Shining a Light on Racism

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Nancy Oda and her granddaughter Arielle Oda engaged in protest this week in their own ways. Nancy by shining a light as she shelters at home in Van Nuys. Arielle, a 19-year-old student at Clemson University, by protesting in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Nancy wrote: “A light in the dark symbolizes HOPE for 8:46 minutes to incite change from home.”

A Rafu Shimpo Editorial

No one will dispute the fact that 2020 has been a challenging year so far. Beginning with the heartbreak brought on by COVID-19 and, more recently, expressed in the range of feelings exhibited during massive demonstrations throughout the nation, we are all experiencing a sea change together.

Instinctively, as humans, we tend to focus on what offends and provokes us. Certainly, as Japanese Americans, we are no strangers to racial discrimination and what happens when politics and racism merge into a perfect storm of hate. The wartime experience of our parents and grandparents is testimony to what can happen when dissenting voices are forced to keep silent.

In this moment, during this seemingly endless downpour of commotion, The Rafu Shimpo is keenly aware that community institutions and their leaders have articulated their collective feelings. On these pages, we have included statements issued by leading community organizations, many of whom will likely be at the forefront of helping to affect the solutions to the issues that have been raised.

We are living through a challenging, thought-provoking, often uncomfortable time. The ability to adapt to change, meet the challenges, relate to one another and, if necessary, resolve our differences is within each of us.

The answers rest in our ability to listen and in the lessons we choose to bequeath to the next generation.

Tuna Canyon Detention Station

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition’s mission is to preserve stories of the Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, Japanese taken from Peru, and others unjustly imprisoned at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, which was operated by the Department of Justice during World War II. The reason we preserve these stories is to remember, learn and grow from past injustices.

We grieve over the tragic loss of George Floyd and other Black Americans and the pain being expressed nationwide. As members of the TCDS Coalition, we believe in upholding freedom and justice for all and treating all humans fairly regardless of their differences. We believe it is important to add our voice to stand with those subjected to prejudice, threats and violence based on race. We oppose anti-Black racism and stand with Black Lives Matter as our goals and values strongly resonate and support its message.

We stand on the memories of all past injustices in the hope that acting together in peace we may reach for a future world where we are all truly free of racial and social injustices.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” —  Martin Luther King

Japanese American National Museum

The following statement is from former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum.

“The Japanese American National Museum stands with Black communities across the country and we redouble our commitment to opposing racism, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms. We will continue to find ways to contribute to the ongoing dialogue about race and an ethical reckoning with the disparities in our society.

“As we feel the anguish at the murder of George Floyd and the anger at the systemic racism that permeates our country, it is clear today that none of us can stand back and dispassionately watch as more black people are killed.

“Japanese Americans are acutely aware of the damaging results of unresponsiveness and indifference from Americans in positions of privilege. During World War II, few people in the U.S. spoke out when the government violated the constitutional rights of 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry by forcibly removing us from our homes and incarcerating us in American concentration camps.

“At this time, all of us must take on the monumental challenge of overcoming centuries of prejudice and social inequities. It will require courage for every one of us to confront our own bias and indifference. It will require organizations to join the fight and speak out. It will take all of us to fundamentally change our country’s approach to race and inequality.

“Black Lives Matter. What we do now matters.”

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

We wholeheartedly stand with the Black community and believe that Black lives matter and deserve justice.

Businesses in Little Tokyo were looted last night. This was not done by protesters but by people who decided to take advantage of the grief and angst of others for their personal gain.

We hope that small businesses take extra precautions to minimize loss — take home valuables, cash, etc and paper up windows/make the stores appear empty as possible from a street view.

Larger companies will be able to rebuild but small businesses will not. We ask that you please be mindful of the historical businesses in Little Tokyo that have survived incarceration during WWII as well as the small businesses that are already struggling.

Please remember to be safe, and be kind to one another.

Little Tokyo Service Center

We are horrified over the murder of George Floyd and countless others who have been targeted because of the color of their skin. Each of these injustices are not isolated incidents; rather, they are manifestations of racist ideologies and inequalities that have pervaded our society for far too long.

As an organization founded by people of color, Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) recognizes our responsibility to stand up for those fighting against systemic racism. We want to reaffirm and redouble our commitment to show up for the Black community, not just in words, but in our actions — individually, as an organization, and as a community.

We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and will partner with other communities of color to listen and engage in honest conversations about making change happen. And by addressing our own implicit biases, we can more effectively amplify Black voices and catalyze social justice.

Historically, Asian American struggles for civil rights have been built upon the victories and accomplishments of the civil rights and liberation movements spearheaded by the Black community, often at the cost of lives. In this moment in history, it’s crucial that we, in turn, show up for the Black community — our collective liberation depends on it.

We grieve with the Black community for the murders the nation has witnessed, and are inspired by the diverse voices that have risen up demanding change. We are proud to join with them.

Visit our website (www.ltsc.org) for anti-racist resources!

Little Tokyo Community Council

In the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, another in a tragic series of killings of Black people, the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) affirms that Black Lives Matter, and stands in solidarity with the Black community to end police brutality and institutional racism.

Little Tokyo and Japanese American history have often intersected with the Black community, often in a moment of need. This is such a moment and LTCC pledges to address racism and anti-Blackness within our community; to create a greater awareness within the Japanese American community of the Black community’s social and economic needs; and, to work with our member organizations and our greater community to help achieve tangible change to this systemic societal issue.

San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center

The following statement is from Kay Oda, president of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in Pacoima.

“Our members built the center as a safe haven from racism for the Nisei and Sansei after camp.

“Once the criminal element was removed from the protest and the looting stopped, the silent majority found their voice. The world witnessed peaceful protests decrying the death of George Floyd and supported Black Lives Matter. People of various age groups, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and political parties began the collective fight for equal justice reforms.

“During the vigil when I held a light for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, images of all the past human rights violations flooded my mind. I hope that these horrific events will end, bringing systemic change in the future.

“I am proud to be involved the change that is happening today. We are making progress but we still have so far to go. It is up to everyone — black, white, everyone — to keep this going.

“I don’t want this to just be a phase and people forget about in a couple months. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves and others to not be blinded by prejudice.”

 

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