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Bonnie Pointer, founding member of The Pointer Sisters, dead at 69

She was 69.”Our family is devastated, on behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time,” Anita Pointer said in a statement to CNN “Bonnie was my best friend and we talked every day,” she continued. “We never had a fight in our life. I…

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She was 69.”Our family is devastated, on behalf of my siblings and I and the entire Pointer family, we ask for your prayers at this time,” Anita Pointer said in a statement to CNN “Bonnie was my best friend and we talked every day,” she continued. “We never had a fight in our life. I already miss her and I will see her again one day.”Bonnie Pointer died of cardiac arrest, according to her publicist, Roger Neal. The four Pointer Sisters began singing together more than 50 years ago in their hometown church in Oakland, California, where their father ministered. Bonnie Pointer and her youngest sister, June, started singing together professionally in 1969. They later recruited older sisters Anita and Ruth to join them, before debuting their first album together in 1973.The group won their first Grammy Award for their crossover hit, “Fairytale,” in 1974. Bonnie Pointer recorded five albums with her sisters before pursuing a solo career. She signed with Motown and scored her biggest solo hit with the 1978 disco track, “Heaven Must Have Sent You.” Pointer released three albums with Motown before stepping back a bit from the spotlight, though she still performed periodically over the years.In her statement, Anita Pointer credited Bonnie for the success of their musical family.”The Pointer Sisters never would have happened had it not been for Bonnie,” she said.

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Here’s the state of the longest awards race ever

It’s a longer Oscar season than ever, but with the fall festival circuit winding down and prizes being bestowed, we’re still off to the races. EW’s awards experts David Canfield and Joey Nolfi discuss the major contenders to emerge out of TIFF and Venice, the contenders we’ve yet to see, and just what to expect…

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It’s a longer Oscar season than ever, but with the fall festival circuit winding down and prizes being bestowed, we’re still off to the races. EW’s awards experts David Canfield and Joey Nolfi discuss the major contenders to emerge out of TIFF and Venice, the contenders we’ve yet to see, and just what to expect going forward.

WE’RE AT THE MIDPOINT

DAVID CANFIELD: Joey! Only seven months until the Oscars, which means it’s the start of the longest awards season ever. Typically, when the fall festivals like Toronto, Venice, and Telluride wrap up, we’ve got a pretty solid idea of how the big races are looking. Not so in 2020, with only a few major contenders premiering across them (in the case of Telluride, only one, with the event canceled except for a drive-in event for Nomadland). Still, there’s lots to talk about, lots to anticipate, and lots of questions. What’s your headline out of this very strange festival circuit?

JOEY NOLFI: The only acceptable headline is: “Stan Penguin Bloom.” Yes, we have seven months until the Oscars, but I just see that as seven 30-day opportunities to launch Penguin Bloom into social consciousness. It will be the awards season hill I die on this year. I won’t rest until Naomi Watts has her Oscar for the film I’ve affectionately dubbed “Naomi Watts Bird Movie,” and neither should you.

DAVID: Well, we know Naomi committed to the part. But I have bad news, Joey: Best Actress is packed this year already, and Penguin Bloom hasn’t even been picked up for distribution yet. Her chances, at least for the 2021 cycle, appear to be slipping away…

JOEY: I think the two big takeaways from the fall festival “circuit” this year are: The festivals sort of mean less this year than they have in years past (the extra padding at the top of 2021 will be where we get the bulk of our contenders), which means things like the TIFF People’s Choice Award (yaaas, Nomadland!) carry much less weight in 2020. But the second takeaway is: The current season is all about the women, and I don’t see that changing. This is the first time TIFF’s top three prize winners are from female directors — Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, Regina King’s One Night in Miami, and Tracey Deer’s Beans — but Zhao has perhaps the most massive contender on her hands, and Frances McDormand gives one of the best performances of her career in the film. She blended in with this production so seamlessly to the tapestry of working-class America that she was offered a job at Target; that deserves an Oscar in itself. Does Nomadland strike you as, at this current moment, the Best Picture frontrunner?

DAVID: It feels like we’re at sort of a midpoint, doesn’t it? This moment reminds me a lot of where the race normally stands after Cannes, where a select few major contenders emerge, while so many more remain yet to be seen — and there’s just so much more time for anything to happen. Of course, last year a critical darling and audience favorite won Cannes, only to maintain that momentum all the way to the Oscars: Parasite. And I think Nomadland is a similarly major contender. It’s too early to say whether it will go the distance because there’s a lot we haven’t seen. But of what we have seen, it is our frontrunner. It’s brilliant, beautiful, and plays both to arthouse and more mainstream crowds, and it has the kind of Americana scope that voters gravitate toward. Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand feel like shoo-ins for nominations at the very least.

