We began our Community Conversations series in July, 2020. The series provides an opportunity for deeper community conversation around identity and intergenerational trauma, anti-Black racism in our own community, and an exploration of what it means to be in solidarity with other communities historically targeted by racism and state violence. Keep checking back for new programs as they get added!
Youth Speak Out! – Activism for our Future
March 6th at 1pm-2:30pm PST | 2-3:30pm MST | 3-4:30pm CST | 4pm-5:30pm EST
The dire circumstances of asylum-seeking children and families held in mass detention facilities across the country has awakened voices of protest from young activists. Please join us to hear from extraordinary young people using their voices and their art to share stories about their personal experiences, their acts of solidarity, and their vision for the future
Resources from the Meeting:
To donate to support Ivan & Hilda: please make checks out to Austin Sanctuary Network. Put “For Ivan Ramirez” in the subject line. Mail them to Tsuru for Solidarity PO Box 6892, Albany, CA 94706-6892
You can click the links below to view Ivan’s videos:
Other links are in the speakers bios!
Aida Salazar (Oakland, CA) is the award-winning author of Land of the Cranes, the story of nine year old Betita and her fellow asylum-seekers who find ways to fly above the hatred keeping them caged inside a family detention camp. Betita’s family arrived in Los Angeles seeking refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. Her father describes their journey as a family of cranes that have returned to their promised land. Author Salazar was recently awarded an honor by the James Addams Peace Association which recognizes children’s books of literary and aesthetic excellence that engage children in thinking deeply about peace, social justice, global community and equity for all people. She will share a short video about her novel.
Ayako Kiener (17 yo, Oakland, CA) is an artist whose illustrations include the cover and images of The Big Book of Black and Japanese Unity, a coloring book celebrating multiracial leaders and community collaboration. A joint project of Japanese Americans for Justice and Tsuru for Solidarity, its purpose is to provide stories and images for children of all ages to learn about historical and current community leaders in the Black and Nikkei community. As a high school senior, she has organized “Never Again is Now”, a social justice club to increase student awareness and activism. Ayako will present a slide presentation of her illustrations.
Mina Loy Akira Checel (13 yo, Culver City, CA) a budding filmmaker, took on a school project called, “Vote Your Future”. She chose “Immigration” as her topic of interest after participating in an event at the Japanese American National Museum, in Los Angles’ Little Tokyo. In a program there she was to read a letter written by Lillian Yamashita, a Japanese American child whose father was held in a federal internment camp in Santa Fe, New Mexico during WWII. Other children read letters written by children incarcerated today in family detention facilities. This experience inspired her to focus her school project on the history of Japanese Americans during WWII and the repetition of history with today’s inhumane immigration policies. She will share her video project.
Lillian Ellis (12 yo, El Cerrito, CA) and Kaia Marbin (13 yo, Alameda, CA), organized and led “The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful” art project with the goal of making 15,000 paper butterflies as a visual representation of the migrant children in detention in order to raise awareness and inspire action to end child detention. Their new goal is to create butterflies to represent the 76,020 children who were detained at the border last year. They chose butterflies because butterflies are beautiful and unique, just like people; and butterflies fly freely. Last year Kaia and Lillian and other youth led a rally with 1,000 people at Lake Merritt in Oakland in solidarity with migrant children, and then brought 15,000 butterflies to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. They delivered butterflies to every U.S. Senator’s offices with a request to end child detention. They will share a video of their recent actions.
Kazu Friebert (12 yo, Sacramento, CA), Organized Tsuru for Solidarity fold-ins at his middle school with the goal of educating classmates about the plight of children and families being held in detention while seeking asylum in the U.S. He is offering to jumpstart a fundraising effort on behalf of 14 yo immigrant Ivan Ramierz, who has been living in a sanctuary church for the past 5 years. Kazu, aka “Maskmaker Ninja,” is offering a $150 challenge donation from funds he raised designing and selling unique COVID-19 masks. The first 5 people making a $150 donation to Austin Sanctuary Network on behalf of Ivan will receive one of his special COVID-19 masks.
Catch up on our Community Conversation series so far!
Divide & Conquer: The Model Minority Myth & Anti-Blackness Post-War and Now | October 24, 2020
This session focuses on understanding how the intersection of Black and Japanese American lives after WWII set the stage for deepening and perpetuating racism and division. We explore the historical perspective through personal stories to shed light on how anti-Blackness and the myth of the model minority separated our communities. We also look to those who have challenged these divisive narratives to form alliances and build community. Our final conversation will be moderated by Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair, Satsuki Ina and features Hiroshi Shimizu, Ross Harano, Emily Akpan, and Akemi Kochiyama.
