Nihonjinron and the Latin Americanization of Race

by Kana Masaki

The chapter says that American race relation is becoming Latin America–like. It has two main characteristics. The first one is color–blind racism, which denies the salience of race. In other words, it’s a racism that acts as if race doesn’t matter at all even when it does matter. The second one is triracial stratification system. It consists of whites at the top, honorary whites in the middle, and the collective blacks at the bottom. According to the authors, the existence of honorary whites can lessen conflicts between whites and blacks. The author also says that these three groups are stratified based on color. Racial approaches in Latin America are racial mixing, triracial stratification system, colorism and so on. The reason why Latin Americanization is happening now is because of the increase of racial minorities, color–blind racism and so on. The date proves Latin Americanization is happening such as gaps in terms of income. As a conclusion, the author predicts the change of racial politics in the future.

We think Nihonjinron and Japanese racial supremacy during Japanese emperor period have something to do with Latin Americanization. Basically, Latin Americanization is making white supremacy even bigger. Nihonjinron and Japanese racial supremacy thoughts also made Japanese people superior. During the Japanese colonization against Korea, the government made some documents written about Japanese supremacy such as hakkou-ichiu. It says Japan should be the one who controls East Asia because they are superior. Also, the government needed to create their own identity, Japaneseness to catch up with Western countries. Nihonjinron shows off claims of Japanese uniqueness and homogeneity of shared culture, blood, language.

Personally, I thought this reading was interesting. It made me realize that racial inequalities still exist. Always, racial inequality is difficult to feel for me, because I live in Japan and never been to America and other racially mixed countries. My personal question is whether whites realize they are still discriminating against honorary whites and blacks. Do they know that they are just getting involved with color–blind racism trend? Do they really think that inequalities against blacks are because of the lack of efforts or something? I think white supremacy never disappears unless they realize they are just going with color–blind racism trend. It’s maybe a psychological thing, but once people get a supremacy, they tend not to throw it away, because they’ve already known how nice to be superior to others. In this sense, supremacy is really scary, I think.

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