And yes, this was very much a female-dominated TIFF, both behind and in front of the camera. Beyond McDormand, Kate Winslet and Vanessa Kirby emerged as major Best Actress contenders (sorry, Naomi!). Beyond Zhao, Regina King emerged as a serious force in directing for One Night in Miami, which to me feels like the only other significant across-the-board awards contender to come out of this period. (Both Kirby’s Pieces of a Woman and Winslet’s Ammonite feel too austere to get much beyond their actors.) Would you agree? Is it possible we’ll have two women nominated for Best Director — and women of color, at that — for the first time ever?

JOEY: The Cannes comparison is a great one. But, more recently, Cannes momentum hasn’t wanted for steadfast contenders (Parasite, BlacKkKlansman, Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, etc.), so I expect Nomadland and One Night in Miami to stick around. It will be interesting to see how far ahead some of these early contenders can get — perhaps enough that other contenders might sit this year out, let one film steamroll, and wait until there’s a much more stable release window next season. Both women have a significant hurdle to overcome, though: The directors’ society in Hollywood is still primarily an old boys’ club, and they’re especially unreceptive to women making the transition from acting to directing, regardless of how good their work is. So, we’ll see.

THE ACTING RACES

JOEY: As for Best Actress, I’m completely sold on Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan dropping anchor on the race right now. Ammonite is the perfect blend of the kind of prestige period drama the classic Academy member (trust me, there are still plenty of them left among the voting ranks) loves and the progressive storytelling that will hook the younger crowd, and Kate and Saoirse are great torchbearers for those respective demographics. I need more convincing on Kirby, though. She’s fabulous, but the film itself is too muddled and I’m not sure she has the name recognition to break out in a crowded field. I’d actually feel safer betting on Ellen Burstyn becoming a dark horse of the race for her work in this film, to be honest. Wouldn’t that be divine?

DAVID: Yes, I agree — we should mention Netflix acquired both Pieces of a Woman and Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised, out of TIFF (the latter premiered as a work-in-progress cut, with reviews/reactions still on hold), but neither are confirmed for this awards cycle as of yet. Pieces of a Woman, which I expect to compete for 2020-2021, is a tough, demanding, rather uneven movie, and it bears mentioning that Kirby — who’s fantastic in it — has a lot of other competition that’s not TIFF-adjacent. Expect Oscar winners Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Jennifer Hudson (Respect) to really rock this category by taking on a pair of musical legends; Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) and Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy) will get a run too. So I’m right there with you. Burstyn gets a phenomenal scene near Pieces’ end, and if Netflix pushes accordingly, she should be a good bet.

JOEY: How are the male acting categories coming along? Anthony Hopkins is to die for in The Father. Truly some of the best screen acting I’ve seen in years.

DAVID: Best Actor is weird! Really no development out of the festivals beyond the continued run of The Father, which is a lovely movie on its own — I could see it developing into an across-the-board sleeper, especially with a sharp Olivia Colman performance in support — and just a tremendous showcase for Hopkins. He’s probably the only Best Actor lock we’ve got, and the frontrunner to win at this stage. I love Delroy Lindo’s work in Da 5 Bloods so much, but he’ll have to hang on for nearly a year to get into that top five. Gary Oldman (Mank), Tom Hanks (News of the World), and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) will certainly get a close look when (if?) their movies drop. Then the big question mark: the late, great Chadwick Boseman. His role opposite Davis in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on August Wilson’s play, straddles lead and supporting, and it’s a really rich part. He’s absolutely a factor here.

A lot of these I just mentioned in the wait-and-see category are Netflix movies, which skipped festivals altogether. Says a lot about where we are in terms of the race. I haven’t even yet mentioned their other potentially significant contenders, like the incoming The Trial of the Chicago 7 or George Clooney’s latest, The Midnight Sky. I’m also hearing good rumblings about The White Tiger, from Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes). The streamer’s slate is huge and mysterious. With theaters such a question mark still, and so many releases indefinitely pushed/undated, do they have the potential to just overpower everyone this year?

