Difference Conference 2019

Pre-Conference Story

It has been about a year that I do not participate in predominantly white ELT conferences and events, and this has helped me heal in so many ways.

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Source: Click here

I got to know about Difference Conference: Living on the Edge: The Joys and Challenges of Being Different in Japan 2019 through a Friend of Color. I noticed that Avril Matsui, the co-founder of the support and friendship group Black Women in Japan (BWIJ) and the creator of the Nagoya Women’s Empowerment Circle, will be presenting and moderating a panel session at this event. I checked the schedule and found Prof. Gerry Yokota’s name among the presenters and I always want to listen to her. So, I decided to attend the conference.

I shared the conference’s flyer on Women of Color in ELT Facebook group and I received a message from one of the members, Prima Shariff. She said she is coming all the way from Oita to attend this conference and asked about accommodation in Osaka. I told her she can stay at my place and we can navigate the conference together.

Prima is from San Jose, California, and she is an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) at Oita Board of Education. She has recently moved to Japan and Women of Color in ELT did connect us to each other.


Living on the Edge: The Joys and Challenges of Being Different in Japan

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To me, the highlight of the Welcome & Opening Remarks was this graphic that I could find on pixabay, and again to me, it means we are different yet not equal. Read this book if you doubt the last two words in the previous sentence: Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education

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Source: Click here

The English and Japanese interpretation services were available for the participants. I remember it was mentioned that some toilets are gender neutral at the venue and clearly marked. The conference had a Code of Conduct in both English and Japanese and I think it could have been mentioned during the opening session: 

​This conference is committed to providing a safe, friendly and welcoming environment for all, regardless of race, gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, physical appearance, national origin, ethnicity or religion. We welcome vigorous debate while maintaining a respectful community. Discriminatory behavior will not be accepted.

本会議では、人種、性別、性自認・表現、年齢、性指向、身体能力、外見、出身国、民族性および宗教に関わらず、ご参加の皆様に対して、安全、友好的且つ快適な環境を提供することを表明します。互いを尊重するコミュニティ環境を保持すると同時に、活発な討論を歓迎いたします。差別的な行為は一切行わないこととします。

Source: Click here

I also noticed that prayer room was not available and I thought I could mention this somewhere in my blogpost about the conference. 

I attended three sessions in the morning, the conference panel session, and one session in the afternoon, and here I will share some of the highlights from these sessions.

Note: I was asked to remove the information about one of the sessions.


Is It Language? Is It Culture? Is It Gender? Or Is It Just Me? by Gerry Yokota

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Abstract:

When seeking to understand the causes of miscommunication or conflict, one may consider various differences, such as language, culture, or gender. As a person of mixed ancestry, for example, I may feel excluded from a group I seek to identify with and speculate about the causes of my inability to fit in, but my assumptions may be wildly off the mark. In this session, we will explore how identities and differences affect our interactions, taking cues from a cognitive poetic approach to music. Depending on audience interest, discussion may include possible applications to classroom activities for exploring notions about diversity, inclusion and equity in intercultural communication.

Source: Click here

Gerry started her presentation with a poem, titled Shadowboxing, by Serafin Malay Syquia:

Shadowboxing by Serafin Malay Syquia

in this corner

weighing less than he should
wearing stained trunks
aching from that cavity
unfilled
from that money wasted on paid love
styling monkey suits
blinding spotlights

trusting crooked managers and
fur-lined blondes

in this corner

scarred by years of
left jabs and right crosses of
unfilled flushes and snake eyes
staring at closed doors and no
help wanted signs

in this corner

leather fingers jabbing rice in
thin Chinese diners in
this corner
he sits a
story
aching
to be told

Gerry then talked about her mixed roots: 1/4 Japanese, 1/4 Austrian, 1/2 Scottish (3/4 white). She shared her racial identity journey with us and explained that she went through a complex process of trying to identify as a minority before realizing she cannot and should not deny the privilege that comes from her 3/4 whiteness.

