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New memoir on racism by New Yorker living in Japan reaches #1 on Amazon

24 Comments

Here's a book unlike any other written on the subject of racism by a self-identified racist. The author, Baye McNeil, is an African American living in Japan for the past decade. His sensational new memoir titled "Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist," has caught the attention of readers worldwide, and on the strength of dazzling reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, extensive social networking, word of “mouse” and, surprisingly without any major press coverage in Japan to date, has catapulted to the top slot in travel books on both Japan and Asia on Amazon.

This book, published auspiciously on Martin Luther King's birthday, is being dubbed by readers, "one of the most honest, passionate, engaging and best written books about life in modern Japan for non-Japanese of any race," and has garnered rave reviews from readers on 5 continents. It's also #11 in Black History books and #37 in books on sociology and race relations in the U.S.

McNeil was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York where some of his earliest encounters with racism were as a child of the Pan-African/Black Power Movement. As a elementary student at a Progressive Pro-Black Family School in the 1970s, between Swahili studies and Black History courses, his school's hands-on approach to "social studies" often placed him and his classmates, placards in hand, on the frontlines of protest marches, boycotts and demonstrations against everything from police brutality and shootings of unarmed black children in New York to apartheid in South Africa and corporate-sponsored civil war in Angola.

In the early '80s, while disco was on its deathbed and hip-hop was a Rug-Rat in diapers, the author was a teen member of a notorious urban cult which touted black superiority in a volatile community fraught with racial tension, and whose membership rolls held such illustrious names as Rakim, Queen Latifah, Method Man, and Big Daddy Kane.

The author then takes readers on a scintillating and informative journey through the heart and soul of America as a U.S. Army soldier, which he characterized as "a propaganda pressure cooker" yet "a brilliant way to address racial ignorance," and then back to New York for a bout with corporate bigotry as a university student in Brooklyn. It was at university that he experiences something so surprising and soul-rocking that it will racially alter the course of his life forever. At least, he thought so...then came Japan.

Prompted by his mind-altering experiences in the land of the rising sun, McNeil uses anecdotes and insights from both his youth and his years in Japan to illustrate the insidious nature of racism, and the dangers of responding to it with apathy. In what the author describes as “a universal call to arms,” he urges readers to reconsider how they view racism. He warns that “if racism continues to be demonized as a dark aberration that only "evil" people, ignorant fools, or people lacking common decency are subject to, then it will remain at large, hiding in plain sight, in our schools, offices, carpools, living rooms and sometimes even in the mirror."

"Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist" is currently available in both Trade Paperback and E-book versions on Amazon.com, fr, de, uk, es, it, ca, as well as Amazon.jp, barnesandnoble.com, The Book Depository, and at many other online outlets where books are sold.

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24 Comments
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Sounds interesting. Itching to read about the:

insights from both his youth and his years in Japan to illustrate the insidious nature of racism

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ugh. His formative years in Bed-Stuy and later might have been interesting, but he has has nothing new to say about Japan. By all means, visit his blog and you will be underwhelmed.

Most of the positive reviews are, guaranteed, log-rolling.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Sounds interesting, living outside of Japan I never noticed or really understood the problem with racism until I came to Japan. Racism can be so small that the person being racist doesn't even understand they are doing it, or in some cases thing that is normal.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I think racism is something that's more of a natural response we develop differently depending on life experiences and the environment we were raised in.

Those of us who've been raised in multicultural societies where since childhood we've been interacting with and making friends with children of different ethnic backgrounds will obviously view racism as evil, stupid, and self-defeating.

However, please realize how most people in asian, african, or middle-eastern countries are raised. Not only have they been raised to view those of a different physical appearance as "alien" or "of a different tribe", but their racial background becomes a very important source of self-identity, especially in a society as collective-minded as Japan. This doesn't make it right, but it does make it understandable.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I love how Wanda-kun hasn't read the book, but has decided that the positive reviews are not earned. I've read the book, and the whole is better than the sum of its parts. There is a difference between a blog and a book, not the least of which is that one is specifically created to be a cohesive whole and you have to pay for it and the other is random thoughts and experiences that are free. I guess it's easier to dismiss the value of the book based on the blog so you don't have to actually pay for something. However, the value of your "review", Wanda-kun, is duly noted.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It's what happens when a bunch of conservatives make up a whole country.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

big deal.............................................................................................................................

