Feeling Represented : Impact of Biracial Black and Japanese Athletes for Black and Japanese People Worldwide


In my ethnographic research on the identities and embodied and digital practices of biracial Black and Japanese people globally, I realized how much representation mattered to them to their feeling of belonging. Because of the lack of representation of Black and Japanese people in a given socio-cultural context (in Japan or elsewhere), biracial Black and Japanese people go through a constant search for acceptance and yet they never fully fit it. However, more recently, the rise of Black and Japanese athletes on the global stage has helped Black and Japanese people navigate their identities and empowered them. Indeed, one of my interviewees, who is the father of a Black and Japanese child living in Japan said: “My son had a water bottle with Rui [Hachimura] on and he cherished that because that was somebody that looked like him. I had Michael Jordan, Lebron James, but he never saw somebody that look like him on that sort of stage.” Older generations of Black and Japanese people shared that they are happy to see that younger generations have access to more information, awareness, and representation thanks to social media and public figures such as Naomi Osaka and Rui Hachimura. This paper combines data from interviews, social and popular media sources and describes the positive individual and societal impact biracial Black and Japanese athletes can have for their community.


Maiko Le Lay
Postdoctoral Fellow, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University, North Carolina, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Biracialism; Black; Japanese; Athlete; Representation; Social Media; Popular Media

Digital Media


Feeling Represented (Embed)


Feeling Represented (pdf)