There were two doors labeled “handsome man” and “taxi driver,” respectively.Without thinking, I walked into the “handsome man” room (maybe a bit of vanity on my part) and waited.Growing up in Louisiana, I was raised in a society that sees me, a young black man, as inferior.
Some were clear: Walking down the street, perhaps a white woman would make eye contact with me before shifting her purse to the side away from me—a subtle reminder that I could be a criminal in her eyes.
Others were assumed: One of my college professors rejected my well-researched essay on the names in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, accusing me of plagiarism—as if I couldn’t have possibly written such a piece.
Lo and behold, only men of color were waiting there.
I was so upset by this, I don’t even remember how the audition went.
” Instead, I can be almost assured it’s because I’m a foreigner.
And I think that is a bit easier to swallow, especially because being black here doesn’t come with the same negative racial stigma.
And while it’s not completely inaccurate—my family does have Native American blood—I always have to explain that we have a wide range of colors among black people and darkness does not equate to “blackness.” Nor does the place we were raised.
Black people are not homogeneous and I do not serve as a representative for all of us.
Being black in Japan, for me, is far easier mentally than living in the States.
It’s rare when a problem occurs and I wonder: “Is it because I’m black?
Before I begin, I have to be extremely clear that I can only write from my personal experience.