Gerry introduced some key points for discussion such as:

  • Stereotypes
  • Self-disclosure
  • Self-censorship
  • Dependency on external validation
  • Unlearning privilege
  • The danger of a single story
  • Ally-Supporter-Accomplice

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Gerry has been active in the anti-apartheid movement in the eighties and has served as Nelson Mandela’s interpreter when he visited Japan in the nineties. You can read more about Gerry’s activities here:

You might also want to listen to Gerry’s Nelson Mandela: A Musical Tribute playlist. I found it while I was searching for her slides.

Gerry then shared another poem with us:

Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey 

I’ve seen the world, done it all
Had my cake now
Diamonds, brilliant, and Bel Air now
Hot summer nights, mid-July
When you and I were forever wild
The crazy days, city lights
The way you’d play with me like a child

Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will, I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

I’ve seen the world, lit it up as my stage now
Channeling angels in the new age now
Hot summer days, rock and roll
The way you’d play for me at your show
And all the ways I got to know
Your pretty face and electric soul

Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will, I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

Dear Lord, when I get to heaven
Please, let me bring my man
When he comes, tell me that You’ll let him in
Father, tell me if You can
All that grace, all that body
All that face makes me wanna party
He’s my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds

Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothin’ but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will, I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

Will you still love me when I’m not young and beautiful?

She finished her presentation by:

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What Are You? Gerry’s reading of the 1971 poem by Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto


Immigration’s Children by Marcio Saiki

Abstract: 

In Brazil, Brazilians people used to say that I am Japanese, and here in Japan, Japanese people say I am Brazilian, so who am I? For five years, I was the Director of a Brazilian School in Aichi. Brazilian children from different ages go to this kind of school instead of regular schools in Japan. Why does this happen? First, it is very important to understand about how the Brazilian immigration to Japan since 1990 occurred. Another thing to consider is that this immigration is singular, very rare in the history of human relations, an immigration to the home country of one’s parents or grandparents.

Marico is a photographer and you can follow his art at: https://www.facebook.com/EFMS.Nagoya/

He talked about the Japanese immigration to Brazil and the Brazilian immigration to Japan. He also talked about his personal stories as a child of immigration. I had the chance to ask him where he fully feels belonged and he said Brazil.

These two slides show some examples of racial slurs used against the Japanese people in Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Final and Critical Remarks

Prima and I expected to see more Black people and People of Color at the conference and we both found the event predominantly white. The only Black woman that I met was Avril. I was the only woman with a headscarf and navigating the conference with Prima helped me a lot enjoy the conference.

I did not write about a session that I attended on positivity in detail. I think it is necessary to mention that wrong information about anxiety and depression was shared during this session, and I personally told the presenter that some folx do need to take medication and “positive” thoughts are not enough to deal with clinical anxiety and depression. I also emphasized that some of the sources of unhappiness and “negativity” come from systemic oppression, and kindness is not the only solution, especially when it is suggested by people who are not affected by those forms of oppression. I am glad some members of TELL—a non-for-profit organization that provides support and counseling services to Japan’s international community—also confirmed this. I hope the reviewers of the next conference will make sure that presentations on such topics do not perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health and promote toxic positivity instead of genuine optimism.

To me, the highlight of the Youth Perspectives on Difference panel was the part about the experiences of Sheizaf Ume Lee Lugas, the multi-racial panelist. She clearly, confidently, and directly talked about race. She urged us to “fight for something” and she shared her  disappointment as she believed “no one really cares.” She mentioned the term social suicide (this term is quite related to race and racial exclusion in society) a couple of times and how she feels like she is experiencing it at school.  

During the Q&A, my “too sensitive” racial radar could find an example of a pattern of white dominance, whitewashing the experiences of People of Color, and white saviorism. This might have happened unconsciously and unintentionally, but as we all hopefully know in discussions about race and racism, intention doesn’t matter. Impact does.

