How black Americans have been distanced from other black people

by Miho Tanaka

From two articles, “Not black, but Habasha: Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants in American society” by Habecker and “Ethnic and racial identities of second-generation black immigrants in New York City” by Waters, I found how black Americans were distanced from each other because of tension with other ethnic groups. Though second generation immigrants sometimes fit into black American culture if they interact with black American friends, many black immigrants de-emphasize their ascribed black racial identification and try not to be categorized as black Americans in the US (Habecker, 2011, p.1206). However many other ethnic groups cannot distinguish them from black Americans since their appearance is very similar to black Americans; therefore they tend to be treated just like black Americans even if they have strong identity of not being like them. In addition it is impossible for black immigrants to reform the “apparently immobile structures of America’s racial hierarchy” even though they make efforts on maintaining social distance from black American (ibid, p.1215).

I suppose how much they experience discrimination, and how much less opportunity they have are deeply connected to the darkness of their skin of color. In the Black community, the tradition of lighter skin and straighter hair are often considered to be in ‘better’ status (Williams, 2013). In this sense I can see colorism pretty much prevails in US society and the world, and their social or economic levels are often determined by how dark they are. I feel Japan is not an exception. For example Okinawan or Ainu people in Japan have been discriminated from the dominant group. Okinawan have darker skin compared with Japanese living in Honshu island and I saw Ainu people when I was in a junior high school and went to school trip, they had darker skin, too. Okinawan people are often suffering from noisy airplane of U.S. military and sometimes Okinawan girls or women are raped, and Ainu people had been segregated and now they are disappearing. I can see that Japanese society also adopts colorism.

On a large scale, we should notice how colorism forms the structure or hierarchy of this world. I feel the darker skin people have, the more poor area they live in. When we think of black immigrants who rarely assimilate into the other culture which white or lighter skin colored-people control we should think about how colorism effects on their lives and their opportunity and how it is sustained in the world.


Habecker, S. (2011). “Not black, but Habasha : Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants in American society” (pp.1200-1219). In Ethnic and racial studies. London : Routledge.

Waters, C. M. (1994). “Ethnic and racial identities of second-generation black immigrants in New York city” in International Migration Review. Vol.28, No.4, pp.795-820

Williams, C. (2013). Colorism : The war at home. Retrieved on June 13th 2013 from

Invisible Immigrants

by Ayano Tsukada

New York City is a city of minorities and immigrants. Unlike other cities like Los Angeles or Miami where one ethnic group makes up majority of the immigrant population, New York receives immigrants from all over the world. Their identities vary among the ethnic groups as well as within the groups. Here I would like to focus on second-generation Black Immigrants in New York City because they become invisible in two ways:

  1. The government does not track the second-generation of immigrants (They become Americans officially);
  2. The second-generation immigrants lack their parents’ distinctive accents and they look very similar to native-born Black American.

If they don’t tell their ethnicity, they can easily be seen as native-born Black Americans or act like native-born Black Americans.

But they don’t react to this situation in a same way. They adopt different types of racial and ethnic identities. Mary Waters, in her survey in New York City, found that there are three types of racial and ethnic identities adopted by Black immigrants: Black American identity; Ethnic or hyphenated national origin identity; and Immigrant identity. These identities are related to different perceptions and understandings of race relations and of opportunities in the United States. Second-generation immigrants with Black American Identity tend to see more racial discrimination and limits to opportunities for Blacks in the United States and disagree with parental judgements that there are strong differences between Black Americans and Immigrant Blacks. Those with Ethnic Identity tend to see more opportunities and rewards for individual effort and initiative and agree with their parents’ idea that Immigrant Blacks are better than Black Americans. Those with Immigrant Identity take a more neutral stance, but they are more like visible immigrants since they are likely to have immigrated recently and have distinctive accents and styles of clothing.

The interesting fact revealed by Water’s study is that these second-generation immigrants are aware of the generalized negative view of Blacks in the United States and yet some choose to be part of them while others try hard to differentiate themselves from Black Americans. What we can see from the fact is that they are helping to maintain the structure of racism in the United States. Second-generation immigrants with Black American identity are doing so by accepting the stereotypes of Blacks and those with ethnic identity do so by differentiating themselves from Black Americans.

