U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation Statement on Racial Justice

July 7, 2020 

We Stand for Racial Justice.

Dear Bridging Foundation Community,

Tragic events over the past several weeks bring into sharp focus the undeniable systemic racism and racial injustice that exists in our places of work and study, in our communities and in our country at large. Fundamental economic, social and judicial rights promised to all citizens remain unattainable for so many of our African American citizens. We must stand in solidarity with our Black community and with other Communities of Color. The U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, an organization which seeks to build understanding and friendship among young people from the United States and Japan through educational exchange, strives to champion inclusivity, diversity and equity. We must do our part to contribute to the enactment of real change on issues of racial justice.

In a modest but thoughtful way, the Bridging Foundation has sought to provide the opportunity of study in Japan to a diverse group of American college students— diverse in terms of geography, race and economic status. To that end, we have emphasized the selection of Pell Grant recipients and have taken into account the location and type of the educational institutions attended by candidates for scholarships. Since the inception of the program 20 years ago, we estimate that 40 to 50% of Bridging Foundation scholarship recipients are in Communities of Color, defined to include African American, Hispanic American and Asian American students. Over the 20 year history of the program, 17 students have come from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Let us, however, be clear. We surely can and must do more.

In 1962, James Baldwin wrote that “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” This was part of his call to action to the writers of his generation “to remake America into what we say we want it to be.” In the context of people-to-people exchanges between America and Japan, the Bridging Foundation must do its part in the remaking of race relations and the fight against racism of any kind in the world. We have the opportunity to contribute to this effort by creating more opportunities for African American students to study in Japan and we will pursue this path with vigor and determination.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss these important issues.

Sincerely,

Thierry Porté

Chairman

Board of Directors