JOEY: I don’t think Netflix’s awards might should be considered any more powerful than it has been before. It’s not like non-Netflix studios are halting releases altogether, they’re just adapting. This isn’t 1994. Box office means less and less to a film’s awards prospects. Now they just have to meet their theatrical qualifications (which they’ll likely be able to do by the end of the year/early 2021), and then the rest is in the hands of the blessed screeners. That’s who I have my eye on this year: who, in the past, has been the best at generating digital buzz, efficient at sending out ample screeners, and ensuring that voters have easy access to their films outside of screenings open to the moviegoing public. Not to discredit the work of their fabulous team, but Netflix also has the advantage of releasing buzzy titles that will do a lot of that work for them (Ma Rainey, Chicago).

The one yet-to-be-seen performance I think we can agree is one of the most anticipated of the year is Glenn Close’s impending iconic performance as an Appalachian grandmother opposite Adams in Hillbilly Elegy. Despite not showing on the fall circuit, could this be Glegend Close’s year?

DAVID: All signs point to yes. The source material alone (a memoir) indicates this is the kind of totally transformative, scene-stealing role that tends to win out in supporting categories. Plus, her heartbreaking loss just last year for The Wife — I know you’re still not over it! — is still fresh in the industry’s minds, and that should work in her favor. But this is another title Netflix is keeping close, with a release date not even out there yet, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. But I haven’t seen anything that would make a clearer winner in that category.

We’ve done a lot of shamelessly vague speculating on the many months to come — and we didn’t even get into Best Supporting Actor, where this could maybe actually be Bill Murray’s year?!

JOEY: Yes re: Bill. He is fantastic in On the Rocks, and I don’t think Apple and A24 are playing around with what could be their first legit Oscar push under their new streaming platform. Screenplay and Supporting Actor nods aren’t out of the question for this film, and, going back to what I said about studios that know how to create digital buzz and get movies in front of the right people in an efficient manner, A24 and Apple could be an unbeatable pair if they focus on one huge contender (Murray) throughout the season.

First-Half Treasures

DAVID: Let’s look backward for a moment to wrap this one up. Other than Hopkins, what first-half, pre-TIFF contenders are you looking at that could survive this drawn-out campaign? Back at Sundance — truly, a different world — I along with most everyone in Park City was wowed by Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Minari. They could either go the way of — to name two recent Sundance breakouts — The Farewell, an almost-ran, or Call Me by Your Name, a Best Picture nominee with several other nods to boot. For the latter, I could see Steven Yeun getting a Supporting Actor campaign.

JOEY: I still haven’t caught Minari, so I can’t speak on the strength of Steven Yeun’s performance, but he was sublime in Burning, so I’m giddy with anticipation. As for Never Rarely Sometimes Always… where has the buzz gone? It’s a solid film, but I think the Sundance films you mentioned from the past — The Farewell, Call Me by Your Name — had a much firmer grasp on the industry’s attention at this point in their respective contests, and I just don’t feel the weight of that film anymore.

DAVID: Yeah, this year especially, a March release hurts Never Rarely. But Minari I have high hopes for: It’s a tender, gorgeous, timeless family tale that resonates, and A24 hasn’t released it just yet; they know they have something special.

JOEY: Though I also feel that enthusiasm for it has gone a bit mute since its release, I could see The King of Staten Island hitting with Academy bros (call me), but the clear-cut early-year standout for me is the Emerald Fennell-directed Carey Mulligan vehicle Promising Young Woman, also awaiting release. I’m not 100 percent convinced it’s Academy fare, as it is a super-prickly re-imagining of the rape-revenge genre, but I can’t imagine anyone not being utterly moved — in multiple capacities — by this film’s energy. It’s interesting to be over the wave of first-reaction #MeToo-era films, and Woman pushes its tone to very unexpected places, given the subject matter. In the context of the moment, it feels like fireworks after a funeral, if you will, and Carey gives a career performance. There’s no excuse for her being left out of any awards conversation this year.

DAVID: I have a feeling we’ll be talking about Mulligan for the many, many months to come. Naomi Watts, I’m not so sure.

JOEY: Remember: Stan Penguin Bloom.

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Jason Priestley Says Shannen Doherty Is a ‘Fighter’ Amid Cancer Battle

Forever friendship. Jason Priestley gave a health update on longtime pal and former costar Shannen Doherty amid her battle with stage IV breast cancer. “Last time I heard from her, she was in pretty good spirits,” Priestley, 51, said on the Tuesday, September 22, episode of Australia’s Studio 10. The actors, who have been friends…

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Forever friendship. Jason Priestley gave a health update on longtime pal and former costar Shannen Doherty amid her battle with stage IV breast cancer.

