Manzanar Committee Decries Racist Violence Targeting African Americans

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The Manzanar Committee issued the following statement on May 31.

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The Manzanar Committee condemns the current wave of racist violence directed against the African American community, especially the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Amaud Arbery, and George Floyd.

As survivors and descendants of America’s World War II concentration camps, we stand with the Black community and raise our voices and channel our collective rage, despair, and grief to challenge white supremacy. We cannot remain silent in the face of injustice.

“The murder of George Floyd shows, once again, that policing in our country continues to devalue the lives of Black people in America,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “We see this current crisis and the wave of racist violence as the continuation of a long history of state violence that is deeply rooted in the history of the United States.”

The murders lay bare the fact that policing in our country is based on two systems of justice, where African Americans, and other communities of color, are systematically targeted for unequal, unjust, and often lethal treatment at the hands of law enforcement.

Embrey noted that Japanese Americans have a special responsibility to speak out when anyone is victimized by hate and violence, especially at the hands of our government.

“Japanese Americans suffered injustices and were incarcerated because of white supremacy and nativism,” Embrey noted. “Denied fundamental human and constitutional rights, our community became the enemy overnight, simply because of our ancestry. In fact, ancestry determined that our families and community were denied equal treatment under the law. There was no due process. We were not innocent until proven guilty, and we had no recourse.”

“The forced removal and mass incarceration of our community and the most recent wave of anti-Asian violence are inextricably linked to the historic oppression of the African American community,” Embrey added.

“As Japanese Americans, we must address the unequal treatment of African Americans in every facet of life in our country. Until we demand systemic change, we will do little to alter the conditions that led to George Floyd’s death and the deaths of so many other African Americans in our country.”

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The Manzanar Committee (http://manzanarcommittee.org) is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when constitutional rights are in danger. A nonprofit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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