May 2020
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear friends,

It was with deep sadness that I heard of Irene Hirano Inouye’s passing last month. Twenty-four years ago, I met Irene during an early Densho fact-finding trip to LA. I visited the Japanese American National Museum and saw how much Irene admired and honored the historic photographs, artwork, and artifacts that the museum was collecting and preserving. Moreover, she was passionate about building a new, larger museum to hold these treasures. Three years later a beautiful museum was built in the heart of Little Tokyo and was soon staffed with a hundred people. Irene’s vision and passion was infectious, calling on all Japanese American organizations to think bigger when sharing the stories of our community.  

A dozen years later, in 2008, Irene had another vision to energize the Japanese American community. I watched Irene, in the midst of a deep economic recession, bring together Japanese Americans from around the country to grow people-to-people connections between the U.S. and Japan. I then saw her create the U.S.-Japan Council and exceed expectations for membership, fundraising, and impact as leaders from around the world would congregate at USJC events. She did this while also leading the boards of a couple of the largest philanthropic foundations in the nation. It was very clear that Irene’s impact had grown to an international sphere.

However, what impressed me most was Irene’s generosity and strong sense of community. She would always credit others for the many accomplishments and successes in her career. Moreover, whenever I reached out for advice or help, she was there with a smile and a bit of wisdom. Irene, you are missed and not forgotten. Rest in peace and power. 

My heart goes out to all who are mourning the loss of this important leader, or any other beloved community or family members. Please know that I am with you in this challenging time, and reach out to me or the Densho staff if there is anything we can do to support you: .

In peace and solidarity,
Densho is pleased to invite you to join us for a virtual teach-in that will help you deepen your understanding of American xenophobia and racism. This interactive learning experience is designed for teachers, high school or college students, community leaders, and individuals simply looking to expand their knowledge and deepen their commitment to action. 

The Xenophobia teach-in will be held on June 13th and 23rd , with the possibility of additional dates being added in the future. It is open to the public, but priority will be given to Washington State teachers. Upon completion of the workshop and a post-workshop survey, attendees will receive a $100 stipend for their participation.

Densho in the News: "Asian Americans" Series on PBS

Densho's content director, Brian Niiya, is featured prominently in the second episode of PBS's monumental documentary film series on the history of Asian America. After watching the episode's Monday premier, Niiya praised the the filmmakers for doing a "great job of mixing somewhat familiar stories in a different way, while also telling largely unknown stories through a consciously pan-Asian American approach."

Looking for some good reads to keep you company while you're stuck at home? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Densho Content Director Brian Niiya put together a list of his favorite "camp" memoirs written by Japanese American authors over the last 20 years.

>> Read more .
Blog Highlight: We Can't Believe this Actually Needs to be Said, But No, Quarantine is Not the Same Thing as Incarceration

We can’t believe this actually needs to be said, but... since there are people out there calling quarantine measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 "the greatest attack on individual liberty in this republic since the Korematsu decision," here it is: Staying home during a global pandemic is not the same thing as being incarcerated and stripped of basic civil rights. Your living room is not a concentration camp, and exposing service providers to hazardous working conditions so you can get a haircut is not an inalienable right.

>> Read more .
Join Julie Otsuka, award-winning author of When the Emperor Was Divine , in conversation with Tom Ikeda for the culminating celebration of NEA Big Read: King County. Otsuka and Ikeda will discuss the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and what that dark history means today. This event will take place on May 19th from 7-8:15pm PST .

Racism & Xenophobia in the COVID-19 Era: Trends and Community Responses in the Pacific Northwest

Join Densho executive director, Tom Ikeda, and board member, Toshiko Hasegawa, for a moderated discussion hosted by the Pacific Northwest branch of the Anti-Defamation League on May 26th from noon to 1pm PST . Panelists will discuss the hate communities are facing, what local governments and advocates are doing, and what you can do to stop the virus of bigotry from spreading further.

Oral History Spotlight: Lillian Horita

Lillian Horita was twelve years old during World War II, when she was sent to the Portland Assembly Center and the Tule Lake and Minidoka concentration camps. In this clip, she discusses her feelings about being put in camp as a young person: "I was very hurt that my country didn't trust me."

The first in our series of genealogy workshops with Linda Harms Okazaki was a huge success with nearly 200 people in attendance! If you missed it, you can still watch the archived workshop here . And join us for a series of additional genealogy workshops aimed at helping you develop your family history acumen, which will be offered beginning June 18th.