I believe when a white man compares his experience of social suicide at school with a multi-racial person who identifies as a Woman of Color and is sharing her experiences of racism, this should be disrupted. Many racial equity advocates have stated that:

  • White people should not speak over People of Color and belittle, minimize, and invalidate their experiences of racism by simply saying that “This has happened to me, too” (Refer to Common Patterns of Whites by Dr. Robin DiAngelo—a renowned anti-racism educator and a scholar in the area of Critical Racial and Social Justice Education and Whiteness Studies).
  • “When Black people and People of Color talk about race with white people, they do not have the same institutional power as white people who belong to the dominant culture.” Source: Click here
  • “Because of white supremacy, many white peopleespecially white men, who are also influenced by patriarchyhave been conditioned to speak over other people and dominate spaces.” Source: Click here
  • “Unfortunately, for white people beginning on their journey of racial awareness, truly listening to others’ stories often requires inserting themselves in the narrative somehow, in order to prevent themselves from denying or resisting what they hear.” Source: Click here

White folx need to be reminded of the following points:

  • “Don’t assume, full stop, that you can understand what it’s like to experience racism. You can’t. That’s the whole point.” Source: Click here
  • “Understand that nothing in your life has been untouched by your whiteness. Everything you have would have been harder to come by if you had not been born white.” Source: Click here
  • “Notice how racism is denied, minimized, and justified.” Source: Click here
  • “Approach racial justice conversations with humility.” Source: Click here
  • “Recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and People of Color deserve space to be heard without white people talking over them.” Source: Click here
  • “Listen to others’ opinions and experiences without trying to interpret them.” Source: Click here

In the Conference Feedback Survey, one of the questions was: How can we make this conference better? Here is my answer:

White voices should not be prioritized above the voices of People of Color. During Q&A, People of Color and other marginalized folx should be prioritized. This could be clearly mentioned at the beginning of the panel session.

The values of whiteness are the water in which we all swim. No one is immune. Those values dictate who speaks, how loud, when, the words we use, what we don’t say, what is ignored, who is validated and who is not. Unless we are actively and persistently dismantling these constructs, we are abiding by them. In integrated spaces (where we are less likely to be ourselves given the divisions that white dominance has created), we fall into the roles society has assigned us. As a Person of Color, and perhaps the only one in the room, it’s exhausting to always be swimming upstream. To survive in this society, we learn to hold our tongue, to “code switch” to fit in. This is about survival and the basic human need to feel that we belong.

Source: Click here

I did hold my tongue and upon reflection, I really felt that it is important to bring this to the attention of conference organizers and I dared to blog about it.

That’s why we need what Gerry referred to as allies, supporters, and accomplices to disrupt when whiteness gets centered as it is not easy for the only ones in the room to constantly deCenter whiteness.

And again, let’s keep in mind that:

As an ally, your role is not to “fix” communities of color. It is not your job to swoop down and take action on their behalf without knowing what the community needs to begin with. It might be easy to succumb to the desire to do things that seem good for others because they make you feel good, but it’s important to resist that urge and reexamine how to help.

Telling a Person of Color how to deal with oppression may seem like a helpful idea, but in reality, it’s harmful. Offering advice implies that the onus is on them, and assumes they have not already made efforts to overcome racial injustice.

Source: Click here

The standing nail and the hammer that we all equally had on our conference badges doesn’t mean that we experience oppression equally.

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Some (most?) of us are coming from a point of privilege and we need to understand and acknowledge the difference between being a numerical minority (which is just a statistic) and being marginalized. We should bear in mind that focusing on “diversity” instead of justice is harmful as it upholds the status quo and does not lead to structural change. If you have not read critical work on diversity, you can start with reading and following:

To name a few

@IBJIYONGI, @SaraNAhmed@alwaystheself, @Ebonyteach, @blackgirlinmain, @CoreyMiles__, @ShanaVWhite@Bali_Maha, @IjeomaOluo, @KalwantBhopal@mochamomma@triciaebarvia@TchKimPossible@pgorski


Very Final and Critical Remark

I’d like to thank Prima for sharing her conference photos with me.

Job Hunting in Japan as a “Non-native” WOC in ELT

Job Hunting

I defended my PhD and graduated in March, 2019. Such a stressful month. Why? Because my student visa was valid till April 2nd, 2019, and I had to change my visa status to be able to continue working in Japan (Application for Change of Status of Residence).

As a student in Japan you can work up to 28 hours a week. You need to apply for “Permission to Engage in Activity other than that Permitted under the Status of Residence Previously Granted,” which is technically a work permit. The application process is pretty straightforward and you just need to fill out a form. That is why I could legally start working part-time at several universities and at an English conversation school (eikaiwa) in Kansai area from 2017.