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Being racial is important. Not sure why the "ist" suffix makes it all bad. Apathy to our hosts and others that harbour ignorance truly are the disease that we need to confront. How we go about that is also key. Live and learn, but by no means alienate people just for not knowing something. Teach and be tactful. Not like a clown either ... ahem English teachers.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Let every nation know that racism is not tolerated in the United States. That is why the whole world wants to live there.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Don't get fooled by the title... Baye McNeil puts all the blame on the japanese people.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don't think there is too much racism towards blcak people here in Japan. But there IS a lot of ignorance. They simply believe what they see on the silly tv over here, and they then behave accordingly (ie. with irrational fear).

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@tokyonice Is there a difference between racism and behaving irrationally fearful in someone's presence based on their skin color and the ignorant notions you have in your head that you associate with that skin color?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Let every nation know that racism is not tolerated in the United States. That is why the whole world wants to live there.

I doubt it...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

JohhnyGlitterball Let every nation know that racism is not tolerated in the United States. That is why the whole world wants to live there.

I hope you're making a joke. Racism may not be "tolerated" in some places in the US, but it is a HUGE problem here.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

@catts

Yes, it was a joke. I thought people would realise that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ThatBlackGuy: "Is there a difference between racism and behaving irrationally fearful in someone's presence based on their skin color and the ignorant notions you have in your head that you associate with that skin color?"

Yes, it is. A really big one. It's a shame you can't see the difference.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Baye, you don't have to go to Japan to see that kind of behavior. You can see it everywhere. In Japan, in Europe, in South America, and even in the US. Many people see a black guy or a mexican, varies from region to region, and tries to get away as far as of them possible. But racism has anything to do with it. The reason is far simpler. There is a strong association of certain social group and criminal acts. That notion doesn't have to be true. Self preservation is instinctive. Even I, in a dark alley, would be afraid of you. And believe me, I'm not racist. Far from it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Call it social prejudice, or plain stupidity.... but certainly is it NOT racism.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

everyone has prejudices, fact of life. now you just can't express them because its "politically incorrect". doesn't mean that they go away.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@irodriguezsosa Ummm...at the risk of overstating the obvious, and though you've indicated you've read the book (half of which deals with racism in THE US, as in NOT in Japan), it's clear you either didn't read it, didn't get it, or didn't want to get it. And I agree that everything encountered here and elsewhere that smells like racism isn't necessarily racism, but that doesn't necessarily make it excusable, unintentional or inoffensive...does it? I mean, are you suggesting that widespread race-based "social prejudice" and "stupidity" (not only in Japan but elsewhere in the world) must be tolerated and accepted? That this is basic human behavior, and will never change? That it's grafted into our DNA by fear and ancient tribalism...and syougannai? I guess we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this point. I mean, I've seen people progress beyond that, and I, myself, have done so. So I know for a fact it's possible. Even if it hadn't been done before I would never surrender to that notion, cause we, like all creatures and lifeforms on this planet, can adapt and can change, and have done so many times when it was in the best interest of the species. All we need is the proper incentive and motivation to do so. I have it. Do you?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't know about you, but I rather prefer the japanese prejudice than the american racism. How many african american were killed in Japan because of prejudice?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The book is probably at least a little interesting, and likely worth a read. Racists come in all varieties(take a look in the mirror, as Michael Jackson said ). As humans tend to surround themselves with others who have similarities, whether color or religion or interests, we also distance ourselves from others with which we share little or no commonality. Some of that distancing is due to inexperience or ignorance(as opposed to stupidity), but some is due to experience which can be positive or negative, real or perceived. No one is or can be purely objective. However, we can all put into practice The Golden Rule and treat others with respect regardless of race, color, or creed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've actually read this, read it back in spring. I enjoyed it - I thought it covered some very important topics. He writes about growing up with Black power in the US, about being a foreigner, a man, and a person of colour from the West in Japan (which are all different experiences), about relationships (he writes about his main relationship very movingly) , and about reactions to last year's earthquake. The ebook could do with some editing (for both vocab/typos, and for a bit of judicious trimming of rants)but that is one of the dangers of self-publishing. It's worth a read, folks- go red it if you get the chance!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've never been to Japan, but I'm pretty sure that there is a lot more racism in USA and Mexico than in Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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