Dwight at the Chinese Museum in Richmond, Virginia

When I was younger and in middle school, I ran across an article by someone with a strange name. The title of the piece was “Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racal Discrimination.” I was curious about such an essay by an odd sounding author. Who was this Mao Zedong and why would he be concerned about black Americans’ affairs? As I began to read, the more my curiosity grew. Several years later, I had been in elementary school sitting in a world history class. Maps were shown of all the world’s countries. Western European nations were beautifully color coded with vibrant hues with rich and inviting nuance. But when the social studies movie portrayed one large section of the globe, this area was colored in blood red, dripping down the screen. Why was this country called China shown as a nation hidden behind blood? In fact, it was this visual contrast between the vibrant colors of the western countries and the death-like, ominous reddening of China that I, as a 9 year, had made the decision that I would one day visit China. Also, my best female friend from the 6th to the 12th grade was of black and East Asian mixtures. So on many levels, I’ve been curious and open to the learnings from Japan, China, and Korea since I was a little boy. But since that time, most people didn’t understand why an African American had set a course to eventually visit and hopefully work in East Asia. In their imagination, they saw “an African connection”, but Asia? So for a long time, I kept my motivation and my plans to myself.

I’m currently a professor teaching courses on global comparative cultures and social entrepreneurship. Since 2016, I’ve been making the transition to investment funds. In 2007, I lived in Hong Kong during the summer and then immediately went to China – 2 weeks each in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai. I’ve experienced several months each in Beijing and Dalian teaching. Also, I spent a year teaching in Seoul and I’ve visited Japan three times. The most recent was August 2019 with my high school friend who has a cross-border corporate law firm in Tokyo. As a result of staying with hisfamily, he has asked me to find investment funds for institutional Japanese investors. Finally, my dream, plans, and business opportunities are coming together.

But throughout my visits in East Asia, I was always the only black American in meetings, conferences, and at official events. I kept wondering: “Aren’t there African Americans living in or, at least, interested in East Asia? Where are they and how can I connect?” Enter NABEA! You can imagine how pleasantly surprised and thankful I was/am to discover NABEA. It has been a breath of fresh air to phone chat with several members and discover that common experience of being black in East Asia. I look forward to network discussions, announcements, and collaboration. Some members have already shared their advice about what living in Japan is like and also how to find investment possibilities for Japanese investors. As I travel the path of investment funds (and also enjoying the rich cultures of Japan and East Asia), I hope to journey with everyone and hope to help as much as possible!!


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Why I Joined NABEA – Dwight N. Hopkins
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