I am planning to blog about my experiences as a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at Osaka University, Graduate School of Language and Culture. I preferred to write about my job-hunting experiences first because most of the tips I was given or found were not really helpful. I do not think many folx will find my blogpost helpful, but the thing is this blogpost is for few English teachers who have a similar situation like mine to see I could, so can they.

If you see it, you can be it!

First, I would like to start with two confessions:

  1. I have never been turned down for a job in Japan because I am labeled as a “non-native” speaker. I have applied for jobs via email and have never heard back. I have applied for jobs and was not hired, but I have never been told that it is because I am a “non-native” speaker. Not in my face. Not yet.
  2. When I came to Japan, I was racially naive, unaware, and ignorant. For example, I thought white is a racial slur. I was a big fan of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” or mottoes like “We all belong to one human race” without critically thinking about them through a racial lens. So, I, as a WOC, maintained the status quo by being a white supremacy tool. Moreover, I used to overemphasize that I am not Arab, which I realized that it was a racist way to identify myself. Now, I am reading on race and I want to be an antiracist because as Ibram X. Kendi states, “You are either racist or antiracist. There is nothing in between.” I will blog about my racial awakening later. For now, I’d like to share another quote from How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

#WOCinELT

 

Finding ELT Positions in Japan

Networking

According to Johnson and Dillon (1996),

Connections (jinmyaku) are important in any culture but in many cases seem to be a necessity in Japan. The best positions are usually not advertised in journals or newspapers, rather they are acquired by word-of-mouth. Basically, the chances of getting a good job are directly proportional to the quality of your connections.

Paul Raine (2012) is also quite honest about finding university English teaching positions in Japan:

The most common and effective way of finding university English teaching positions in Japan is through the referrals of friends and acquaintances. Indeed, many universities never need to advertise positions, relying instead on a surprisingly close-knit network of their current employees, employees acquaintances, employee’s acquaintances’ friends and… you get the picture. If job searching for university English teaching positions in Japan could be summed up in three words, they would be: network, network, network.

Teaching English at Japanese universities is a very rewarding profession, and English teaching careers are available to those with the motivation and means to undertake the qualifications required. If you are a passionate educator with an inclination toward academic research, then teaching at Japanese universities will definitely provide you with a wealth of opportunities. But be prepared to change jobs frequently, and network extensively if you want to stay ahead of the game.

James McCrostie (2010) believes:

It is no longer enough to simply pay your JALT and JACET membership fees—you also have to get involved with meetings, conferences, editing journals and similar volunteer service. Getting involved also helps one to make connections. Knowing someone never hurts in the current atmosphere of brutal competition.

Something which is missing in these articles written by white male “native” speakers is the fact that the ELT network in Japan is either Japanese dominated or white, male, middle/upper class, “native” English speakers dominated, which makes the job hunting process for non-white, female, non-Japanese, working class “non-native” speakers very challenging.

You need to be Japanese or you need to have what Nelson Flores (2017) calls white qualifications to be able to connect and network. Moreover, networking gets really hard if you do not drink alcohol and are not part of the nominication—from nomu the verb for to drink and communication—culture here in Japan. You can read on nominication culture here.

If white “native” speakers are dealing with “brutal competition” in James McCrostie’s terms, non-white, non-Japanese, “non-native” English speakers are dealing with racism, and if you are a white “native” speaker and complain about racism in Japan, I highly recommend you to read this oldie but goodie: “racism” vs. racism

The sadder news is that lots of times the job ads even on portals like JREC-IN are for formality. The recruiters already know who they want to hire. To formalize the process, they advertise the position. Once I withdrew my job application because of this reason. I was approached by a participant at an ELT conference. They asked if I am interested in teaching part-time at their university. I said, yes. They then advertised the job position. They were so shocked why many folx were applying.

As I confessed, I was racially unaware when I came to Japan. If I could go back in time and give myself some advice on networking, this would be it:

1. Avoid predominantly white ELT organizations.

Why? 