“Last time I heard from her, she was in pretty good spirits,” Priestley, 51, said on the Tuesday, September 22, episode of Australia’s Studio 10.
The actors, who have been friends for more than 30 years, having played twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hills, 90210, which ran from 1990 to 2000, still keep in touch.
Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty. Shutterstock; Jim Smeal/Shutterstock“I reach out to Shannen every few months, just to check in on her and say hi,” the Private Eyes star explained.
Priestley, who reconnected with Doherty, 49, onscreen for BH90210 in 2019, revealed that the actress is strong.
“Shannen’s a real tough girl,” he said. “Shannen’s a fighter and she’s always been a fighter. And I know that she will continue to fight as hard as she can.”

The Charmed alum revealed in February that her breast cancer had returned after previously entering remission in 2017, following a two-year battle with the illness.
“I don’t think I’ve processed it,” Doherty told Amy Robach on Good Morning America after announcing her stage IV diagnosis. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.”
The Our House alum initially kept her illness under wraps, especially while filming BH90210, but later revealed that her costar Brian Austin Green “was the one person who I told, like, pretty quickly.”

As a result, he helped her get through the long days of filming, which she chose to do in order to give others with her terminal diagnosis hope.
“One of the reasons, along with Luke [Perry’s March 2019 death], that I did 90210 and didn’t really tell anybody [was] because I thought, ‘People can look at that [and see] other people with stage IV can work too,’” she said during the February GMA interview. “Like, you know, our life doesn’t end.”
The same month, Green, 47, exclusively told Us Weekly about Doherty’s health journey and his support of his former costar through it all.

“I mean, you know, cancer is not f–king easy for anyone. And I love Shannen, and we’ve always had a great relationship, and she’s strong,” the Anger Management alum told Us. “She’ll get through this and get out of this what she’s supposed to get out of this. Adversity only makes us stronger, if we let it, and it does with her, for sure.”
He added: “She’s a really f–king good person. She’s a really good person, and so she deserves all the well-wishers and all the friendships that she has.”
Doherty, who married Kurt Iswarienko in 2011, was previously diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015.
Listen to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!

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Japan’s hafu stars are celebrated. But some mixed-race people say they feel like foreigners in their own country

Anna, a woman of mixed Japanese and American heritage, was in a taxi en route to a party in Tokyo last year when she was asked that question, and says she had half expected it.Anna, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, has a Japanese mother and a White American father, and spent her childhood in…

