There have been various things happening over the last few days for me. I am still set up to take Intermediate Drawing this next semester. I’m basically dying to learn how to use color in my drawings, and to start to move into what I actually want to draw, which is imaginative material.
I’m not thinking that the future for me actually lies in Illustration, as things stand now, but I might be wrong about that. I’ve had training as to how to communicate in writing, so Illustration, although it’s probably where I started out (I can’t fully remember anymore, I was 14 or something), it may not be where I end up.
I’ve also begun to read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon in English, so I actually know what’s happening this time around (instead of trying to translate piecemeal). It’s different than the anime. Though! The anime is going to be coming out on Hulu — all 5 seasons, sub and dub — and is on CrunchyRoll.
As I was reading Sailor Moon, I realized that a major part of the attraction I had to the manga was the fact that because it was a shojo series, gender-bending was very much present. The gender-bendy stuff probably hearkens back to an older manga — I think the title was The Rose of Versailles.
But anyhow, I was glad to be able to link my initial acceptance of Sailor Moon as an anime to the fact that I was probably a gender-bendy (or gender-breaky) kid as well. That, in turn, led to the entry immediately preceding this one, on this blog.
I’m not sure I’m all-in with the Japanese stuff, at this point. It’s a great idea to learn how to read Japanese — but recently I’ve been getting reflections of what it was like to grow up as a kid who was half-Japanese-American, and not accepted by most of young Asian-American society. I didn’t look stereotypically “Asian” enough, is the thought (only people who are looking for it and actually know what Asian people can look like, can really see that I’m part Asian). I’ve also been remembering my Japanese-American grandmother, who…did not treat my mother well, and we presume that this was because of racism.
I suppose there’s something to be said about a difference between pre- and post-WWII (that is, pre- and post-Internment) Japanese-American consciousness. This, in addition to present-day nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) vs. nikkeijin (Japanese of foreign birth; in this I’m focusing on the U.S.) consciousness.
Anyhow…the prospect has been suggested to me recently to take a nihongo class. This is not without irritations for me, though.
I’ve noticed the tendency of people of other races and cultures to “want to be Japanese,” (some people will actually say so) and even when I was initially in Japanese classes, I found the presence of people who were in the program (for all the wrong reasons) to be a somewhat-strange thorn in my side. It’s the major reason I didn’t stick with Japanese when I moved on to my later University — even when racism works in your favor, it’s still racism. You’re still being seen as a fetish object, not as a person.
Though in my case, this racism, even though it has apparent surface-level benefits (like my being expected to be “the smart kid” growing up), doesn’t work in my favor, and wouldn’t, unless I were to abandon the other half of my heritage (as I did for most of the first 20 years of my life — I only grew up with my Japanese-American extended family, not the other side, so I found it “natural”). And that sets me up for unrest, because I really don’t look Japanese, I am not defined by being Japanese, and so having an exclusively Japanese-American identity, when nihonjin are known for not dealing well with people of other cultures…? When nihonjin are known for making fun of people whose racialization differs from their own?
My grandmother tried to get me to have pride in being Japanese-American. She didn’t try to get me to have pride in the other half of my heritage, which I’m only cloaking now because I can’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, and I’m not a mix that would normally be thought of.
But this is all politics. There is also a spiritual dimension to this…but it’s not cohesive with the above, and nor am I sure I should be sharing it in public. Suffice it to say that I am no longer at the point of thinking that my physical heritage gives an entire or accurate definition to the cultural community I feel most comfortable with…which only appears, actually, if we cast the Asian/Pacific Islander net wider and include people from other locations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, who now live in the U.S. When I do that, I feel vastly more comfortable.
As I told some co-workers a while ago: I have reached a point where I know that my own culture is not the best culture on the planet just because I’m related to it. I’m not certain if there’s a term for the place I’ve reached. I do appreciate Japanese culture; I don’t appreciate Japanese insensitivity to other (nonwhite and/or non-European) cultures. In my case, visiting Japan is even a scary thought now because of being nikkeijin, female, and probably qualifying as “exotic”, even though I’d likely not be respected very much because of my race, sex, and gender combination.
Right now, the risk is too high; and that puts a damper on wanting to learn nihongo because I don’t want to deal with more of this stuff than I already have to deal with.