Troubling Racism and Xenophobia in Sumo Reforms

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Steve

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Americans doing a Mouri war chant?

Which is a big deal still in new Zealand.


By the way how intimidating would that gym be?
Americans doing it is definitely cringy. But what about some white dudes on the all blacks in new Zealand doing it?
 

dvcochran

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Americans doing it is definitely cringy. But what about some white dudes on the all blacks in new Zealand doing it?
And this would matter why?

This is one of your posts where you talk out of both sides of your mouth.
I am Not starting an argument; but I really don't think you hear yourself sometimes. You can't talk about supposed racism in a flag and then question a white dude being with a bunch of black dudes.
Totally washes out your credibility.
 
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Americans doing a Mouri war chant?

Which is a big deal still in new Zealand.


By the way how intimidating would that gym be?
Got it. That is cringy. But what do you think about the white dudes on the All Blacks doing a haka as part of that team? Less cringy? Not cringy?


As I said, there's some gray and I'm not sure where cultural appreciation ends and cultural appropriation begins. Or in the case of Sumo, because so much of the tradition is baked into the sport, would trying to decouple the tradition from the mechanics of the sport actually be more cringy?
 
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This is a difficult subject to rationally discuss the pros and cons, as it is related to cultural chauvinism, an emotionally charged issue. I am of conflicted opinion. The video above is similar to the South Pacific Islander ritual war dance, meant to intimidate the opponent with a show of unity and strength and perhaps avoiding actual physical combat. Similar displays are seen throughout the animal world to avoid intraspecies violence. Some of the ritual in sumo is based on this, much on religious (Shinto, a very Japanese) tradition. Hard for outsiders to identify with Shinto.
As a consideration, it may be hard for someone like me to understand the Shinto traditions baked into Sumo. Maybe more accurate to say that fully understanding the cultural significance of them is difficult. Intellectually, it's not too esoteric. But what about people who have been fully immersed in the lifestyle for 2/3rds of their life, starting in adolescence? Are you saying they wouldn't understand?

While other cultures may appropriate these kind of rituals on a physical level, chances are they are not a part of their cultural soul and do not have the personal meaning they have to the native culture. Imagine your country's national flag taken over by another country and used there for some mundane purpose. If you're British, how would you feel about the Palace Guards bear fur hats adopted by McDonald's as part of their uniform? Maybe some wouldn't care, but others would feel an insult.

How would an Apache or Navajo feel if a person of European descent joined in one of their cultural spirit dances? I think there would need to be a process before they felt comfortable with it. Personally, I have respect for most cultural traditions.

To an extent, though, this is already being done. Whether a foreigner can participate isn't actually the issue. That's been adjudicated and we can see foreigners have been a part of Grand Sumo for many decades. So, the question that comes to my mind is, how many is too many? If a member of the Salish tribe decides to hold a potlatch, should he or she limit the number of non-tribal members? Should he or she be required to limit the number to, say, 1 or 10?

I think it's relevant to remember that we are not talking about something that is only cultural. It is also a professional sport.

It is practically impossible for a non-Japanese to be accepted as Japanese (legally and socially) even if born there. It is very insular. Never colonized, little immigration, homogenous language and race, and a very long history of social norms and traditions, it is a very protective country. One can argue this is a source of national pride and strength of their culture (with many admirable qualities, IMO), and can perhaps said to be racist as well (though I think the racism is based on anybody being non-Japanese, rather than just color) It is much different than the USA which was built from a number of immigrant origins and customs. This too, is a source of strength, as well as a source of problems.

Yeah. I think that's definitely part of what I'm thinking about. When you start to talk about ethnic purity, as opposed to cultural, and you start to limit the number of ethnic foreigners (e.g., a naturalized japanese citizen vs an ethnically japanese citizen by birth)... now we're getting into some pretty dark stuff. I mean, akin to white nationalists promoting white replacement theory on the news.

And this is, I think, a core question. Is Sumo risking losing its cultural identity by trying too hard to keep it ethnically pure?

After these considerations, I am still of mixed feelings on the general subject. Regarding sumo, specifically, I think if outsiders are skillful and fully respect the traditions of the sport (which is, or at least, used to be seen as more than mere sport to the Japanese) they should be allowed to compete and be treated on an equal basis within the sumo world. They should not expect to be easily or quickly considered "family" however. Such is the reality.

