July 2020
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear friends,

I believe 2020 will go down as a turning point in history — a moment when we were forced to pause in response to the global pandemic, and then challenged to radically reimagine the systems of violence that have structured our world for far too long. 

But even in the midst of all this turmoil, something feels different. Lasting change seems closer than ever, and Densho is determined to help build a future grounded in equity and racial justice. We are continuing to expand our archives and digital resources, and meeting a growing demand for anti-racist teach-ins, history workshops, and community forums. We are activating our history and fostering a deeper understanding of the impacts of racism and xenophobia through education about the WWII Japanese American incarceration. 

If you are able, please consider making a contribution to Densho during this transformational historic moment. Densho’s digital “museum without walls” model is in high demand, and we need to not only sustain our current staff, but also add new positions in order to respond to these unprecedented challenges. Your support makes this possible.

In peace and solidarity,
Summer Appeal 2020 Premium Gifts
Make a donation of $125 or more by August 31st and we’ll send you one of two exciting thank-you gifts: a new biography of Japanese American sculptor Ruth Asawa that includes over 60 reproductions of Asawa’s art and archival photos, or a custom enamel pin designed by artist Kiku Hughes in honor of Japanese Americans incarcerated at Amache/Granada concentration camp. Donate $250 or more and we’ll send you both!

Save the Date: October 24, 2020

The Densho Dinner is going virtual this year! We'll miss seeing our community in person, we're excited that our virtual event will allow us to welcome friends and supporters from far beyond Seattle. We have a truly amazing line-up in the works we'll be announcing program details and opening registration soon.

2019 Annual Report

For more than two decades, Densho has worked to hold our community’s history with care and trust, amplify unheard voices and untold stories, and connect past and present to keep the Japanese American story alive. Thank you for empowering these efforts through your financial support.

Oral History Spotlight: Lawson Sakai

Lawson Iichiro Sakai was a decorated member of the 442nd and a longtime advocate for telling the stories of Nisei veterans without shying away from hard truths. We’re deeply saddened to learn that he passed away last month—and grateful that we had the honor of interviewing Mr. Sakai in 2019, so that we can continue to share his life story with future generations. In this clip, he remembers a time when his family tried to visit friends at Manzanar.

Blog Highlights: Japanese Americans for Black Lives
As we continue to engage in much-needed conversations around anti-Blackness and systemic racism, we hope to create space for different perspectives on how we can work together to address these historic and present-day harms. In these recent guest posts for the Densho Blog, two writers share their views on how and why Japanese Americans can be in solidarity with Black lives.
Sara Onitsuka: Why Japanese Americans Should Join the Fight for Abolition

Recent protests over the murder of George Floyd—and the 400+ years of white supremacist and anti-Black violence that preceded it—have brought calls for abolition to the forefront of national dialogues around justice and equity. In this guest op-ed for the Densho Blog, writer and organizer Sara Onitsuka breaks down what abolitionists mean when they call for the abolition of prisons and policing, and why Japanese Americans have a stake in this fight.

Duncan Ryūken Williams: The Karma of Becoming American

 In this guest post, scholar and Soto Zen Buddhist priest Duncan Ryūken Williams reflects on celebrating his first 4th of July as an American citizen in the midst of a global pandemic and uprisings against anti-Black police brutality. He illustrates how the concept of interconnectedness can illuminate our understandings of history and various forms of oppression, but also guide our collective work towards liberation.

>> Read more .
The Tadaima! Community Virtual Pilgrimage is still going strong! Be sure to check out their weekly line-up of events, including film screenings, book clubs, a weekly Nikkei Block Party, and so much more. And scroll down to see some recent and upcoming Densho contributions:
Japanese American Incarceration on Indigenous Lands

Densho co-presented a panel featuring Indigenous scholars, public historians, and community leaders who discussed the intersections of Native and Japanese American history during WWII. This powerful discussion made it clear that there is so much more of this history to explore, and we hope to continue doing that work.

Brian Niiya and Sharon Yamato: Understanding Tule Lake

Filmmaker Sharon Yamato and Densho Content Director Brian Niiya give an overview of the complicated history of Tule Lake, and explore how Tule Lake has evolved over time from a place stigmatized by the larger Japanese American community to one that is recognized today for its role in resistance to the WWII incarceration.

Sunday Supper with Danielle Higa and Family!

Densho Fund Development Manager Danielle Higa will be hosting the Tadaima! Sunday Supper on August 2nd at 7pm PT. Join Danielle—along with her sister Alex and dad Warren—for a fun, intergenerational cooking lesson as they share their family recipe for sweet & sour spareribs “pakui.”

>> Watch the Tadaima! site or the Densho Facebook page for details.
This summer Densho continues to offer virtual programming including genealogy workshops, community hour discussions, and we've scheduled new dates for our xenophobia teach-in!

Densho is Hiring!
Densho seeks a Marketing Manager to optimize the reach of our archival materials, educational offerings, events, fundraising, and other assets. The Marketing Manager will be an integral part of our communications team, and will also work closely with our fund development, IT, and archives departments. Apply by July 31st!

>> Learn more .