Claiming our Full Community: Multiracial Families and Identities in Japanese America | October 10, 2020
The third Community Conversation will be moderated by Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair Duncan Williams and will feature Cori Lin and Curtis Takada Rooks–multiracial Japanese American scholars and activists discussing belonging, identity, and diversity within Japanese America. The roughly 1.3 million-strong Japanese American community is on the cusp of becoming majority multiracial. Join us for this conversation about the the great diversity of multiracial families that constitutes Japanese America; the history of multiracial Japanese Americans, including those who were incarcerated in the WWII camps; and anti-Blackness and other forms of structural racism within the community.
From Barbed Wire to Defund the Police: A community conversation on surveillance, detention, and incarceration | September 19, 2020
Join a conversation with a panel of nationally recognized advocates and organizers moderated by Carl Takei, Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair. The panel, which features Claudia Munoz and Aliya Hussain, will weave together Japanese American incarceration with contemporary examples of mass incarceration, state surveillance, and immigrant detention. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and talk in small groups.
Japanese American Identity & Intergenerational Trauma | July 25, 2020
Brian Niiya, Content Director at Densho, facilitates a conversation between Dr. Donna Nagata and Dr. Satsuki Ina which will engage in rarely discussed issues of the psycho-social impact of the traumatic mass incarceration on Nikkei individuals, families, and communities shaping Japanese American identity and the intergenerational transmission of the trauma.
10am-12pm PDT | 1pm-3pm EDT
This session focuses on understanding how the intersection of Black and Japanese American lives after WWII set the stage for deepening and perpetuating racism and division. We explore the historical perspective through personal stories to shed light on how anti-Blackness and the myth of the model minority separated our communities. We also look to those who have challenged these divisive narratives to form alliances and build community. Our final conversation will be moderated by Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair, Satsuki Ina.
1pm-3pm PDT | 4pm-6pm EDT
The workshop will be followed by Healing Circles for Change to allow participants to join small groups to share thoughts how the historical experiences shared in the workshop have influenced their own lives and attitudes, and what steps can be taken to support the Movement for Black Lives today. You can read more about the Healing Circles here.
Meet our Panel:
Writer, activist, and psychotherapist, Satsuki Ina (moderator), has spent her professional career seeking to understand the long-term impact of collective and historic trauma. She was born in the Tule Lake Segregation, a maximum security American concentration camp during WWII. She is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento. She currently provides consultation to organizations and communities addressing collective and intergenerational trauma. She is co-organizer of Tsuru for Solidarity, a grassroots coalition formed to protest current policies that echo and reverberate the racism and hate so resonant of the historical Japanese American incarceration. She has produced two documentary films, Children of the Camps and From A Silk Cocoon.
Emily Akpan is a Yon-sei of mixed heritage who is proud to be both Black and Japanese American. She is one of the chairs for NY Day of Remembrance, a NYC-based organizer for Tsuru for Solidarity, and plays an active role on the Tsuru for Solidarity’s communications committee. Emily is in the process of building a Black-Nikkei coalition with other Black-Nikkei activists for those who identify as Black and Japanese to find each other, tell our stories and build community & power. Emily lives in Brooklyn, NY where she was born and raised; and has immense love for Brooklyn and her second-home in Seattle where her Japanese American family lives. She earned a bachelor of science from Cornell University where she double majored in Communications and Development Sociology. She currently works at a healthcare advocacy non-profit doing communications and grant writing.
Ross Masao Harano, former Managing Director of the State of the Illinois Trade Office, has over 30 years of experience in helping private and public organizations in the areas of public policy, management and finance. Ross has extensive involvement in public organizational activities and has served as President of the Illinois Ethnic Coalition and the Chicago Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. He has also served as the Treasurer of the Illinois Humanities Council and the Board President of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Ross served as the Chair of the Commission of Asian American Affairs for the City of Chicago. In 1992, he was the first Asian American to be appointed as an Illinois Elector for the Electoral College. In 1994, he was the first Asian American to run for statewide office in Illinois when he was a Democratic candidate for Board Trustee of the University of Illinois. Ross has received awards from the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the American Jewish Committee, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and the Illinois Ethnic Coalition.
A scholar-activist and fundraising professional, Akemi Kochiyama currently serves as the Director of Advancement at Manhattan Country School, a progressive K-8 independent school with a mission-based commitment to social justice, diversity and equity in education and to multicultural community-building and the continuous development of young activists and scholars.
Akemi is also the Co-Director of the Yuri Kochiyama Archives Project and Co-Editor of Passing It On: A Memoir by Yuri Kochiyama (2004, UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press).
A graduate of Spelman College, Akemi is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. Program in Cultural Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the parent of two teenagers, Leilani and Malia.