So they are not challenging the current system.

They are making racism and colourism in the United States craftier and more invisible.


Waters, Mary C. 1994. “Ethnic and Racial Identities of Second-generation Black Immigrants in New York City.” International Migration Review 28(4):795-820.

Are Zainichi Koreans “foreigners”?

Anonymous student post

There are lots of ethnicities in Japan, such as Zainichi Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Ainu, Okinawan, and more. In spite of the existence of plural cultures for a long time, Japanese government had ignored their existence until the 1980s when globalization came into Japan. The Ainu and Okinawans had maintained their culture and language since 18c or 19c though the Japanese government prohibited them from using their language and sought to assimilate them.

On the other hand, Zainichi Koreans came to Japan as a result of Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945. During the colonization, Koreans were referred to as Japanese subjects. However, After Japan got independent in 1952, Koreans lost their legal rights as Japanese subjects and became ‘foreigners’. Some went back to their home country, but others decided to stay in Japan because of the confused situation of Korea such as Korean Separation or Korea War. Due to this, they stayed in Japan as ‘foreigners’ with permanent residence status, so-called ‘Zainichi Koreans’.

In 1965, the central government prohibited schools from teaching Korean culture and language to the Korean children, and the government policy was that teachers were to treat Korean children in the same way as Japanese kids. Because of this policy, later generations of Zainichi Korean were assimilated more and more. Now, most descendants of Zainichi Koreans were born in Japan and speak Japanese as their first language with little Korean language skill and many of them use their Japanese name not Korean name. However, they are referred to as ‘foreigners’. In this case, the question what does ‘foreigners’ mean?

Most Japanese people see ‘foreigners’ as someone born outside Japan and come and stay in Japan temporarily. Japanese government had been speaking out that Japan was a monolingual and monoculture state by making the ethnic minorities ‘foreigners’. That is the reason why Zainichi Korean were invisible ‘ethnic minorities’ for a long time. However, this situation changed from 1970s to 1980s.

In 1970s, Dowa problem rose widely in Japan and ethnicity became ‘human rights’ issue. Also, a lot of immigrants came to Japan as guest workers and ‘foreigners’ education were acknowledged in 1980s. These things had impacts on the Zainichi Korean policies. In 1991, the central government finally allowed schools to teach Korean culture and language though lots of policy changes had already occurs in local levels.

Due to these movements, Zainichi Korean were ‘discovered’ as ‘ethnic minority’ in Japan. By becoming ‘visible’, Zainichi Korean got explicitly identity as a Zainichi Korean not Japanese or foreigners. However, whether they chose which identity is their problem. Fortunately, I think they are easy to assimilate into Japanese society more than African people or European people because our culture is similar to each other and physical features are also similar. However, it is not only identity issue but also their legal statement issue. They haven’t got the citizenship and have been discriminated against in terms of education, housing and work. Even though the existence became visible, there are still a lot of difficulties for Zainichi Korean in reality.


Hokkaido Ainu Kyokai.

Lie, John. 2008. “Zainichi Recognitions: Japan’s Korean Residents’ Ideology and Its Discontents.” The Asia-Pacific Journal >

Okano, Kaori. 2006. “The Impact of Immigrants on Long-lasting Ethnic Minorities in Japanese Schools: Globalization from Below.” Language and Education 20(4):338-354.

Bilingual Education in Japan

by Misa Fukutome

In Japan it has become popular to send one’s child to a bilingual school along with the increase of foreigners. Hence, there is an increase of bilingual schools in Japan. However, there is a problem that occurs that the expectation of the parents and the children tend to misunderstand, because when the children are young and have not developed a sense of identity, going to a bilingual school is not a problem. Then children grow up and realise that they have their own identity and become more self conscious, which leads to the next problem of their imperfection of their second language they are speaking. For example if the children are going to a English bilingual school, because of their environment around them is in Japanese they don’t find the need to speak English, or having an education in English because it is easier in Japanese.

Yasuko Kanno wrote “Imagined Communities, School Visions, and the Education of Bilingual Students in Japan,” in which she compares 4 different types of bilingual schools.

