Story Of A "Halfu" Priyanka Yoshikawa who was crowned Miss Japan 2016
The concept of racism is not alien to this world, not one country can claim to be free from it. Things get even more difficult when a citizen of a different race comes forward to represent a country on a world platform, it is then one can witness racial backlash at its worse.
Miss Japan 2016, Priyanka Yoshikawa is one of the examples of how unaccommodating people can be towards their own citizens. This talented girl who speaks fluent Japanese, English and Bengali, towered over her rivals at 1.76 metres (5 ft., 8 ins), was crowned Miss Japan on September 6, 2016.
What followed was a complete nightmare, social media went ablaze over why a "halfu"-- Japanese for “half”, a word used to describe mixed race-- should not have won the coveted title. Though it didn't come as surprise to Priyanka, who is born to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, as she had faced racism all throughout her life.
One of the Twitter user complained, “What’s the point of holding a pageant like this now? Zero national characteristics,” other tweet said, “It’s like we’re saying a pure Japanese face can’t be a winner.”
Priyanka, who was born in Japan, lived a couple of years in Sacremento, USA followed by a year in Kolkata, India. While recounting her school days where other kids refused to even touch her because of her “Halfu" status, she said
We have problems, we’ve been struggling and it hurts. When I came back to Japan, everyone thought I was a germ, like if they touched me they would be touching something bad. But I’m thankful because that made me really strong.
Priyanka's father belongs to a very affluent family in Kolkata, her great grandfather, was the CM of West Bengal and even welcomed Mahatma Gandhi for a two week stay in Kolkata. Her father had come to Japan to study where he met a Japanese Bengali teacher, Naoko. Having Bengali as a common thread their friendship grew resulting in marriage.
We are Japanese. Yes, I’m half Indian and people are asking me about my ‘purity’ -- yes, my dad is Indian and I’m proud of it, I’m proud that I have Indian in me. But that does not mean I’m not Japanese. - Priyanka Yoshikawa to Hindustan Times.
This kick boxer, trained elephant trainer and a professional therapist, having faced the ugly face of racism and bullying, is still hopeful for a racism-free world.
As Miss Japan, hopefully I can help change perceptions so that it can be the same here too. The number of people with mixed race is only going to increase, so people have to accept it.
Well she is not the only one to face racism. In 2014, a girl of Indian descent, Nina Davuluri, was crowned Miss America 2014. She was the first Indian-American and second Asian-American to win the crown. She was attacked viciously by the ignorant calling her a "terrorists" because of her skin color and a series of seven-eleven stereotyped jokes. But she handled all with grace.
A lot of the remarks weren’t meant to be malicious, but just due to the fact of ignorance.
Picture Source: AnotherIndian; cnn.com; Times of India; Starsunfolded
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