A Good English Language Arts Advocacy Letter…

Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy US Ambassador to Japan regarding Fuji-TV:

Dear Ms Kennedy:

My name is Baye McNeil, American expat, 11-year resident of Yokohama, Japan. I’m an author of two books on life here for African Americans and a columnist for the Japan Times covering the black experience in Japan. I’m a huge admirer of your family’s work over the years, particularly of Robert Kennedy’s work in my hometown of Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, where he was directly responsible for its “Restoration” back in the 60s.

There’s a serious matter I’m not sure you’re aware of so I thought I’d bring it to your attention just in case. @fujitv this Saturday (Mar. 7) is planning to air nationally a modern day minstrel show, featuring two groups, Rats & Star and Momoiro Clover Z, both in Blackface.

Yep, a minstrel show, blackface, gloves and all!

Needless to say this is very distressing not only for the African-Americans living here, like myself, but a mockery of black people everywhere. I’m of the mind that it should not air. And I’m not alone.

A petition was started a week ago which has garnered nearly 5000 signatures in that time, the majority of which are Japanese people themselves. And that’s with the limited ability I have via social media to reach the broader public. If I had the Japanese press’ ear, I’m sure those numbers would be exponentially larger.

I’m not delusional. I realize Fuji-TV is a monster company and the 5000 voices I’ve collected are barely enough to be heard by these guys, and so in a last ditch effort to stop this from airing — which I believe is a mistake that will tarnish Japan’s image further and will not be easily forgiven or ignored by the world– I want to ask you to do whatever is within your power to do to help Fuji-TV see the error of their presumably good intentions.

I know time is short, but in the long run, as US Ambassador to this lovely country, I’d like to think that helping maintain and improve relations between our two countries, particularly when it comes to dilemmas like these, would be something you have in your wheelhouse…or at least have staff people who can get on it and quickly. I certainly hope so…

I thank you in advance for your attention in this matter.

Even if there’s nothing that can be done (which I understand is a possibility) I hope at least you can make sure that Fuji-TV has full knowledge that no less than 5000 people are not going to be thrilled about their minstrel show! And if they were lucky that would be it. But they won’t be lucky. The backlash will be all over the international media! Last week it’s the “Apartheid is good” thing from Sono-san, this week it’s minstrelsy on national TV. Next week? God knows what… Japan will be looked at as nurturing the image of a backwards thinking country. And, not to sound alarmist, but “Restoration” of its good name will be a feat after this. I love this country but this is even pushing my tolerance levels to their extreme.

So, let’s do our best to stop that momentum in its tracks, by stopping the airing of this minstrel show.

For more information on the change.org petition I started, here’s a link: goo.gl/eiDQMA

I can be reached at: locohama7@gmail.com if you need to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Baye McNeil

PS: Thank you, and please give me best to Michelle Obama when she visits next week!