The first one is an English bilingual school where the majority of the students have no bilingual background and their knowledge towards English is zero. The reason why those Japanese students are sent there is because the parents enroll their children in the bilingual school, because they believe that it is important for the 21st century children to be able to bilingual. However, the problem is that as mentioned above they have no use of English in their everyday life that their language perfection is very low.

The second type of bilingual school is Chinese-Japanese. Their curriculum is that they start off with mainly Chinese and then gradually the main focus goes to Japanese by the time the students are in junior high. This school is designed for the 4th- and 5th-generation Chinese children whose native language is Japanese. Not to to forget to mention even though most children attending are 4th or 5th generation, there are also children that have just moved from mainland China, and there is a minority of full-Japanese students attending this school. Here too the problem of the main communication language occurs, because of this system of fading into main Japanese courses their ability to express themselves in Chinese becomes limited.

The third type is the other way around in terms of main language, because this is an international school. If one looks at where the international schools are located, one might see that it is placed where there are a lot of international businesses, diplomatic work, or where there are hāfu (half-Japanese and half-foreign). Because financially those groups of people are able to afford expensive education, the children going there are expected to have a high level of English, since it is an international school. However, since the school is located in Japan, there are some Japanese programs such as arts and social studies, and of course Japanese language courses. Here the problem is that the western, or English-speaking students do not make an effort in learning Japanese, since at home they do not necessarily speak Japanese or they can get by in their daily life with English.

The fourth type of school is also focused on  location. There are Japanese public schools that are located in a community that has a lot of foreigners, who have mainly blue-collar jobs. Since there are few programs to support bilingual education in Japanese public schools, those schools must find their own solutions, including supporting the children who must learn Japanese as a second language by providing extra Japanese lessons, but those supports are limited.

In the end I would like to say that education is very important but I think we get off-track because of this idea of being INTERNATIONAL or BILINGUAL, so we do not look at our children and see what is best for them. I have gone through Japanese school (NOT BILINGUAL SCHOOL) and international school and what I have learned is that I am glad that I could perfect my Japanese first then my English, but I am not saying that this is right for all children. I imagine that it is very hard for the schools too, to make a curriculum for children who are bilingual and who are not, and the level comes into play too. We can always have ideals and expectation for the best but it is not always right for everybody.

Transnational Migration and Limitations

by Miho Tanaka

The activities of transnational migration are expanding every day and the immigrants’ social interactions and their relationship with their host countries is changing.

Since many African American’s diaspora started around seventeenth century, immigration to the U.S. and transnational migration accompanied with it has continued. Irish, Jews, Armenians and Greeks have settled in the U.S. as well as African Americans. Nowadays more and more immigrants arrive in the U.S. from mainly Asia and Latin America and seek job opportunity there. Each government of their host lands are trying to making ties with them in order to benefit from their immigration activity beyond borders. Levitt considers this phenomenon as long-distance nationalism that emerged from this current mainstream of globalization, whose processes tend to be de-linked from specific national territories (Levitt, 2001, p.202). On the basis of the changes of immigration in the U.S., Levitt addresses how policymakers should challenge these changes (Levitt, 2004).

I consider that the U.S. is one of the epitomes of immigrant issue in the world. A lot of people and ethnic groups have migrated to the country but the country also has many problems. Though Mexicans, Dominicans, El Salvadorans and the other immigrants can have strong ties with their host countries but non-immigrants do not have any connection with the other countries and they are losing jobs. Low-skilled people in the country may have their jobs taken by immigrants. However immigrants have some issues as well; for example some of them gradually lose relationships with their home countries, and if they assimilate to U.S. society culturally, economically and socially they willing to live and settle to the U.S. In addition the second generation often find itself as American citizens; therefore long-distance nationalism would be meaningless for them.

And most importantly the issue of racism is still large in U.S. society, and the U.S. society still allows domination by European Americans and sustains racism toward minority ethnic groups. At Western Michigan University, I took an Africana studies class and a social work class, which dealt with cultural and racial issues in the U.S. Through both classes I mainly learned how African American is racially discriminated in the society.

I suppose my way of thinking is similar to colorism but those whose skin color is dark tend to be targeted as an object of discrimination. Even if they transmigrated for such a long time they still cannot assimilate into their societies and their social status is threatened by newcomer of immigrants. From the perspective I found out a limitation of transnationalism, since the U.S. itself also has a lot of unemployed people. The problem would not be solved unless people change their racial tensions based on the skin color or appearance.