They are not meant for you. You are constantly otherized, you have to deal with loads of microaggressions (euphemism for racism), and this can lead to racial trauma. Read on othering at http://conference.otheringandbelonging.org/

Exception

If a SIG or a group for Scholars/Teachers of Color exists within the organization (e.g., KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG), joining the organization to get involved in those spaces is not a bad idea.

2. Avoid predominantly Japanese ELT organizations.

Why?

Again, they are not meant for you. You still need to “fit in” and deal with loads of racism as racism is not just a white phenomenon.

3. Find networks that are meant for you.

Why?

Because you do not need to “fit in”. Fitting in is not belonging. Stick to SIETAR Japan and join a union.

4. Educate yourself on microaggressions and racial harassment, and learn how to respond to them. Check this out: https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/microaggressions/

5. Your circle of support can be small but very strong.

6. Remember: After all, you are alone on this journey.

“Native Speakers” Only Ads

You see many “native speakers” only ads even when you are looking for university English teaching positions in Japan (e.g., click here: “The Kyoto Sangyo University Common Education Center is looking for native English speakers”).

If you check TEFL Equity website, you will find information on how to tackle native speakerism in ELT. It is often recommended that highlight your strengths, apply, and do not be put off by the “native speakers” only ads.

I no longer find this way of tackling native speakerism empowering because it sounds like we are fixing “non-native” teachers instead of fixing injustice and inequity.

In Adrian Holiday’s terms, native speakerism is ELT’s neo-racism. In his blogpost, Sulaiman Jenkins (2018) writes: 

Ostensibly, ‘native speaker’ means someone who grew up in an English speaking country and has essentially spoken the language from birth, but in reality it has often been used synonymously with being a White speaker from an English speaking country.

The preference for “native” speakers in ELT, which too often means white “native” speakers, is the white supremacy in the ELT industry. So, in our equity efforts, we need to focus on eliminating racist conditions, not on fixing marginalized teachers. 

Another blogpost that I am planning to write is about equity vs equality and how these two terms are being used interchangeably leading to an illusion of equity in ELT. For now, I would like to share a quote by Paul Gorski (2019) based on his article, “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours”:

It is not about fixing marginalized people, it is about fixing the conditions that marginalize people.

I applied for a “native” speaker only job ad once and I will never do that again because if it is not meant for me, I do not want it. I do not want to work with folx who do not understand or do not want to understand how hurtful, painful, exclusionary their job ads are. If you get a job through a racist, discriminatory job ad, you will most probably work at a toxic workplace.

Tokenism

Recently, “non-native” speakers from any nationality are encouraged to apply especially for university ELT positions in Japan. To be honest, it feels good to see such job ads; however, I highly recommend you to be careful as these are part of “Diversity” and “Inclusion” efforts to “globalize”, “internationalize”, and “diversify” Japan, and chances are, you will experience tokenism. From a racial perspective, tokenism is the practice of using People of Color to create the appearance of “diversity”, and that is why tokenism is a form of racism. Here is a narrative that can shed light on this concept:

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Source: Click here

To get more familiar with the concept of tokenism, please refer to this post: 8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits

You might ask, how can I make sure that I am not going to be a token hire? How can I avoid tokenism?

Ask questions! For example,

  • Is your university/school a safe place for Teachers of Color?
  • How do you deal with racial harassment?
  • Does your university pay “native” and “non-native” teachers equally?
  • Am I the only non-Japanese, “non-native” teacher at your department/school?
  • Why do you hire “non-native” teachers?

How I Found my ELT Jobs in Japan

Like many folx, I found all my ELT jobs in Japan through my connections, and they are all white and “native” speakers. It feels like I need to be approved by a “native” speaker. When I am introduced by a “native” speaker, I simply start working without even being interviewed.

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Source: Click here

My first university job experience started this way:

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Source: Click here

It was a semester of racial harassment and bullying, and you can check these two links to see how it ended:

My first ever university job experience in Japan was disappointing, but I learned that as a WOC (Woman of Color: a term I learned from a Pakistani American friend here in Japan. Check here to learn about the history of this political term), I need to protect myself. I learned that I should not apply for any job ad out there without knowing about the workplace. I started talking to few folx in my small yet strong circle of support about my challenges, and they helped me find safe workplaces.

