The National Japanese American Citizens League issued the following statement on Nov. 10.
JACL fully understands the protests of despair that have arisen in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump as president. We especially understand the voices that denounce the unabashed racism that was evident during the campaign, and we add our voice to that denunciation.
At the beginning of the presidential campaign, JACL denounced the coarsening of public discourse especially in its portrayal of groups, which served to reinforce myths and stereotypes leaving an impression that to be different by race, ethnicity, or religion was anathema to being American. We recalled the early 1990s when Japanese Americans and Asian Pacific Islander Americans were targeted and became unwitting victims during an economic downturn when “Japan-bashing” in reaction to a strengthening economy in Japan became a rallying cry from politicians seeking simple solutions to deeply rooted problems.
The campaign season began with attacks against political correctness and devolved into full-throated expressions of racism. We know when groups are singled out and targeted that it tears at the social fabric by making them feel vulnerable, fearful, and suspicious of others. Respect for diversity has always served to strengthen America and despite the deep divisions caused during the recent election cycle, we must now continue to defend this unique American value and adamantly reject attempts to further undermine it.
Moreover, during the past year, JACL had been involved in civic engagement efforts to encourage members of our community to register and to vote. Voting is a cherished right that Japanese Americans do not take lightly because we recall how our immigrant Issei generation was denied this right by being denied the opportunity to become citizens during the first 50 years after their arrival in the United States. While we applaud participation in the electoral process, we must now turn our attention to the need for vigilance and response to once again combat the forces of racism that have been emboldened during the campaign.
President-elect Trump now calls for unity, a message that was too long in coming. It is, however, the right message that he and all of us must now turn into actions that will address the daunting challenges we now face.