Levitt, P. (2001). Transnational migration: Taking stock and future directions. In Global Networks. 1, 3, 195-216.

Levitt, P. (2004). Transnational migrants: When “home” means more than one country. Retrieved on June 6, 2013, from

Transnationalism: the case of Zainichi Koreans, support and problems

by Yuriko Otsuka

In Japanese society, there are a lot of Zainichi Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians and other ethnic minorities who have been staying in Japan for more than half a century. In the case of Zainichi Koreans, Chapman (2008) wrote that from 1910, Koreans started to come in to Japan due to  Japanese colonization in the imperial period (as cited in Shipper 2010, p.58). Inokuchi (2000) said that many Koreans left Japan after losing World War 2, however about 620,000 Koreans remained in Japan (ibid). In 2010, the Ministry of Justice estimated that 600,000 Zainichi Koreans were living in Japan (as cited in Sooim, 2012).

Peggy Levitt (2001) says that there are 3 institutional actors that help immigrants connect to their home country: states, political parties, and hometown organizations. In the case of the Zainichi Koreans, I think the states and especially the hometown organizations are playing a big role in Japanese society to help maintain its Korean identity.

The establishment and prevalence of Korean schools is one example of hometown organizations and government involvement. According to the Chosen Soren (as cited in Shipper 2010, p.61), Chongryun (an organization for Zainichi North Koreans) promoted the ties between North Korea and Zainichi by building a lot of Korean schools, also agitating Zainichi Korean parents to enroll their kids in the schools they built (ibid). Chongryun’s Central Education Institute is said to be working closely with the North Korean government through the encouragement of not only teaching Korean and history, but also “loyalty education subjects”, which the government promoted strongly under the periods of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

I also had an opportunity once to go to a Korean school in Osaka. One of the classrooms that I passed had both Japanese and Korean writings on the walls, which I thought is teaching the second and further generations of Zainichi to not forget about their homeland culture and language, and also nurturing their identities as not Japanese but Koreans. In addition, the government of South Korea started to enable Zainichi and other Koreans who live outside South Korea to vote in elections from April 2012 (Choson Ilbo, 2009). I think this is another way for Zainichi and other Koreans outside of Korea to have a sense of belonging towards their home country, and also to build an identity as Koreans by participating in the elections of their country. The examples that I wrote above are only a few of the supports that are done by the government and also the hometown organizations to give Zainichi Koreans to maintain their identity.

The problem that I thought is occurring towards not only Zainichi Koreans but also other ethnic minorities is related to ethnic plurality in Japanese society. As I wrote above, Zainichi Koreans have been staying in Japan for a long time, getting into the Japanese society so well that most people could not even tell the differences between Japanese and Zainichi Koreans. However, I think there is still discrimination against ethnic minorities such as Zainichi Koreans in Japan, which I thought that Japanese should overcome due to having lived with other ethnicities for such a long period. It might be hard for the society to change soon, but at least we have to try more to change our minds to accept people who are trying to live in a difficult society: Japan.


Choson Ilbo. (2009). Zaigaigaikokujinnimo senkyoken 2012 sousenkyokara (Koreans in overseas’ general election voting rights starting from 2012). Retrieved from

Lee, Soo im. (2012). Diversity of zainichi Koreans and their ties to Japan and Korea. Shiga: Japan.

Levitt, Peggy. (2001). Transnational migration: Taking stock and future directions. Global networks, 1(3), 195-216.

Shipper, Apichai W. (2010). Nationalisms of and against Zainichi Koreans in Japan. Asian politics & policy, 2(1). Retrieved from

Language education against emigrants in Japan

by Minori Takada

Today, in the world (especially in multicultural countries), the education of the language for the emigrant becomes the problem. Therefore, I report the actual situation of the Japanese education for emigrants in Japan, and in the end I would like to make a suggestion “what we need” for its improvement.

As you know, Japan shows severe posture for immigration intake, and the ratio of foreigner residing in Japan is remarkably lower than other countries. According to OECD, the ratio of the foreigner among the total population in Japan was 1.7% in 2009.

