It’s Thanksgiving which means tables decorated with tiny porcelain figures of Native Americans sharing corn with pilgrims. It’s a holiday about being grateful, coming together, and being at peace but while we use caricatures of a great people, mainstream media ignores their cries for help. While we set tables with servings of food that are far too large, the original inhabitants of this great nation struggle to fight for clean drinking water and respect for their ancestors.
I’m not great at words but this issue is very dear to my heart so here’s some art.
shoutout to all the girls who have ever felt like the ugly one in their group of lighter skinned friends, shoutout to all the girls that have ever purchased skin bleach products to make their skin lighter, shoutout to all the girls who have watched diy videos on youtube just to find a way to be light, shoutout to all the girls who have been told they were ugly bc their skin was darker than others, shoutout to all the girls who don’t go out in the sun anymore in fear of getting darker, shoutout to all the girls that wear sunscreen, long sleeves, etc. to avoid the sun from touching their skin, shoutout to all the girls who are dark-skinned, bc they are beautiful & deserve better
Gursewak’s parents, who are Sikhs, fled to Japan from India in the 1990s. For several years, they lived without visas under the radar of the authorities until they were put on a status known as “provisional release” in 2001. It means they can stay in Japan as long as their asylum application is under review.
Asylum seekers are building Japan’s roads and sewers But it also means they can’t work, they don’t have health insurance and they need permission to travel outside the prefecture where they live. They are also subject to unannounced inspections by immigration officers at their home and they face detention at any time. There are currently some 4,700 people with this status living in Japan.
Gursewak, who has never left Japan, has inherited his parents’ provisional release status and all the restrictions that go with it. That fate has exposed him and more than 500 other children who share his predicament to lives of perpetual uncertainty. They can go to government-run schools, where tuition is largely free, but university is out of reach for most because they and their parents aren’t allowed to work and so can’t afford the fees. These children, many of whom are asylum seekers, will soon face a stark choice between forced unemployment and working illegally.
“Since I was born I’ve only ever interacted with Japanese people,” said Gursewak, who is now 17, speaks the language with native fluency and considers himself Japanese. “I don’t get why Japan won’t accept me.”
While there were almost 14,000 asylum cases under review at the end of 2015, Japan accepted only 27 refugees last year. The year before that, the number was 11.