Whitewashing. Ugh.

It is 2019 and I am blogging about whitewashing. UGH. So let’s get to it. Women’s tennis has a new superstar, and though she isn’t a household name yet I assume she will be shortly. Naomi Osaka has been tearing it up on the tennis circuit and giving all of the biracial fans out there a star that in whom they can see themselves. In September 2018 the Haitian-Japanese tennis star was portrayed in an animated advertisement for noodle company Nissin as having an obviously white complexion. Not ok, Nissin. Not ok. Japan is an extremely homogenous population and has been trying to overcome accusations of racism as a country for years, but this doesn’t excuse the practice of whitewashing. And the thing that really interests me about this whole situation…Why in the world didn’t we hear more about it? Sure, the topic has made its rounds in the marketing community…but ask average Joe or plain Jane about it, and you will most likely be met with an unknowing stare. It has been 5 months since Nissin whitewashed Naomi, yet there has barely been a rumbling about the issue. Are we as Americans not concerned with this practice because of her nationality? Are we somehow excusing this embarrassing depiction of her because we don’t consider it to be racist? I have a bunch of questions about this issue but keep coming up with the same answer. Yes. Americans are great at living with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, and the rather quiet coverage of this story is a perfect example of that. We need to start looking at race differently. We need to acknowledge that race issues aren’t just black or white. Pun intended. Naomi handled the situation with class and dignity, but I can’t help but think Nissin got away with something here.

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