Many of them came to Japan as “emigrants” to get job. And some of them get married after having a job in Japan and get a child, so the linguistic education for the child of the emigrant often becomes the problem in Japan.

To say it plainly, the Japanese education for the children of emigrants is not enough. We can understand this situation from looking at this chart. (Economic and Social Research Institute Cabinet Office Tokyo, Japan. 2012)

Citizenship School attendance (%) Students who go on to high school (%)
Korea 99.8% 93.0%
China 99.4% 85.7%
Philippine 98.1% 59.7%
Brazil 98.1% 42.2%
U.S. 94.3% 87.7%
U.K. 99.5% 98.1%

This is the percentage of students who go on to a higher stage of education.

There are six nationalities’ data, Korea, China, Philippine, Brazil, U.S. and U.K. Here is the average percentage of schools that are compulsory education, and all of them show high numbers. However, percentages of students who go on to a high school greatly falls. This is why that they cannot keep up with classes, because some of children cannot understand Japanese well.

Why does such a result appear? I checked what kind of linguistic education for emigrants is done in Japan.

According to the Agency for Cultural Affairs research, the number of the facilities that teach Japanese to immigrants was 1,832 in 2011. And in addition, more than 70% are accounted by public facilities. And there are four main supports that are done by the Japanese government.

  • Financial support for the administration of the Japanese classroom.
  • Working-out of the research expense about the Japanese education.
  • Maintenance of the teaching materials about the Japanese education.
  • Holding of the Japanese education meeting for the study.

From this, we can understand that “support” by the Japanese government is only basically financial or superficial things.

Then, what kinds of policies do countries (where a lot of emigrants succeed in their linguistic education) perform?

I nominated Germany for an example, because it is said that Germany resembles Japan.

The biggest difference is that there is an enforcement of the native language education at government level. This is called as “intensive teaching methods”, and children can use only German all the time when they are at school. And in addition, German government holds special measures against children who do not have enough skills to speak and write.

“The education for the emigrant” is established in a school law clearly in Germany, and it may be said that such an education is accomplished well.

In conclusion, based on these things, I point out a refinement of the linguistic education for the emigrant in Japan.

I think the government should be concerned with support more directly. The government should perform not only the support that indirect and financial, but also a more concrete support.

And to plan an opportunity to learn Japanese for as a public thing, as the agency for cultural affairs says, it is necessary to calculate numbers from the results of conventional various educational fronts and accumulation of future data, and research about the language use situation of the foreigner and the Japanese ability.


移民統合における言語教育の役割 ―ドイツの事例を中心に― (金箱秀俊 pp.50-76. 2010. 国立国会図書館調査)

日本における外国人の定住化についての 社会階層論による分析 ‐職業達成と世代間移動に焦点をあてて‐ (是川夕 2012. ESRI Discussion Paper Series No.283)

文化庁 海外における移民に対する言語教育

文化庁 世界、日本、地域から見る日本語教育

The Atlas for Emigration:

Evolution of gender and migration scholarship and its challenge

by Ayano Tsukada

Gender, the socially constructed role of and relationship between women and men, is deeply related to our lives. Our thoughts and our behavior are very affected by gender. Migration is not an exception here. In the article published in 2000, the sociologist Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo argues: “We now have a clear understanding that migration is gendered and that gender relations change with migration processes” (116). Women and men take different jobs in destination countries, use their money differently, and so on. Migration is also gendered and gendering. It is very important for researchers to know how and to what extent the lives of migrants are affected by gender. Without taking gender into account, we can easily misdescribe the whole picture of migration.

Sociological scholarship on gender and migration has a relatively short history.

In the late 1970s, women were depicted in the migration process and became a subject of many studies, however, scholars at the time only focused on women and men or only on the experience of women. They presented women migrants as a special case.

By the late 1980s, the evidence had grown large enough to require redrawing the map of gender and migration scholarship and then, theoretical formulation emerged. Scholars started to look at household economy as a critical site for revealing the relationship between migration and women, but still they were considering men as household heads and by doing so, they limited the data on women. At this point, the scholars studied men and women separately.

By the mid-1990s, the effective use of qualitative methods to understand the dynamics of gender and migration emerged and the new scholarship showed how migration processes are related to the social construction of gender.