Visa Application: Designated Activities or Professor Visa?

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, March 2019 was very stressful. It was time to apply for working visa in Japan.

The first thing that I did was to talk to some folx who are involved in JALT Job Information Center (JIC). They told me that they do not know about visa requirements because most of them are married to Japanese citizens and have Spouse Visa. They also acknowledged that there is some discrimination if you are from a certain country such as Iran. They suggested that I should go to the Immigration Bureau and talk to the immigration consultants there.

Next, I contacted the universities to ask about visa sponsorship. One university said, yes, we will provide it for you and the other one said, “our school would not be able to provide visa sponsorship for a part-time instructor.”

I then went to Support Office for International Students and Scholars, Osaka University many times. I also went to Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau twice (the immigration consultants there do not speak English) and asked which kind of visa I should apply. I brought all my documents and explained my situation:

  1. I will continue teaching part-time at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (6 classes per week)
  2. I will start teaching part-time at the University of Hyogo (2 classes per week)
  3. I will continue teaching part-time at an eikaiwa (6-7 fifty minute classes per week)
  4. One of the universities will provide visa sponsorship and the other one does not.
  5. My boss at the eikaiwa is willing to fill out any necessary form.
  6. I have applied for a full time position at Baika Women’s University (got rejected), Kwansei University (still waiting for the result), and Konan University (still waiting for the result)

We checked List of Statuses of Residence together both at the Support Office and the Immigration Bureau and I was told that I need to apply for Designated Activities (特定活動) visa for the purpose of continuing job hunting in Japan and I need to wait till my graduation day (March 25th, 2019). The length of the initial Designated Activities Visa is 6 months and it can be renewed.

I started collecting all the documents and filling out the forms for Designated Activities visa. I included all the documents that proved that I am in the middle of my job hunting (e.g., rejection letters, emails). It was mid February, everything was ready, and I was just waiting for my graduation day. I have learned from experience that I need to double check everything. That is why I went to the Support Office again, and I was not sure how to answer a question on one of the the visa application forms. They called the Immigration Bureau to find the answer and they suddenly told me that I should apply for Professor (教授) visa because if I apply for Designated Activities visa, I cannot work as a part-time lecturer!!!

It was a big shock to me because I did not have much time and one of the universities had told me that they do not provide visa sponsorship.

Another source of stress was that “native” part-timers usually teach 20-25 university classes per week (I have no idea how they can do that) and I only had 8 university classes and 6-7 eikaiwa classes, which meant my monthly salary would be around 270,000 yen.

I tried to apply for more part-time positions that I happened to know about through personal Facebook pages of some of my friends and colleagues (this is a common way to advertise part-time ELT university positions!). In the meantime, I started preparing the documents for the Professor visa. I noticed that the sponsorship form looks more like confirming that this teacher has a one-year part-time contract at our university and her annual salary is XXX yen. So, I contacted the university that told me they do not provide visa sponsorship for part-timers and shared the file with them. They said they will fill it out for me!

Here is the link to the form (last page: For organization):

http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001290150.pdf

It is worth noting that this is the only question which is related to language education on the form and there is nothing about native speakerism:

Total period of receiving the foreign language education when you teach the foreign language

Also, unlike UK or Canadian visa forms, there is no question about your previous visa refusals or about your travel history. As Bathsheba Okwenje (2019) says,

There is the toll of a possible rejection – a rejection which will affect every subsequent visa application for the rest of your life, because whether you have previously been denied a visa is a specific question on applications. This rejection becomes yet another obstacle to overcome, another area for you to prove that you are indeed worthy of travel and of being in a country that is not your own.

If I am not mistaken, this kind of visa application is known as self-sponsorship among “native” teachers in Japan who need to apply for visa, but I never heard this from the immigration consultants at the Immigration Bureau or I never saw this on the visa application forms.

