Although the history of black people is complicated and there are many negative images of them in the world, in Japan, people usually think that as the past thing. In the past, they were controlled by the Western countries as slaves. People in the U.S., mainly, strongly care about those history of discrimination, and some people who is called racist do not think good about them.
Black people are famous in many fields these days. I think one of the broadest place for them is music. The music which created with black people such as Jazz, Blues, and Hip-hop is called Black Music, and it is spread all over the world to listen and play. The Blues music is known as the roots of Jazz and Rock ‘n Roll. In late of 19 century, this music was created from spiritual music. Those facts are enough for those music to be known as black music.
For my situation, sometimes I was studying the history of black people at school, and have seen what was going on in the past. Actually, most of those were negative images. On the other hand, those images we see on entertainment contents are positive images of black people. Especially, I love listening to or play the music with instruments. Many Japanese try to play instruments like black people do, because they are so good at it usually. This is positive image of black people, and that could be said in sports. All of people who is in those fields are kind of trying to be like black people. I am one of those, to be a really good player. So, the important thing is black people are seen with cool images in Japan, and it means that we are respecting black people.
As we learned in the class lecture, some of images of black people are sometimes likely to images that racists think of. The movie we saw in the class that is “ufu and mufu” would be counted into it. We do not have strong images that black people are living in a forest and playing with animals all day long, but it is actually in the product.
I think that Japanese people are seeing black people with a mixed image. One is to see black people with images that we see on TV or the internet, which is positive images. Another one is to see them with the knowledge that we learned at school as history and which is not that negative, and it is for the basis. Just for the foundation, Japanese people know how black people lived in the past days. However, of course, we do know how they are living these days, too. I think that those became the materials to mix and create the new image of black people.
As the conclusion, I do not think Japanese people are not racists. People do not look them down, and even they respect black people as a longing. Japanese people think that the history is the history, and for now, they have their identity.
Source: History of Black Music ( http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~zip2000/bs-history.htm)
by Junsuke Fujino