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Anna, a woman of mixed Japanese and American heritage, was in a taxi en route to a party in Tokyo last year when she was asked that question, and says she had half expected it.Anna, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, has a Japanese mother and a White American father, and spent her childhood in Japan, before moving to the US in her teens.”I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent telling my life story to strangers who want to fulfill their curiosity,” says Anna. “It was getting to a point where I thought, Why do I need to share my biological background with someone I’m never going to meet again?” Official figures paint Japan as an ethnically homogenous nation — according to the 2018 census, 98% of the population is considered Japanese. People who look different, therefore, attract more attention than they would in a more ethnically diverse country such as the US. In some cases, that’s not a bad thing.Many mixed heritage entertainers and sports stars are hugely popular in Japan. Well-known figures such as Vogue model Rina Fukushi and tennis star Naomi Osaka have given mixed heritage people more prominence in the public sphere in Japan, and globally. For others, however, the apparent fascination with their heritage brings unwanted attention and can invite casual racism. Some who consider themselves Japanese say it leaves them feeling othered in their own country. Mixed heritageMixed-race identity has a complex history in Japan. Between 1639 and 1853, Japan closed its borders to foreign influence — with the exception of Chinese and Dutch traders who came to the port cities of Yokohama and Nagasaki.In those hubs, the derogatory term “ainoko” — or “hybrid” in English — was used to describe children born of a Japanese and foreign parent, according to Hyoue Okamura, a Japan-based independent scholar.As Japan opened up and modernized during the Meiji era (1868 to 1912), it started cultivating its own brand of nationalism, promoting the country’s racial homogeneity and superiority over other Asian nations. With the concept of Japanese supremacy came new terms to describe people of mixed race. In the 1930s, the term “konketsuji” — or “mixed-blood child” — described the children of Japanese nationals who married locals in countries like China, Taiwan and Korea that Japan colonized. Those children faced discrimination as the government considered people from Japan’s colonies as inferior to the Japanese. Following Japan’s defeat in WWII and during the American occupation (1945 to 1952), the term konketsuji applied to the children of American military personnel and Japanese women, and was considered a derogatory term. Politicians associated those children with Japan’s defeat and painted them as a problem for society. “Back then, there was a lot of debate over whether to assimilate or keep apart these children when they entered elementary school,” says Lawrence Yoshitaka Shimoji, a sociologist at Ritsumeikan University in Japan. A changing worldAs Japan absorbed Western influences in the post-World War II years, perceptions changed. European languages were seen as chic and exotic and Japan’s fascination with Western movie stars grew. Spying an opportunity, Japanese management companies started to promote local actors, dancers and singers of mixed heritage, says Okamura, the independent scholar. By then, the derogatory term of konketsuji had given way to “hafu,” a corruption of the word “half-caste”. In 1973, its use was formalized in the 1973 edition of a dictionary called Kanazawa Shōzaburō’s Kōjirin or “Wide Forest of Words,” where it was listed as a synonym of konketsuji.However, “hafu” didn’t come with the same negative connotations as konketsuji. It was even used as a selling point to promote the girlband “Golden Hafu.” The mixed-heritage quintet performed covers of Western pop songs such as 1962 US pop song “The Loco-motion,” more famously covered by Kylie Minogue, and “Come, come to Hawaii!!! in Japanese.The makeup and fashion industries picked up the trend, coining the term “hafu-gao” or “half-face” to represent an aspirational look that appeared half foreign. That look valued Japanese people with longer legs and defined facial features, including bigger eyes and taller noses, that gave them the impression of being non-Japanese, says Okamura. Rather than unite the population, the buzz around “hafu” created an “us and them” mentality, says Okamura. Mixed heritage people who look more foreign than Japanese may be treated as foreigners, he added, even if they are Japanese nationals.That’s not always welcome.Immigration The fascination with mixed heritage Japanese people can also be traced to the country’s lack of immigration.Last year, the country registered a record 2.93 million people as residents, according to Japan’s Immigration Services Agency. That’s still only around 2.3% of a population of 126 million — much smaller than the 9% of foreign citizens residing in the United Kingdom and the 13.7% of US citizens who were born elsewhere. In 2018, Japanese lawmakers approved a policy change proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to create new visa categories to allow an estimated 340,000 foreign workers to take both high-skilled and low-wage jobs in Japan over five years. It represented a major shift in Japan’s approach to immigration. However, the change didn’t go far enough, according to Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert from Temple University. He said the roles would be filled by migrant laborers who would be expected to leave Japan one day.Despite the barriers, Japan’s demographics are slowly changing. In 2019, one in 30 babies born in Japan had a non-Japanese parent compared to 1 out of 50 babies three decades ago, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. While ethnic Ryukyuans, Japanese-Koreans, Japanese-Chinese and Japanese-Brazilians, among other mixed heritage people, are part of society often that diversity isn’t reflected in the population figures. Countries like America and Britain ask people to identify their ethnicity in surveys, but in Japan race, ethnicity, language, culture, class, and citizenship are conflated often leaving only options to identify either as “Japanese” or a “foreigner,” according to a 2013 report published in Sociology Compass. In 2019, the Japanese government changed the law to consider the Indigenous Ainu people as a minority. But there is no box to tick on census forms for people of