Yeah…I’m still black. #japan

I always wondered when the other shoe would drop, when reality would sink in, when I would become not just a foreigner living abroad… but a black woman living in Japan. February 23, 2017 the date I will never forget, the date when I introduced a new textbook to my sweet, innocent, curious, lovable fourth graders and they all burst into hysterics when they turned to page 216 of their new textbooks and saw the cartoon drawing of Ben Carson.  The day no one would answer my question, “why is this picture so funny?”

Of course I knew the answer, but I was wondering if they knew the reason why their laughter was offensive, if they knew that what they were doing was wrong?  With the language barrier I sometimes like to wait and see how they process things, I don’t like to jump the gun and make assumptions. It wasn’t until my partner teacher (whose been working at the school much longer than I have been) walked in, heard the laughter, observed the expression on my face , and made a valiant attempt at damage control, that I snapped back into reality. I resumed class as I normally would have, and we had a great time writing stories and playing English games. However, the entire time there was something stirring in the back of my mind, a familiar feeling that I just couldn’t shake. A fact that I was certain of in America, and is proving true as I live my life abroad: no matter where I go in this world, I will always be black.

I love being black. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. I love my black skin, nappy hair, ancestry, and rich culture. What amazes me, even though it shouldn’t, is the worldwide misconception that being a black person is the last thing in the world one should want to be. To have to come home after work and ruminate on how I can express to my young students, in love, that black people aren’t the negative stereotypes that the media have made us out to be. That we aren’t caricatures to be laughed at and mocked, that we are a strong and proud people that have made numerous contributions to society. It’s exhausting, and tonight it feels like way more than I can deal with. But, I will drink a glass of cabernet, say a prayer, and hope that God gives me the strength and wisdom to impart some knowledge on my students tomorrow.

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