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Half-Japanese, Half-Black: Miss Japan 2015 not ‘Japanese enough’

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By Sanya Panwar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Biracial beauty Ariana Miyamoto was crowned Miss Japan 2015 and will represent her country at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.

She’s Japanese. She’s African-American. She was born and raised in Japan, but also travelled to the US to attend high school. She speaks Japanese as her first language and has a Japanese mother (and a Black father).

Ariana Miyamoto is Japanese by legal definition, but the Miss Universe contestant is facing criticism from those at home who say she is not ‘Japanese enough’.

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(All Photos: Facebook/ Instagram)

In Japan, mixed-race people are known as “hafu”, and Miyamoto’s selection as Miss Universe Japan has prompted a storm of criticism in Japanese media, for whom a hafu just doesn’t cut it. Her selection even has social media users asking if it is “okay to choose a hafu to represent Japan?”

The leggy model became the first ever mixed-race or biracial beauty who will represent the island nation in the Miss Universe pageant and also the first half-Japanese, half-black woman to compete in Miss Universe.

Despite her impressive accomplishments, success has not come without challenges for Miyamoto in one of the least racially-diverse countries in the world.

At six-feet tall in heels, the 20-year-old is being forced to defend herself after being abused for ‘not being Japanese enough’ because her father is a black American from Arkansas, US. Miyamoto, who grew up in Nagasaki, Japan, also travelled to the US for her education.

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And some in Japan think all this makes her not traditionally Japanese, and hence unfit to represent the nation of her birth in an international beauty pageant.

So much so that the mixed-race beauty queen has been forced to insist that she is “Japanese on the inside.” Miyamoto used her first television appearance after her selection to apologetically explain to reporters that while she doesn’t ‘look Japanese’ on the outside, on the inside, there are ‘many Japanese things about her’.

She also told CNN in an interview that she had always stood out in Japan and that when she was young, she was bullied for being different. “In school, people used to throw rubbish at me,” she said. “They also used racial slurs.”

According to a translation by Washington Post, a Twitter user posted, “Even though she’s Miss Universe Japan, her face is foreign no matter how you look at it!”

Another said, “Miss Universe Japan is… What? What kind of person is she? She’s not Japanese, right?”

Even as the website Kotaku hailed Miyamoto’s selection as a sign that change was occurring in Japan — if “slowly”, it noted that “many of the highest-rated comments” about Miyamoto on the Japanese site GirlsChannel “said that they wanted a more Japanese contestant to represent Japan”.

However, not everyone thinks that way: Comments supporting her selection are all over social media, with people saying that the only thing that matters is whether or not she’s a Japanese citizen and loves the country or whether or not she was born and raised in Japan.

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Others said criticizing the selection because she wasn’t ‘Japanese’ enough was “pathetic” and “outdated thinking.”

Read more at Hindustan Times

Art

Actor Clarence Williams III, 81

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

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Actor Clarence Williams III

Actor Clarence Williams III was born on Aug. 21, 1939 in New York, New York and died on June 4, 2021 of colon cancer in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

He acted in the theatre, on television and in film.

On “The Mod Squad” Williams was one of the first Black actors to have a lead role on a television series. Following in the footsteps of Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll.

Cosby recommended Williams for his role as Linc.

He was married to actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984 when they divorced.  Foster died in 2001.

Williams is survived by his daughter, Jamey Phillips.

Wikipedia, The New York Times, and CNN were sources for this story.

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Art

Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Manager Wins $25,000 Berresford Prize

United States Artists, the funding organization, named Bedoya a winner this year because of his significant contributions to the care and advancement of artists.

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Roberto Bedoya, who won the 2021 Berresford Prize for contributing to the well-being, advancement, and care of artists. Bedoya, in this undated photo, is the city of Oakland’s cultural affairs manager. (Bryan Mitchell/Courtesy of Grantmakers in the Arts).

Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Manager Roberto Bedoya has won the Berresford Prize, given each year to people who contribute to the well-being of artists, a national arts funding group said.
United States Artists, the funding organization, named Bedoya a winner this year because of his significant contributions to the care and advancement of artists.
Bedoya was one of two recipients this year. The other was Portland-based Native-Hawaiian arts leader Lulani Arquette.
“They are ideal recipients of the Berresford Prize, as they represent a deep commitment to artists, placing them at the heart of their life’s work,” said United States Artists Program Director Lynnette Miranda, in a statement.
Bedoya said in an interview on June 11 that he has been involved in the arts ever since high school.
He grew up in a now-annexed Latino enclave of Union City called Decoto and earlier in his life created an oral history of the area.
Later he worked for Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco followed by arts work in Wash., D.C. and Tucson, Arizona. He moved back to the Bay Area to be closer to family, he said.
“It’s a really sweet and wonderful award,” Bedoya said.
It came as a surprise and is an affirmation of his career, he said.
The prize was created by several fellows of United States Artists because people who dedicate their careers to helping artists have received little recognition. The inaugural prize was given in 2019.
Berresford Prize winners receive $25,000, which Bedoya said he is not sure what he is going to do with it.
    One of Bedoya’s recent accomplishments, which United Starts Artists noticed, was his unveiling of Oakland’s first cultural plan in three decades.
    The Berresford Prize is named after Susan Berresford, past president of the Ford Foundation, and co-founder United States Artists.

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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