Mostly, I agree. But remember, this is not just a cultural issue. This is a profession. In any kind of professional leadership position, you realize pretty quickly that you can't control what people think, but you can control what they do. I don't try to keep employees from being racists, but I will not tolerate it on the job. In the same way, if you remove the racist policies in Sumo, such as the ones that they are looking at that would prohibit a foreign born, naturalized citizen like Hakuho from managing a stable and coaching future rikishi, that's a good thing (IMO). This will be a step in the right direction whether the Japanese guys in charge are racists or not.
 

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This may sound a bit controversial, but work with me: countries outside of the West may not have as much of a moral obligation to non-racism as Western countries do. Two things to keep in mind:

1. The racial diversity of countries in the Western Hemisphere is not entirely the result of voluntary immigration.

2. The US and much of Western Europe, for better or for worse, has been involved in every corner of the globe and has affected lives there.

Another thing about the US: we have a nationality, but not an ethnicity that's tied to it. This is something we can't relate to. Most Latin American countries were able to develop that, but the US didn't. That said, it may not be fair for us to hold countries with ethnicities that are tied to their nationalities (and have not meddled with the rest of the world) to our standard of non-racism.

For countries outside of the West that have mostly kept to themselves; if they've left everyone else alone, it could be seen as excusable if they asked the same of everyone else.

If you disagree with this, I completely 100% understand why. I'm saying that there are two ways to look at this.
 
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drop bear

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Americans doing it is definitely cringy. But what about some white dudes on the all blacks in new Zealand doing it?

There is a fair bit of subjectivity. If you make the all blacks I assume you get some sort of automatic pass.

Half their anthem is Mouri as well.

So less of a colour and more of a country of origin. In this case.
 

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There is also the fact that half the 'white dudes' being referred to have Maori ancestry. Skin colour, funnily enough does not always reflect 'race'. Hmm. Maybe something to learn from that?

I love Japan, but couching this topic as anything other than racist is absurd. Racism and nationalism are a real issue there. That's why they have black vans full of political 'activists' driving around blasting offensive rhetoric in the streets.

Aikoku_Dantai_Keiai_Wajuku_sound_truck_20060525.jpg
 

isshinryuronin

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But what about people who have been fully immersed in the lifestyle for 2/3rds of their life, starting in adolescence? Are you saying they wouldn't understand?
Not at all. If fully immersed for such a time and having an open and accepting mind, embracing the culture, understanding should come. Thru understanding, appreciation will follow. It may, unfortunately, be harder for others to accept them.
Is Sumo risking losing its cultural identity by trying too hard to keep it ethnically pure?
I think it would be the opposite, unless the provision stated in the first quote is held to. Often, other cultures arrive and try to impose their values and customs on the new country, rather than adopt and cherish the culture of their new home. This last part does not, and should not, require them to abandon their native culture and traditions.

Side note: Historically, most of the time, a conquering nation does require abandonment of the occupied country's culture, religion and even language, imposing its own blueprint on the native population. It was Gen. McArthur's genius as Governor of Japan after WWII to strike a balance, modernizing Japanese society while keeping it Japanese to the benefit of all. IMO.


prohibit a foreign born, naturalized citizen like Hakuho from managing a stable and coaching
A naturalized citizen cannot become President of the United States by law. Business is a different story, In this specific case, a naturalized citizen, I think, should have the same opportunities as a native born citizen. Whether or not others will support the business or person in the enterprise is another story.
 

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There is also the fact that half the 'white dudes' being referred to have Maori ancestry. Skin colour, funnily enough does not always reflect 'race'. Hmm. Maybe something to learn from that?

I love Japan, but couching this topic as anything other than racist is absurd. Racism and nationalism are a real issue there. That's why they have black vans full of political 'activists' driving around blasting offensive rhetoric in the streets.

Aikoku_Dantai_Keiai_Wajuku_sound_truck_20060525.jpg
For me personally you have to separate the two. Racism and nationalism are not joined at the hip.

Where is make sense I hope everyone who grew up in a given country has a strong sense of nationalism. Understandably this is certainly easier in some countries than others. Albeit, people who grew up there may not see it that way.
Racism is such a socially charged word and media charged word that it is often hard to evaluate. It is being use as a tool/weapon for so much more that just base racism reform.