mixed heritage, says Shimoji, from Ritsumeikan University. Japanese census forms do not, he says, ask respondents for their ethnic and racial backgrounds nor for the nationalities of their parents not registered in a family unit.Japan’s constitution stipulates that all citizens are equal under the law and granted fundamental human rights. At schools, teachers educate children on these topics, but the ideas have not properly taken root in the country, says Okamura, the independent scholar. For instance, sometimes Japanese-Chinese or Japanese-Koreans, who are referred to as “invisible hafu” can face discrimination when they own up to their non-Japanese ethnic background, says Shimoji.And others who have darker skin can receive unwanted attention. Measuring equalityDavid Yano, a half-Japanese and half-Ghanaian man, has lived in Japan for over 20 years. He has appeared on television shows to talk about his experiences growing up in the country. It hasn’t always been easy. Yano says he was bullied for looking different at school. When he started appearing as a cultural commentator on TV, his agents recommended he play into the stereotypes of Black people as being funny and try to make it as a comedian. Yano says he’s been stopped by police in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward and has faced discrimination when trying to rent a home. He says estate agents have told him that landlords have rejected his tenancy applications based on his skin color. “They don’t take time to find out about my background. Instead, they worry about what other tenants will think,” says Yano. There are no surveys examining the number of mixed heritage Japanese citizens who have been refused housing. But there is one relating to foreigners. In 2017, a government survey of 2,044 people found 39% had been denied housing because they were foreign.”Japanese (mixed heritage) people are experiencing racism, but as they are Japanese, they aren’t included in surveys that would highlight that issue,” says Shimoji, the sociologist.Yano is now the founder of Enijie, a nonprofit that promotes education and ties between Ghana and Japan. He thinks Japan is slowly changing as more people become open to questioning their biases and assumptions about what it means to be Japanese. He’s one of a number of people who are trying to expand mindsets in Japan.In 2018, Shimoji co-founded the information site “HafuTalk,” where parents, mixed heritage people and teachers can discuss diversity, inclusion and identity issues. Subjects of discussion include tackling stereotypes of hafu where they are presumed to be everything from bilingual to “disappointing,” if they are unattractive, not bilingual and from a non-White parent. Last year, Anna made small “meeting cards” to give to nosy Japanese strangers. That card includes information on everything from which one of her parents is Japanese and American to whether her eyelashes are real or fake. It also states that it’s rude to ask someone you’ve just met personal questions about their race and appearance. So far, Anna has handed out around 15 cards. A man in his sixties assumed Anna was a foreigner and commented on her decision to buy a typical Japanese dish topped with grated yams at a convenience store. He angrily threw the card back at her when she gave it to him. Another woman said she thought Anna would take her comments on her looks as a compliment. She asked if she could keep the card to show her husband.This June, Anna tweeted a photo of that card as many Japanese social media users voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. It quickly gained traction with over 124,000 likes and 33,400 retweets.One Twitter user said he wasn’t of mixed heritage but that the card was useful for people today. “I’d like to tell those complaining about this card to take a class in cultural anthropology. Lol,” he added. Others were less convinced, tweeting that whoever received the card would feel uncomfortable. Labels asideSometimes Anna is referred to not as “hafu” but as “daburu.” That term — meaning “double” — was coined in the 1990s after the mother of a mixed heritage child wrote to a Japanese newspaper to promote the positive connotations of a word implying two roots. “Around my group of friends daburu is not that popular. We’re not upset we’re hafu; we’re upset that people think we’re different,” says Anna. “I prefer the term “mikusu” (mixed) because it involves more people, but I’d just prefer not to be called anything.”Labels aside, she says Japan isn’t keeping up-to-date with the debates on racial equality happening elsewhere.For instance, in 2018, Naomi Osaka’s victory in the 2018 US Open tennis tournament triggered an intense discussion on what it means to be Japanese on social media, with users praising Osaka for her Japanese win. Osaka’s heritage spans Japan, Haiti and the US.Some were quick to point out the double standards.”I’m sorry, but people who say Naomi Osaka is Japanese or call her Japan’s pride make me sick. You can’t just embrace ‘hafu’ (biracial people) as Japanese when it suits you. You usually discriminate against us,” tweeted @phie_hardison. Two years on, the gaffes around race and identity re-emerged when Japan’s public broadcaster NHK took down a controversial Black Lives Matter anime after social media users lambasted it for being out-of-touch and racist. The clip — which perpetuated stereotypes and made no mention of George Floyd — prompted a swift apology from NHK and a promise to retrain staff. After Anna’s meeting card went viral on Twitter, she received messages from mixed heritage Japanese children who asked her for advice on how to deal with bullies at school. She felt like the conversation hadn’t moved on since she was in third grade and being bullied for looking different. To shift mindsets, Anna wants influential hafu people in the public eye to talk about the negative discrimination they experienced before fame. Politicians, popular CEOs and entertainers who endorse multiculturalism need to tell people that casual racism is hurtful and offensive, she says. As for her meeting card, Anna thinks the attention it sparked is positive.”The fact that people talked about this card is a small but big change. In that sense, I feel there has been change and there is room for change in the next coming years,” says Anna. “But unless something dramatic happens, it won’t be enough.”CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report from Tokyo.

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