As a black woman in America, diversity has taken on a new level of importance in my life. Although it’s necessary in my life, it’s important for me to acknowledge that other minorities need diversity and face discrimination as well. This is the same for the Japanese Americans.
In the early 1900s, the Japanese American basketball leagues were formed as a reaction to the discrimination this group faced. Japanese-Americans were often banned from participating in American public life, including playing on teams or even using gyms.
Laura Bonz Otsuki, a Japanese-American, asked the Buddhist Church in San Francisco in 1960 to start a girls’ basketball team. There was a boy’s time of course, but she and her friends wanted to play as well. The team started for girls is now a significant part of JA leagues in San Francisco.
Just like any other minority, the Japanese had to create their own section of the sports world before they were allowed to be a part of the normalized sports world. Women and men alike had to break the stereotype that Japanese people were too short and thin to play sports. Lindsey Yamasaki was the first Japanese-American to enter the WNBA in 2002. She is 6-foot-2 and half-Japanese, half-white. Others before her tried and were counted out. I’m glad the world is allowing more diversity in the sports world, and I’ equally as glad that women get to be a part of that!