In this context, (Sumo) I freely admit I do not know a lot about it. But as far as the national aspect, it makes sense to me.
 

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In this context, (Sumo) I freely admit I do not know a lot about it. But as far as the national aspect, it makes sense to me.

Would it have made sense to you to preclude all but white american people from playing baseball still?
 

dvcochran

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Would it have made sense to you to preclude all but white american people from playing baseball still?
No. America has been a melting pot from the very beginning. You could never make such a division here nor would it be considered nowadays. Yes, there was segregation in sports for a time (way back) but that was short lived as cooler minds prevailed.
As I understand it, that is not the issue in Sumo.
 
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Would it have made sense to you to preclude all but white american people from playing baseball still?
Well, I mean, that’s how it was in the MLB until 1947. I think we can all agree now that having a negro league, and keeping the MLB white was very racist. And to the point of this thread, very bad for the sport.
Just to be clear, are you asking if we should go back to that? Hopefully, even the most overt racists would be shamed into saying no,
 

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No. America has been a melting pot from the very beginning. You could never make such a division here nor would it be considered nowadays. Yes, there was segregation in sports for a time (way back) but that was short lived as cooler minds prevailed.
As I understand it, that is not the issue in Sumo.

You could never? As you go on to say.. you did. Not for a time, for a long time.

What's the distinction between a 'melting pot', and a country with a slightly less diverse ethnic makeup? Minorities don't need to be treated equally in the latter?

How is that not the issue in sumo? The governing body has always restricted sumo camps to a single 'foreigner'. And the point of this thread is that they have also refused to allow a 'foreigner' to open his own camp. Where is the distinction?

Well, I mean, that’s how it was in the MLB until 1947. I think we can all agree now that having a negro league, and keeping the MLB white was very racist. And to the point of this thread, very bad for the sport.
Just to be clear, are you asking if we should go back to that? Hopefully, even the most overt racists would be shamed into saying no,

No, I'm not asking whether we should go back to that. I'm using that historical event to highlight the overtly racist and outdated practices employed in Japan. They are virtually analogous. I'm frankly amazed by dvcochran's defense of nationalism and apparent ignorance of the connections between nationalism, racism and the outcomes seen in both MLB a century ago, and sumo now. I raised a hopefully more familiar scenario to illustrate my point.
 

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What's the distinction between a 'melting pot', and a country with a slightly less diverse ethnic makeup?

How is that not the issue in sumo? The governing body has always restricted sumo camps to a single 'foreigner'. And the point of this thread is that they have also refused to allow a 'foreigner' to open his own camp.



No, I'm not asking whether we should go back to that. I'm using that historical event to highlight the overtly racist and outdated practices employed in Japan. They are virtually analogous. I'm frankly amazed by dvcochran's defense of nationalism and apparent ignorance of the connections between nationalism, racism and the outcomes seen in both MLB a century ago, and sumo now. I raised a hopefully more familiar scenario to illuminate my point.
You are going to have to expand on that one.
Frankly, I am offended by people who have no clue of what nationalism means. Blurring it with racism is about as wrong as a person can get.
Entitlement can really mess with someone's understanding of reality.
It being a century ago should be your first clue.
 

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Why do I have to expand? Can you answer my questions before asking your own?

What is the distinction between what is happening in sumo in Japan, and what happened in MLB in the US?

I don't know why you'd be offended. I didn't 'blur' it with racism, I pointed out that the two are historically and culturally intrinsically linked. I don't know quite how you're disagreeing with that; perhaps you could explain?
 

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Why do I have to expand? Can you answer my questions before asking your own?

What is the distinction between what is happening in sumo in Japan, and what happened in MLB in the US?

I don't know why you'd be offended. I didn't 'blur' it with racism, I pointed out that the two are historically and culturally intrinsically linked. I don't know quite how you're disagreeing with that; perhaps you could explain?
Like I said previously, I do not know enough about the specifics of the Sumo issue to speak to it in detail. But that was not your question.
You asked: "Would it have made sense to you to preclude all but white american people from playing baseball still?"
I gave you my best answer and you choose to turn my answer into something I did not say nor something you asked about. Dude.

So, what are you trying to say? What point are you trying to get out?
 
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