next 5, 10, even 50 years time, more and more bi-racial and mixed race babies will be born in those respective countries.
The Eastern perception that Blacks and having dark skin is seen as 'dirty' or whatever, is unfortunately deeply rooted throughout history that dates back centuries ago. It is deeply offensive and beyond ridiculous. Beauty comes in all colours, as well as shapes and sizes; although the real beauty lies in inner beauty that goes beyond the physical -ness of it all.
Japan is a country that prides itself as a society being 'pure' and unique that is not so similar to other countries. By this, I am referring to the fair skin, the slanted eyes, dark hair, you name it. It is the framing of an homogenous 'myth' of looking 110% Japanese by appearance against the multicultural Japan of not resembling being Japanese, because they are of say, mixed-race, biracial origin.
As much as countries such as Japan excel in areas such as technology, from a social and racial standpoint, a lot of the people have very narrow-minded views when it comes to ethnicity. If you don't look like them, according to them, then you are not Japanese enough. Elsewhere in countries with large ethnic populations and diverse communities, identity these days is much more less to do with the colour of your skin. It's about who you are as a person, the type of person you want to be and other things. The African and Asian continents needs to understand this.
Ariana's tale and triumph is pretty remarkable - she has turned a couple of heads - for all the right reasons, as well as evoking some hostile and nasty reactions around Japan (which were totally undeserved and uncalled for) - her victory will hopefully be a sign that having a more multicultural Japan is no bad thing, whatsoever.
If it means changing Japanese people's attitudes, then for the sake of the country & making them less close- minded, then definitely.