March 2021
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear friends,

I am sitting with a lot of grief and anger over the recent violence against Asian Americans, and especially the murder of eight people — six of them Asian women — in Atlanta this week. I am struggling to find words to name what many of us are feeling in this moment but I do know that there is legitimate fear for the safety of our community, anger that this clearly racialized violence is only now receiving wider public attention, and exhaustion from the knowledge that this is nothing new and the hypervigilance that knowledge requires of us.

It would be easy to let this push us apart. Already, I see attempts to drive a wedge between Asian Americans and Black and brown communities who are also targets of racialized violence, to issue calls for increased policing that would only bring more harm. But if there is one thing I’ve learned from our history, it’s that, in the words of Grace Lee Boggs, “the only way to survive is by taking care of one another, by recreating our relationships to one another.”

It is my hope that as we process our fear and anger, we can also learn from the coalitions that came together in previous generations — to overturn alien land laws and restrictive covenants, to achieve redress for WWII incarceration, to demand justice for Vincent Chin and other victims of white supremacist violence — and continue moving in solidarity to keep our communities safe today.

With love and solidarity,

Tom

Moms Behind Barbed Wire event on 3/19

Join the Northwest Nikkei Museum for an online event, Moms Behind Barbed Wire: How Japanese American Mothers Coped with WWII Incarceration. The forced removal and incarceration during WWII was devastating for all Japanese Americans, regardless of age, gender, or family status — but Japanese American mothers faced unique challenges that compounded many of those hardships. These women navigated difficult choices with limited resources and, in spite of it all, found ways to transcend the harsh conditions that threatened to tear their families apart. Join Densho Communications Coordinator Nina Nobuko Wallace for an in-depth look at Japanese American mothers’ experiences in WWII incarceration camps. Join us on Friday, March 19th starting at 7PM (PDT) via Zoom.
Nisei Radicals Book Launch on 3/25

In her new book, Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake, Diane Fujino reveals a radical lineage of Japanese American activism through the lives of feminist poet, Mitsuye Yamada and her brother, Michael Yasutake. 

In honor of women’s history month, we welcome Diane Fujino on Thursday, March 25th to discuss her book and the role that Mitsuye Yamada’s political activism played in building the Asian American and US Third World women’s movements and support for political prisoners. After presenting her book, Fujino will be joined by Yamada for a discussion about the ways her poetry intertwines with her personal life, while also illuminating Japanese American women’s lives, and about the importance of speaking out against racism. 

Presented by Densho with Elliott Bay Book Company, University of Washington Press. Funding for this event was provided, in part, by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
Oral History Spotlight: Memories of working with Minoru Yasui after the war

June Yasuno Aochi (Yamashiro) Berk was incarcerated at Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas and resettled with her family in Denver after WWII, before eventually returning to California. In this clip, she describes working for Minoru Yasui while in Denver, and watching him help Issei legal clients file claims for their wartime losses.
Blog Spotlight: At 90 years old, Chizu Omori is still fighting for justice

Activist and filmmaker Chizu Omori has spent most of her life advocating for the rights of marginalized peoples. And at the age of 90, she shows no sign of slowing down. Even through the past year of the pandemic, she has shown up to weekly Black Lives Matter protests in Oakland and countless Zoom meetings as part of her work with Tsuru for Solidarity. Check out our interview with her about her involvement with the redress movement and her ongoing activism.
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