That is the question. Now, before I go any further, I just want to say that since this post discusses race, some feelings may be hurt and some people may be offended. That is not my intent. But rather, I will simply examine if I should expend energy on this incident that occurred a few days ago.
Read about Boom’s Stevie Wonder impersonation here.
To be pissed?
You can bet your bottom dollar! Knee-jerk reaction is to go off! How incredibly insensitive! Boom can be such a tool sometimes. He looks like a straight up idiot with some of the things he’s had to do in shows he’s hosted. And although it seems that Super Junior should know better: how much creative control do they really have? Are they puppets too, that just comply with whatever the show directors and writers demand? Maybe someone who knows them better can answer this.
Frankly, I’m quite exhausted from getting angry at people who make stupid, ignorant comments or actions. I’m just tired. But when I saw Boom’s impersonation, I just got upset. What makes it worse is that this certainly is not the first time that Korean stars have been caught up in performing blackface to impersonate real Black people or Black people in general (I will not include any examples as it only feeds my frustration). Do they have any idea of the history of blackface?
This makes me think back to when I visited Tokyo for the first time, and while looking around in a gift shop, I noticed a blackface mask hanging right along with other masks. My immediate impulse was to go to the store owner and say, “excuse me, sir. I find that mask extremely offensive. Take it down!” Although I didn’t do that, I still couldn’t believe my eyes. I also couldn’t believe that this ignorance was so far-reaching. It was a real eye-opener. I wondered if that’s what Japanese people saw when they looked at me.
Not to be pissed?
Let me ask you all this question: would there have been a right way for Boom to have done the Stevie impersonation? Or should he not have touched it at all? Once again, I think Boom is used as a tool sometimes and does what he’s asked (afterall, he just got out of the army and I’m sure he’s fiendin’ for a job).
Back to the mask incident. I thought better of screaming at the shop owner to take the mask down. I was in Japan. Japan One of the most homogenous countries in the world! Sensitivity to diversity is probably not at the top of Japan’s foreign policy. Isn’t it the same case with South Korea? What they need is sensitivity to diversity training 🙂 Any thoughts on how we can give it to them?
I really have to remind myself. Before I became so familiar with Japanese people and culture, I didn’t know them from Koreans, or Chinese, and didn’t care. I couldn’t imagine dating an Asian guy because they seemed so different, so….alien. My thoughts back in the day (literally): “They’re too short”, “They eat cats”, “It’s so annoying that they can’t distinguish rs from ls”, etc. SERIOUSLY. I was straight-up ignorant. I didn’t hate them. I just knew nothing about them. So when K-pop stars make seemingly malicious comments about my people, or do they things that are offensive, the only thing that goes through my mind is that they are terribly underexposed and are in serious need of exposure to diversity. Not just black people, but to everyone! Once you travel the world and meet the many diverse peoples in it, it’s really hard to continually be ignorant, methinks. There are probably no black people in their surroundings, and so have no other frame of reference than what they’ve seen on tv or in music videos (dear Lord). So, to Boom, SUJU, Taeyeon, Seungri, and whoever else (K-pop star or not) is a bit confused about black people: do your research. Find out about the people who you so sorely want to imitate but don’t want to be. Know that you have fans who are black, and those people love you and defend you despite the insensitive things that you say and do. Educate yourself. We’re not mad atcha. But we are disappointed. You guys are the popular culture leaders of your generation. You have alot more power than you may think you have. Use it.
So..I guess I’ve chosen to not be pissed about this one. Moving on…