Because Black women face so many challenges in the business world in the U.S., can you image the difficulty they face overseas? It can be scary. With so many people stereotyping Black women, they are forced to deal with so much.
Now think about Black women living in Japan, a place that’s been said to be homogeneous. Do you think it’s easy for them to blend in? Well, two women, Avril Haye Matsui and Stephanie Fay Gayle, decided to do something and they created the Facebook group – Black Women In Japan (BWIJ) in September 2014.
Recently they held their first conference on March 25th in Tokyo. Initially, they had a membership of 400 and now their membership boasts around 1,500.
According to a story reported in Madamenoire, Matsui said, “I was feeling kinda frustrated. didn’t feel like Black women were being represented well. There were people writing books about ‘Western’ women in Japan but none of these women were women like me. It was like we didn’t really exist. One day, Stephanie and I went to this African Festa in Nagoya. All of the vendors there were African, but all of the entertainment was Japanese. There wasn’t even one Black face. We were just sitting there shaking our heads, thinking, ‘This isn’t right.’ It wasn’t that these Japanese performers were deliberately mocking African culture. I think they were trying to be very respectful about it, but they had forgotten to include African people in their efforts to represent Africa.”
The conference centered around issues of hair, dance, spirituality, fashion and a host of other issues relevant to Black women.