From above, we can see the shift of sociological scholarship on gender and migration from the emphasis on documenting and explaining the gendered character of migration towards exploring its gendering effects.

In spite of this progress, many studies often degrade gender analyses to the level of the family or household and let scholars to ignore gender in other domains of the migration process.

There are still some parts that are missing in gender and migration studies. For instance, there are very few data on the consequences of women’s migration while there are many studies on the effect of men’s migration on their families, their communities, and on how gender is exercised in their home countries. What happens to the men and children who left behind when their wives or mothers migrate? Does women’s migration change the gender relationship of their countries? If so, how? Is it positive or negative?

Right now, the sociological scholarship on migration is more like gender-segregated rather than gender-integrated. It is necessary to look at gender as a central element to explore unexplained phases of migration. I hope that migration Studies in the 21st century will integrate gender more than it has done in the past 30 years.


Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. (2001). Doméstica: Immigrant workers cleaning and caring in the shadows of affluence. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press.

Afsar, Risa. (2011). Contextualizing Gender and Migration in South Asia: Critical Insights. Retrieved from on 25th May, 2013

Chinese immigrants in New Zealand: A case of educational optimism?

by Yuriko Otsuka

New Zealand is not only known for sheep and agriculture, but it is also known as a country which has a lot of immigrants. The population of New Zealand was about 4,252,277 people in 2010, and in that, the Chinese immigrants were about 85,477 people, which placed them as second among the immigrant nationalities in New Zealand (Peoplemovin, 2010). I stayed in New Zealand for a year since I had an opportunity to study abroad, and when I interacted with my Chinese friends, they told me about their life in China. Their parents had high expectation of their child’s grades, and told me that one of the reasons they came to New Zealand as an exchange student is to avoid the pressures from their parents; especially their mother. Chinese mothers, parents are way strict compared to ordinary Japanese moms and dads.

Tiffany (2007) indicated the reason why Chinese parents encourage their children’s education even though they are out of their home country by saying, high achievement and university degree will eventually lead their child to have a good job, and having a good job “represent the access to financial, professional and life success”. From that we could see that Chinese parents are really strict to their children’s education because they think it is good for their child in the long run. In “Chinese immigrants children’s first year of schooling: an investigation of Chinese immigrant parents’ perspective”, Li (as cited in Tiffany, 2007) said that “Although these [Chinese] families have resided in the new country for several years, they still connect themselves to their motherland and indigenous Chinese cultural values”. These ideas and actions make people call the Chinese mothers “tiger moms”, being strict in order for their children to have high academic achievement.

Considering about tiger moms, people may think becoming like them will enhance their child’s academic achievement, due to the results of Chinese immigrants ranking at the top in the classes in New Zealand. However, we should know that being strict and encouraging children do not mean that the child will achieve high academic scores. Colleen (as cited in Heather and Lois, n.d.) find that 87% of the Chinese students had high expectation towards getting good grades from their parents in New Zealand. However, only 37% said they are achieving their parents’ expectation. From this it is not 100 percent sure whether having a tiger mom is a guarantee of their children to achieve high academic expectation.

Not only having a guarantee of a child having a high academic achievement, but there are some problems of tiger moms in New Zealand. For instance, there is a possibility of a clash between the child and the parent. Similar to the Japanese society, I think the Chinese always makes their child to do work instead of letting them have a break time. I think being in to the slow life in New Zealand may make the Chinese immigrants think whether it is necessary to work this hard? Since I experienced the slow life in New Zealand, I felt like that. Acculturating to the host country will let people know another type of the society where the environment might be the opposite of the motherland. I think it is a good thing to have good grades, and parents to interfere their child’s education. However, interfering too much does not mean that the child will achieve high academic expectations. Furthermore, does not mean that children will become happy by having a tiger mom and achieved high academic expectations.


Kao, Grace, & Marta Tienda. (1995). Optimism and achievement: The educational performance of the immigrant youth. Social Science Quarterly, 76, 4.

Kavan, Heather & Lois Wilkinson. (n.d.). Dialogues with dragons: Assisting Chinese students’ academic achievement. Retrieved from

Peoplemovin. (2010). Migration flows across the world. Retrieved from