Hiroshi Shimizu was born in Topaz and travelled through Minidoka, Ellis Island and Rohwer before arriving at Tule Lake at 6 months of age. After his parents spent a tumultuous 2 ½ years at Tule Lake, where his father was imprisoned in the Stockade for 3 months, then taught at the high school level in the Third Ward Japanese Language School. In 1945 his parents renounced their U.S. citizenship and were rejected for release back into America, the family, which now included a younger sister, was sent for continued incarceration, 6 months after the end of the war with Japan, to the Department of Justice Internment camp at Crystal City, Texas. They were released in September of 1947, 2 years after the war officially ended.
In 1996 Hiroshi became a member of the Tule Lake Committee. In 2004 he became the chairman of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage Planning Committee. In 2006 he also became President of the Tule Lake Committee Board of Directors. He is currently, also, co-chairman of the Crystal City Pilgrimage Planning Committee
10am-12pm PDT | 1pm-3pm EDT
The third Community Conversation will be moderated by Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair Duncan Williams and will feature multiracial Japanese American scholars and activists discussing belonging, identity, and diversity within Japanese America. The roughly 1.3 million-strong Japanese American community is on the cusp of becoming majority multiracial. Join us for this conversation about the the great diversity of multiracial families that constitutes Japanese America; the history of multiracial Japanese Americans, including those who were incarcerated in the WWII camps; and anti-Blackness and other forms of structural racism within the community.
1pm-3pm PDT | 4pm-6pm EDT
The workshop will be followed by affinity group spaces. These groups are an opportunity for multiracial Nikkei to engage in conversation and community building. There will also be spaces for parents, guardians, and caregivers of multiracial Japanese Americans.
Meet our panel:
Duncan Ryūken Williams (moderator) is a Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, and Chair of the USC School of Religion/Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture in Los Angeles. Williams is the author of the LA Times bestseller American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2019) about Buddhism and the WWII Japanese American incarceration; The Other Side of Zen (Princeton University Press, 2005); and editor of seven books including Issei Buddhism in the Americas, American Buddhism, Hapa Japan, and Buddhism and Ecology. He is also the founder of Hapa Japan (a mixed race/mixed roots Japanese community and festival); was the founding Executive Vice President of JAPAN HOUSE/LA, and serves as a national steering committee organizations ranging from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Japan Foundation, and the Harvard Pluralism Project.
Cori Lin (panelist) is a midwest-based, Japanese//Taiwanese-American illustrator and designer specializing in portraiture, watercolor, food illustration, and culture-centered storytelling. By visualizing narratives and illuminating concepts, she makes art that fuels action. Her work has been published in the LA Times, Eater Chicago, WBEZ Curious City Chicago, and Twin Cities Daily Planet. Follow her work at www.corilin.co | IG: @cori.lin.art
Curtiss Takada Rooks (panelist) Dr. Rooks is an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He teaches courses in APIA multiracial identity, TransPacific diaspora and contemporary APIA community issues. His teaching also includes short-term study abroad programs in Japan. His research interests focus on Asian American multiracial identity examining the role of multiracial Japanese Americans in US Japan relations, and he has spoken widely on multiracial identity issues. A second trajectory of engaged scholarship includes participatory community-based research focusing on cultural competency in community health & wellness, ethnic community development and college/university persistence and retention.
From Barbed Wire to Defund the Police: A community conversation on surveillance, detention, and incarceration
10am-12pm PDT | 1pm-3pm EDT
Join a conversation with a panel of nationally recognized advocates and organizers moderated by Carl Takei, Tsuru for Solidarity Co-Chair. The panel will weave together Japanese American incarceration with contemporary examples of mass incarceration, state surveillance, and immigrant detention. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and talk in small groups.
Meet our panel:
Carl Takei is a Yonsei descendant of prisoners held at Tule Lake and Amache, as well as the Department of Justice camp in Bismarck, North Dakota. He lives in New York City and is a senior staff attorney at the National ACLU, where he coordinates police practices litigation and related advocacy work. Previously, Carl conducted litigation and advocacy at the ACLU on prison privatization, immigration detention, and related issues. He is lead author of the 2016 ACLU report Shutting Down the Profiteers: Why and How the Department of Homeland Security Should Stop Using Private Prisons and the 2014 ACLU report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System, and a co-author of the 2016 ACLU/NIJC/DWN report Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignores Deaths in Detention. Carl has testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, testified before a working group of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and briefed members of Congress regarding private prisons and immigration detention.
Claudia was born and raised in Monterrey, México and has called Texas home since 2001. After her nephew was detained by ICE, Claudia began to organize with other undocumented youth nationwide to secure his release and demand dignity for all immigrants. Since graduating from Prairie View A&M University in 2009, Claudia has worked for various labor and immigrant rights organizations throughout the country. She is currently the co-Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, a group who works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past.
