The Language Learning Lane – And Why I Refuse to Stay In It

Earlier this year, Solange Knowles clapped back at a hater who wanted to know why her son was studying French, as opposed to “his own” history and culture. When reading the original comment, I was overcome with an eerie sense of déjà vu. I am one of the few thousand Americans studying Japanese. I am also black. I realized, while looking at the response, that I have had this conversation telepathically between people nearly every time I’m asked “Why are you studying Japanese?”
The comment questioning Solange’s son’s education finally caused me to realize exactly why I felt so unsettled when people inquired about my second language choice. Too often, people asked the question not out of curiosity, but out of a desire to know why I had strayed from “my lane.” The question wasn’t “Why are you studying Japanese?” It was instead, “Why are you studying Japanese?” … More The Language Learning Lane – And Why I Refuse to Stay In It

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Summer Cafe Series TBT Edition – The Hammock Kafe, Kichijoji

So this is completely, horribly, terribly late. I went to this cafe over a month ago, the summer is almost over, and this post has been languishing in my drafts folder for more than a month. However this cafe is super fun, quirky, and so very Tokyo that I would hate for people not to … More Summer Cafe Series TBT Edition – The Hammock Kafe, Kichijoji

Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going Abroad

As you hopefully know if you have been following my blog since the beginning, I absolutely adored being abroad. I think that everyone, time and money permitting, should have the chance to study abroad before they graduate from college (and maybe even after, depending on how ambitious you are!) Living in a country that’s not … More Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going Abroad

What do the new ‘Ghostbusters’, Barack Obama, and my National Portrait Gallery tour have in common?

I always passively think about race – it’s something that comes naturally to me, since I grew up in black in Chicago. And I can critically think about race – it’s basically what I do for my historical research. But most of the time I have to turn that part of me off, otherwise I can’t enjoy anything. I started to consciously do this after the otherwise really interesting movie “Ex Machina” was thoroughly destroyed when I noticed that the android who couldn’t speak was Asian, and the android model that was just a body was black, while all the fully intelligent, Turing-test-passable models, were white. However “Americanah” seems to have broken my switch. … More What do the new ‘Ghostbusters’, Barack Obama, and my National Portrait Gallery tour have in common?

Business As Usual

If you know me, or want to know anything about me, it’s that I write out my feelings. I thought I had gotten over this particular quirk of mine, as I hadn’t done it for nearly four years. However I found out last spring, when I had an overly dramatic reaction to an impending breakup … More Business As Usual