June 2020
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear friends,

In the midst of this pandemic, we have witnessed ongoing attacks on the Black community through the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, Manuel Ellis, and so many others. We are outraged and heartbroken. But we are also inspired by the global uprising of people coming together to fight for a world where Black lives are valued and protected. 

We are determined to take bold, long-term action to uproot anti-Blackness and white supremacy from our communities. Nina Wallace, Densho Communications Coordinator, captured this feeling when she wrote, “ Silence is compliance, and we want to be the kind of ancestors who were loud and disobedient and stood on the side of justice.”

Please take a close look at the offerings of this eNews and find something you can do, whether it is watching our new animated short film on the history of xenophobia and racism, joining a Densho Community Hour discussion, reading Nina’s blog post, learning more about how these systems have impacted your own family’s history, or following and supporting Black leaders in the movement for Black lives. If you have the means, please consider a donation to an org like M4BL , Black Alliance for Just Immigration , or the Okra Project .

I also welcome your thoughts and ideas at tom.ikeda@densho.org .

In peace and solidarity,
Announcing a New Densho Educational Resource
As our nation grapples with its legacy of racism and xenophobia, Densho releases the short film, "Other": A Brief History of American Xenophobia . At this moment we are being called to commit anew to the work of addressing systemic violence and we hope this film helps further the difficult, but necessary, dialogues that need to happen in order to bring about real change.

"Other" shows how the darker parts of American history including Indigenous genocide, slavery, Japanese American incarceration, and the ongoing scapegoating of immigrants are interconnected. It challenges viewers to write new narratives as we work together to confront our past and build a more just and equitable future

And stay tuned! In the coming months we'll be announcing more teach-ins and unveiling online curriculum to help educators and community leaders facilitate conversations using this film and oral histories from the Densho archives.

Oral History Spotlight: Maru Mora Villalpando

Maru Mora Villalpando is an undocumented community organizer and co-founder of La Resistencia, a grassroots group fighting to end all detentions and deportations in the state of Washington, in part by supporting those held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.

As we uplift the achievements and ongoing struggles of LGBTQ communities this Pride season, we want to highlight the stories of the queer ancestors within our own Japanese American community. Despite the often deliberate erasure of their contributions to our history, and the underrepresentation of queer and trans voices in archives (including our own), we know that LGBTQ history is Japanese American history. So with that in mind, here are five queer Nikkei ancestors we think everyone should know about.

>> Read more .
Densho in the News: "How Asian Americans Are Reckoning With Anti-Blackness In Their Families"

In the midst of a global uprising to support the Black Lives Matter movement, Asian American activists and social justice organizations are making renewed calls for solidarity and allyship with Black communities. HuffPost spoke to Asian Americans who are initiating these conversations with their family members, and highlighted Densho’s recent statement on how an end to state violence requires that Asian Americans “reckon with our complicity in this tangled web of white supremacy, and our responsibility to dismantle it.”

Densho Blog: Asian American Anti-Blackness Is Real—And So Is Our Responsibility to End It
We’re holding a lot of grief and anger for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and for all the Black lives stolen by white supremacy in recent weeks. But we recognize that grief and anger alone are not enough. This is a moment when we as Nikkei and Asian Americans must recommit to the hard and messy work of uprooting the anti-Blackness from within our communities, and ask ourselves what kind of ancestors we want to be. We don’t have all the answers, and we, like everyone else, are constantly learning and striving to do and be better. But what we do know is this: Silence is compliance, and we want to be the kind of ancestors who were loud and disobedient and stood on the side of justice.

>> Read more .
Densho Blog: Epidemics in American Concentration Camps: From the “White Plague” to COVID-19
Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII faced multiple epidemics and outbreaks within the camps, and in each case the burden to remain healthy and disease free was placed on the detainees themselves. But the true risk factor—their detention in crowded and unsanitary places—was never questioned by medical experts. The lesson we can take away from this history for the global pandemic we face today is this: rather than ask how best to protect incarcerated populations, we should be abolishing incarceration altogether.

>> Read more .
We may not be able to come together in person anytime soon, but you can rest assured that we’re working hard to expand our digital offerings and create virtual gathering spaces to stay connected to you, our Densho community. You can find a list of upcoming and ongoing digital events offered by Densho and other community partners here . We’ll continue to update this calendar as we add new programming, so make sure to check back for the latest offerings!

Densho Community Hour with Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Join us for an informal (and all digital) get-together from the comfort and safety of your own home. Executive Director Tom Ikeda will share some updates on how Densho is rapidly adapting and expanding the tools we offer during this unprecedented time, and we’ll be ready to spend some quality time answering your questions and listening to your thoughts and concerns. Our online platform and digital materials are needed now more than ever to help deepen public understandings of racism and xenophobia—and how to activate our history to combat it. So let’s stay connected and keep building together.