Visa-queue

Source: Click here

Finally, I applied for the Professor visa with only 8 university classes (2 on Tuesdays, 4 on Wednesdays, and 2 on Fridays) and 6-7 eikaiwa classes (on Wednesdays). I could not find more part-time university jobs. My application for Kwainsei University full-time position got rejected and I never heard back from Konan University (if you are a recruiter, please consider that some folx can show rejection letters as a proof of their job hunting). I paid only 4000 yen for the visa application, which is pretty cheap compared to UK or Canadian visa application fees. The immigration staff checked all my documents to make sure that everything is OK. In general, the application submission process went smoothly, and I was eventually granted the Professor visa. 

Note: I have decided to confront my perfectionism and imposter syndrome and I am planning to blog more. I do not have time to proofread. So, I embrace all my mistakes and typos, which might also be perceived as mistakes. To me, they are the sign that I write in another language: My mother tongue ❤

Women of Color in ELT

I’ve been trying to fit into the unjust, unfair, inequitable, and exclusionary ELT world about 5 years since I moved to Japan.

I have stopped trying to fit in. What happened and why? The following figure can give you some idea. You can also go through the blogposts here. So, I no longer wish to be “included” and no longer let anyone “include” me as those who have the power to “include”, have also the power to exclude.

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Source: Click here h/t: Click here

This blogpost by Maha Bali, Unpacking Terms Around Equity, Power and Privilege, and this lecture (Revolution Todayby Angela Davis were so eye-opening to me as I truly realized why “diversity” and “inclusion” are such problematic terms.

If we stand up against racism, we want much more than inclusion. Inclusion is not enough. Diversity is not enough, and as a matter of fact, we do not wish to be included in a racist society.

I remember that when I came to Japan, I was added to or encouraged to join ELT Facebook groups about gender equality/equity. Well, I did. I then turned the groups’ notifications off, and I told myself, I live in Japan and I have no gender issues anymore. So naive, huh?

I’m now acutely aware of the inequities imposed by the intersections of race, gender, skin color, physical appearance, nationality, and religion.

I even shifted my research focus from Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) —quite male-dominated area of research in ELT— to Social Justice Education and Equity Studies in Education (SESE).

I supported, joined, and got involved in feminist/equity/equality movements in ELT:

JALT GALE SIG

Women in ELT

EVE: Equal Voices in ELT

Equality in ELT in Japan

I also read about:

The Fair List

Gender Equality ELT

There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me that something is missing: A sense of belonging. A sense of representation.

I believe the reason is that the issues related to Women of Color in ELT, whose struggles are way different, are often ignored, and issues related to race are often swept under the rug.

For example, a database of women ELT speakers

  • cannot help women who have visa issues (e.g., read my visa story here, click here as well) and that is why we need to talk more about open access in ELT and support movements like Virtually Connecting.
  • cannot help women who live in contexts where currency crisis is an issue and that is why we need to add class to the equation.
  • cannot help women who find ELT conferences inhospitable and unsafe and that is why their needs should be addressed (e.g., how to navigate predominately white spaces in ELT).

I tried hard to communicate with these pictures.

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Click here

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Click here

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Click here

I googled and started reading to connect and bridge the historical gaps in my mind.

For example, I found this:

Rosie the Riveter isn’t a universal icon: “That was a white woman’s story”

So it wasn’t that I was boycotting the Rosie story. It simply had nothing to say to me.

That is why, inspired by Scholars of Color in Language Studies (SCiLS) and KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG, I have decided to start this movement in the hope of bringing Women of Color in ELT together so that we can support each other, learn together, and share our feelings that are constantly denied and invalidated by the dominant power structure in ELT:

 Women of Color in ELT

Women of Color in ELT, Twitter post

I want Women of Color to stand together against racial erasure in ELT.

I want Women of Color’s intersecting complex identities to be represented in ELT.

I want Women of Color in ELT to belong.

Peace, radical love, and revolutionary hope,

Parisa


You can read about WOC in ELT and its mission and goals at:

https://womenofcolorinelt.wordpress.com/about-woc-in-elt/

If you identify as a Woman of Color in ELT (read about the term “Woman of Color” here) and would like to add your name to the Database of WOC in ELT, you can fill out this form.

If you are a true ally and want to support this movement, please check WOC in ELT Supporters.