Tsuru Rising Statement
By Nina Wallace, Seattle
I think all of us are holding onto a lot of grief and anger right now. For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and for all of the Black lives that have been stolen by white supremacy in the past few weeks and for the entirety of our country’s history. It’s right that we mourn them and demand justice in their name. But what this moment has made crystal clear—if it was not already—is that grief and anger alone are not enough.
This is a moment when we as Nikkei and Asian Americans must truly and meaningfully commit to dismantling anti-Blackness in our communities, our families, our institutions, and in ourselves. Not because the anti-Black violence that killed Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin is inextricably linked to the anti-Asian violence being directed at our communities during this pandemic (which it is), and not because our elders also faced incarceration and state violence (which they did), but because it is the right thing to do.
Throughout our history and through this current moment, we have been both victims and accomplices of state violence. If we hope to end this violence, we must engage with that complexity and leverage the privileges we have, even as we name the systems that harm us too.
This means having difficult conversations with our elders, our youth, and our peers. This means de-centering the voices and feelings of non-Black Asians, and following the leadership of Black people. This means disinvesting—literally, financially—from prisons and policing, and redirecting our labor and our material resources toward building compassionate systems of community care.
At Densho we borrow our name from a Japanese word that means “to leave a legacy.” Today, we have a choice of what legacy we leave behind, of what kind of ancestors we will be. Let us choose to be the ancestors who stood firmly and lovingly on the side of justice, because Black lives matter, have always mattered, and will forever matter.
Nina Wallace is a yonsei member of the Seattle chapter of Tsuru for Solidarity, and the communications coordinator at Densho. On Sunday, Nina and her fellow Seattle Tsuru members organized a car caravan outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, where detained immigrants are currently staging the fourth hunger strike in two months to protest the unsafe conditions inside NWDC and demand they be released. They played taiko and banged on pots, pans, and car horns to let the people inside NWDC know they are not alone in their fight, and held a remembrance ceremony to honor our Black, Brown, Indigenous, and trans siblings who have been killed by police and ICE prisons.