The recent death of George Floyd, an African-American man killed during a recent police arrest, has become a tipping point in the long history of racial tension in the United States, leading to mass demonstrations around the world.
Unfortunately, awareness of the kind of oppression and systematic racism that African Americans face daily is limited, if not non-existent, in Japan. It is probably safe to say that the majority of our customers feel that something like the Black Lives Matter movement has no relation to this largely homogeneous society. Thus, it may be a bit confusing why Kyoto Brewing Co., founded and operated by three non-black non-Japanese, decided to take part in the Black is Beautiful worldwide brewing collaboration.
We cannot begin to understand the plight of African-Americans throughout their long and difficult history in the United States. Japan has been great to us and, being members of a minority group here, we often feel fortunate that we have never had to feel physically threatened. That doesn’t mean that Japan is a country free of prejudice, however, and, while we cannot claim that we have experienced anything close to the level of racism and bigotry as the Black community has endured, brushes with discrimination have allowed us at moments to at least be able to relate to some of the things that the movement is bringing attention to.
Participating in the Black is Beautiful collaboration will of course show support for its fundamental mission: to raise awareness of the injustices that many people of colour face daily. It will also show that we believe the brewing community should be and fundamentally is an inclusive one that welcomes people from a wide variety of backgrounds. What we specifically hope that participating here in Japan will do is draw attention to the fact that as much as Japan would like to deny it, this is not a homogenous society. All too often, people here are treated differently simply because they do not fit the “norm” set by the majority, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, country of origin, sexual preference, class status of ancestors, gender, or age.
More details to follow regarding the beer itself as well as what organization we will be supporting with the beer’s proceeds.