Cartoon Drawings and the Default Human Being; or, Why do Japanese people draw themselves as white?

Had this question ever occurred to you? I don’t read much manga myself (barely any, though I do like the art style), but it does, at first glance, seem that everyone in them is white.

As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why?  Because to them white is the Default Human Being.

Another way to look at this is to say that we’re not aware of our own stereotypes (or, at least, so long as we’re in the majority culture, we have no need to be aware of our own stereotypes).

Besides, that is not how the Japanese draw white or even Chinese people. The otherness of foreigners is clearly marked by physical stereotypes – just as Americans do with people of colour. In anime White Americans are stereotyped as having yellow hair, blue eyes and a long or big nose.


And, of course, some of the main art styles of manga were taken from American comics in the first place.


The Liberation of Paris: Whites only

In August 1944, at the time of the Liberation of Paris, the French army was two thirds black. Two thirds! De Gaulle had raised an army in Africa. And yet, all the soldiers involved in the Liberation of Paris were white, on the basis that it would be “better for French morale”. That probably wasn’t the real reason (after all, De Gaulle himself, who should know something about how to manage French morale, opposed the idea).

Propaganda: it seems the (white) American commanders were afraid of how the sight of black soldiers freeing Paris would look on newsreels back home where everyone had been brought up on whitewashed history. So to maintain that image they forced the French to whitewash their army, forcing fiction on fact.

Interesting reading.


SBC, Ethics, and Racism

Richard Land, spokesman on ethics for the Southern Baptist Convention has said some disgustingly bigoted things on his radio show. Oddly, he hasn’t been fired.

But then, as Lliira says,

Why would they fire him? The reason he’s in the position he’s in is because he holds the beliefs he holds. If he weren’t a racist, misogynist, homophobic, frightened little man, he would not be fit to be the head of the SBC.

It looks like the SBC is considerably more awful than I thought, and that’s saying something.