Really though, it’s the product of six years of education in both Fulton, Missouri’s Westminster College where I received a BA in History, Minor in Asian Studies and Saint Louis’ University of Missouri-St. Louis where I received my MA in History and Museum Studies.
The impetus for the creation for this academic blog came one day while I was sitting in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima, Japan, waiting for my next bus to take me to my Tuesday school visit. Recently, all of my best ideas come when I’m waiting at a bus stop in Japan: must be the white noise. In that moment though, it was calling my mother, a daily ritual that I eagerly indulge, always mindful of the 14 – 15 hour difference, depending on Daylight Savings.
Of course, in this moment of academic brilliance –epiphany, good idea-ing- I said the sentence that made me make this blog:
“I want to write again. Like, write academic papers.”
I’d been back to writing for fun for a few weeks now, back in the habit of working towards a tangible goal, but I’d kept away from academic. Post-graduate school, I felt burned out: I’d tucked a big part of my soul into writing my thesis, a hundreds page exhibition plan for my Museum Studies degree. I left that behind when I departed from Houston, Texas to Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture.
But then I listened to a podcast by Tofugu featuring Helen McCarthy, and in that moment, I knew I wanted to read her research and dive right back in to where I had pressed pause.
“I feel ready to write again,” I said. “I don’t hate my committee or feel bad or burnt out. I even ordered a couple of books for research, one on kimono now and another on Miyazaki Hayao. It’s older but old can be good and she’s a woman so that’s good too.” I’m sure my mother laughed.
She told me she was proud too.
So I guess… here we are: a Black Academic living in Japan, wanting to write about Cool Japan, Blackness in Japan, and the Black fans of Japan who exist globally.
I don’t know what I’m going to explore first now that I’m actively living in Japan. I hope that through daily life lessons, I can start to write for a public audience with the goal of Accessible Education first. I’m writing for the people, not for professors : rather, I want to write thigns that people want to read, that I want to read, not journals with five pages of endnotess –though I do love some good, organized endnotes despite having to always use footnotes; ugh– and a lot of out of reach jargon. I want to write so that anyone with a connection and time to read can sit down and engage with popular culture, history, and walk away wanting to read more.
I want all that alongside the undertone of constant black presence within global Cool Japan culture. I think it’s important, as the world opens up, to explore that. It’s already being explored, but I want to reformat it: I wanna make it cool to dig into this and cool for my black presence to be a part of this bigger, cultural sharing that’s occurring, especially in the context of America and Japan.
Certainly, we’re all in this together for one thing: learning. So let’s take a risk, do our research, and learn together.
(Hint: We’re probably starting with Naruto. Lots and lots of Naruto. Can you blame an academic for nursing an ache for nostalgia? Plus honestly, there’s like… eight black characters. And trust me, they’ve each got something we can definitely dig into.)
I’m still in the process of updating this blog. Admittedly, I’m used to Tumblr, not WordPress, but WP has a better, cleaner format for what I’m doing, so it’s a bit new to me. However, I hope that this summer vacation, which is t-minus 25 days, I can start actually digging into research, rhetoric, tropes, and writing and outline.
Sit tight and keep the faith, my academics in the making. I can promise that something great is stewing on my back burner: but we gotta make some strides to get there. I’ll catch you around though!
-Your Blackademic, Mercedez