Aliya Hana Hussain-Panelist
Aliya Hana Hussain is an Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she manages CCR’s advocacy and campaigns on indefinite detention at Guantanamo, the profiling and targeting of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, and accountability for torture and other war crimes. Aliya travels to Guantanamo regularly to meet with CCR’s clients.
10am-12pm PDT | 1pm-3pm EDT
Conversation with Dr. Donna Nagata, psychologist and scholar, and Dr. Satuski Ina, Co-organizer, Tsuru for Solidarity, moderated by Brian Niiya, Content Director, Densho.
Dr. Nagata, Professor at the University of Michigan, psychologist is the author of the landmark study, Legacy of Injustice: Exploring the Cross-Generational Impact of the Japanese American Internment. Dr. Ina, activist and practicing psychotherapist has specialized in the field of collective historical trauma. She produced the documentary film, Children of the Camps: An exploration of the impact of the WWII incarceration on Japanese American children. Facilitated by Brian Niiya, Content Director at Densho, Dr. Nagata and Dr. Ina will engage in rarely discussed issues of the psycho-social impact of the traumatic mass incarceration on Nikkei individuals, families, and communities shaping Japanese American identity and the intergenerational transmission of the trauma.
More Readings from Session 1:
Ethnic and Racial Identity in Multiracial Sansei: Intergenerational Effects of theWorld War II Mass Incarceration of Japanese Americans
Click here for the article
By Karen L. SuyemotoPublished in Genealogy
Abstract: This paper reflects on ways in which intergenerational familial experience of the Japanese American World War II mass incarceration may have differentially affected the ethnic and racial identity development of multiracial Sansei (third generation Japanese Americans). I begin with a brief review of the literature related to the effects of the camps on Nisei, integrating psychological understandings of racial and ethnic identity development, contextual history, and research on the psychological effects; I focus here on effects for Nisei that have been connected to their intergenerational interactions: distancing from Japanese American heritage and identity, silence about the camp experience, and the negotiation of racism and discrimination. I turn then to the primary focus of the paper: Using a combination of autoethnographical reflection, examples from qualitative interviews, and literature review, I engage in reflective exploration of two ways in which intergenerational effects of the camp experience influenced Sansei racial and ethnic identities that vary among monoracial and multiracial Sansei: familial transmission of Japanese American culture by Nisei to Sansei, and the intergenerational effects and transmission of racial discrimination and racial acceptance. I conclude with reflections on intergenerational healing within Japanese American families and communities, and reflections on the relation of these dynamics to current issues of racial justice more generally.
The Japanese American Wartime Incarceration: Examining the Scope of Racial Trauma
Click here for the article
By Donna K. Nagata, Jacqueline H.J. Kim, Kaidi Wu
Published in American Psychiatrist
Abstract: Ten weeks after the 1941 Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the U.S. government authorized the removal 110,000 Japanese American men, women, and children from their homes in Western portions of the country and began moving them to incarceration camps in desolate areas of the United States. The mass incarceration was portrayed as necessary to protect the country from potential acts of espionage or sabotage that might be committed by someone of Japanese ancestry. However, an extensive government review initiated in 1980 found no evidence of military necessity to support the removal decision and concluded that the incarceration was a grave injustice fueled by racism and war hysteria. The Japanese American wartime experience represents a powerful case example of historically based racial trauma. This article examines the consequences of the incarceration for Japanese Americans during and after their unjust imprisonment, their coping responses and healing strategies, as well as the impacts of receiving governmental redress more than four decades after the war’s end. Examination of this specific trauma provides a perspective for under- standing the long-term, radiating effects of racial trauma and healing over a broad arc of time and across social contexts. Current relevance of the Japanese American incarceration and its implications for the field of psychology are discussed
Children of the Camps and From A Silk Cocoon
Now streaming on Amazon Prime
Satsuki Ina, Producer
A powerful documentary that portrays the lingering personal impact of the World War II incarceration experience on Japanese Americans who were children during their imprisonment. This program provides a rare glimpse into the very private lives of Japanese Americans who typically have not talked openly about the humiliation and trauma of their incarceration experience. It is an emotionally riveting piece that tells a disturbing story of racism in America, while highlighting the incredibly enduring strengths and cultural resources of the former prisoners as they embark on a journey of healing.
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Tsuru for Solidarity is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII and we say, “Stop Repeating History!”
Never again is NOW. Our mission is to:
educate, advocate, and protest to close all U.S. concentration camps;
build solidarity with other communities of color that have experienced forced removal, detention, deportation and separation of families, and other forms of racial and state violence;
coordinate intergenerational, cross-community healing circles addressing the trauma of our shared histories.