May 2016
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda

Dear Friend,

The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is a lesson in the power of words when paired with fear and hatred. In speeches, newspaper editorials and political cartoons, Japanese Americans were demonized as spies, terrorists, and incapable of being American. Although the charges and rumors were false, 120,000 U.S. citizens and legal residents were imprisoned without trial, persecuted by the fearful, racist words of politicians and the media, and with only silence from those who knew better.

Today, the hateful, negative speeches of Donald Trump are more than just words to win an election. They are words seeping into the fabric of our country’s consciousness, often polluting the minds of our youth. A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center looked at the impact the presidential campaign was having on students. A couple of findings from the report stood out for me.

“More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims—have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.”

“Many children, however, are not afraid at all. Rather, some are using the word Trump as a taunt or as a chant as they gang up on others. Muslim children are being called terrorist or ISIS or bomber.”

We cannot sit quietly and watch as the very tenets of our hard-won civil rights and values are eroded. I welcome any ideas or suggestions you have on how we can help forward our democracy, rather than tear it down. Email me at with your thoughts.


Thank you for giving BIG! 

Despite the technical difficulties with the GiveBIG donations platform, you persevered and made record-breaking donations this year! We received 181 donations totaling nearly $22,000! We are blown away by your generosity.

Thank you all! 

Demonstration Project II: Summer 2016

Thanks to an anonymous donor, we are extending our Demonstration Project for teaching Japanese American history through primary sources to more teachers!

We are seeking 50 Washington state-based secondary teachers to participate to take an online course, try it in their classroom, and give us feedback. All participants who complete the following will receive a $200 honorarium and will be eligible for 5 clock hours.

Applications are due June 21.

>>Learn more and apply

Densho in the News published our article on Dorothea Lange, bringing it to a wider national audience.

The comments on the Facebook page showed that people are making the link between this history and current events: 

"This part of America's history haunts me, makes me incredibly sad and ashamed of our fear and ignorance."

"A historical glimpse of a future America under President Trump."

NBC Asian America also picked up the story and included more from Densho Content Director Brian Niiya about the significance of the embargo's lift and the photos being made more widely available to the public. 

>> Read more

In the wake of last month's Peter Liang ruling, Densho's Nina Wallace took a look back at the history of the model minority myth and how it continues to fuel racial tensions:

"From its roots in Japanese American incarceration through its long history of criminalizing African Americans, the model minority myth has always served to marginalize voices of resistance. In fixating on whether Liang was denied the impunity given to his white counterparts, the question of why that impunity exists in the first place goes unasked."
>>Read more
Oral History Spotlight

Tamiko Honda grew up in the Santa Clara area of California, before World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she was removed with her family to the Tanforan Assembly Center, California, and the Topaz concentration camp, Utah. In this clip, Tamiko discusses her first impressions of Tanforan and the effects the camps living conditions had on her parents.

Densho's 20th Anniversary Gala 

Join us Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Sheraton Seattle Downtown for a catered dinner, keynote, as well as live and silent auctions. The evening's program will highlight the accomplishments of the past two decades as we look to the future. 

>> More information and tickets

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