"But how? said my cousin."
January 7, 2018 9:47 AM   Subscribe

"The Space Between Us and the Ground Below Us, or: Why I Traveled to Japan", by Bryan Washington in Catapult. Washington is a gay black man who grew up in Texas and spent summers with family in Florida, studied Japanese in school, wrote to a pen pal in Japan, and planned to visit him. That plan never happened, but in 2017, Washington went anyway. This article describes the trip, his adolescent ambitions, and dealing with homophobia and racism.
posted by brainwane (7 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
“And they always meant well. And they were always white. And what they meant, invariably, was: How could you imagine yourself somewhere we couldn’t imagine you? But here is a thought: Imagine you’re queer. Or you’re brown. You’re a religious minority. You are all of these things at once. You live in a place where no one else is any of these things. Then you live in a place where you know one or two more, but none of these people want anything to do with you. Then you live in a place where you’ve met many like you, and all different, too. Now you’re told you matter. Now you’re told you don’t. Imagine that what they don’t tell you, what you have to find out, is that you’re the person you are, whether you’re here or there—but that person’s worth is invalidated by history. Legally, culturally, financially, they’re treated like monsters.”
Oh wow, this really hit hard. This part right here. It resonates with me. I'm not gay, but I am brown and I have experienced a similar kind of othering. Thank you for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 10:31 AM on January 7 [9 favorites]

That's an excellent piece; thanks for posting it.
posted by languagehat at 12:12 PM on January 7

This is a great piece of writing, and I'm bookmarking it so I can order his book when it comes out.
posted by jferg at 12:20 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

Just echoing that this was fantastic.

There are three more pieces by him at the same link. Just read this one and it was great, too:

The Future in Motion: Why I Judge High School Debate Tournaments
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:25 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]

Oh god.

So I tried to relax. I thought of the upcoming festival. I thought of how you can spend your whole life wanting something, just to freeze up when you finally get it.

I'm bloody crying at work.
posted by allium cepa at 2:43 PM on January 7

This was beautiful.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:50 PM on January 7

I'm so glad people found this resonated with them. I wish I could send a copy of this to every white person whose favorite movie is Lost in Translation. Although I'm not proud of that impulse.

I started reading other stuff by Washington and didn't have time to write up a longer front-page post with links to more of his work but I would love for someone else to, because he's written a lot of interesting memoir.
posted by brainwane at 5:32 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]

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