January 2017
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda

Dear Friends,

The beginning of 2017 has been rocky for me. I am still recovering from the flu after spending several days in bed. When I was in bed, I spent way too much time scanning newsfeeds and tweets about what is happening in DC and shaking my head in disbelief and frustration. I also was deeply troubled when I read that for the third year in a row our planet had record high temperatures and that furthermore, the eight richest people in the world have more wealth than half of the world’s population. (Last year, it took the 62 richest people to equal the wealth of the poorer half.) The environment is worsening, inequality is increasing, and the incoming administration’s policies will probably accelerate these trends. 

We each have to decide what we are going to do when confronted with this information. Yes, we should all lower our carbon footprint as much and as quickly as we can. And we need to address inequality from a place of compassion, generosity, and urgency. In the coming weeks I will spend time reaching out to hear the concerns facing communities that are being marginalized and to be more active in helping these communities address their concerns. I will also work to lower my carbon consumption by driving less, being more energy conscious, and consuming less. 

Now is not the time to sit back and watch others try to address these issues. If, like me, you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the work there is to do, try this: pick one cause, organization, or movement to support in 2017. Put your energy and resources — even if they are limited  toward that one cause.

Please think about how you will get more involved and let me know what you plan to do at tom.ikeda@densho.org. I also invite you to kick off this year of civic engagement by attending a dialogue with the American Muslim community in honor of next month's Day of Remembrance — details are below. 


Tom Ikeda

To mark the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, Densho director Tom Ikeda and Arsalan Bukhari, director of the Washington chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will discuss the correlation between the Japanese American past and the treatment of law-abiding American Muslim children and families today. The presenters will also talk about what Seattleites can do to prevent harassment and discrimination of American Muslims in their community. 

Winter Appeal: THANK YOU!

We want to extend a sincere thank you to all who have contributed to our Winter Appeal. If you've not yet received them, your gifts and thank you notes will be en route shortly. And it's not too late to donate now  make a contribution by January 31st to receive custom-made commemorative stamps and our premium gifts! 

>> Learn about premium gifts and make a donation

Blog Highlight: "Democracy is for the Unafraid"

On the eve of the 2017 inauguration, this 1944 essay by Chester Himes still resonates today: 

"Fear may easily become the greatest tragedy of this historic period. For the eventual peace of the world and the continuation of progress depend upon the white man’s ability to live in equality, integrity, and courage in a civilization where he is outnumbered by peoples of other races. It is imperative that he be unafraid. For if, because of his fear, he finds himself unable to live as a neighbor and equal competitor with other races, there will be no peace and little progress."

>> Read more. 

Densho in the News: "We Need to Talk about the Katy Perry PSA"

Densho's Nina Wallace published a smart response to the new Katy Perry-produced PSA in the Huffington Post

“Don’t let history repeat itself,” implores a widely-shared and well-received PSA published by pop star Katy Perry last week. The film short, intended to raise awareness about the dangers of Islamophobia, opens with 89 year old Haru Kuromiya and her memories of being herded into a concentration camp during WWII–except that it doesn’t. Haru, as we learn halfway through the video, is in fact Pakistani actress Hina Khan. 

I have a lot of questions about this video, but let’s start with the most obvious one. How, in 2017 (I know we’re only two weeks in, but still) did “fake Asian face” win out as the best and most effective way to deliver this message? It’s distracting at the very least and—yes, I’ll say it—yellowface at its worst.

>> Read more. 

Oral History Spotlight

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mako Nakagawa's father was arrested by the FBI and taken to internment camps administered by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Army. In this clip, Mako, who was a young child at the time, describes how her mother had to take care of everything as the family prepared for camp.

>> Watch interview clip

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