By Reika Nishiyama
For The North American Post
At the end of January, two events were held regarding the history of Japanese Americans. The first one was a webinar by Tsuru for Solidarity on January 30th, “Solidarity in the Struggle: Detention USA / From Japanese American Detention to Family & Child Detention.” Honoring the legacy of civil rights hero Fred T. Korematsu and his fight for racial equity, social justice and human rights for all, it provided an overview of current child and family detention and how it relates to JA history. The second one was “Legacy of Movement from JA Incarceration” for Bellevue College students on January 31st. There, Erin Shigaki, an artist creating works related to the WWII incarceration of her community, discussed her family history and her works exhibited at Bellevue College.
The word “trauma” was an important keyword for both events. Speakers from Tsuru remarked on the importance of drawing upon lessons of the past connecting the injustice and trauma of the incarceration to current struggles for justice and equity. During discussion sections, while the participants shared their own traumatizing family histories in camps, they were shocked to learn that many children are still suffering from similar inhumane situations.
During Shigaki’s event, the artist said, “my works are about helping to heal trauma and pass it down intergenerationally.”
A second important keyword was “education.”
At the Tsuru event, Karen Korematsu said “History is a tool to fight what is happening now, but even now ignorance still lives; that is why I fight for education across this country.”
Sharing the story of the defacement of her art at Bellevue College, and its follow-up protests, Shigaki left a question to students.
“Whose stories are missing and how do you want to tell them?”
After Shigaki’s presentation, a student mentioned that “There were histories I never got to hear and parts of people working I never got to see. I felt that I do not have to be afraid to take an action to help others.”
Through the two events, the history of JAs was passed down to the next generation and allowed them to gain new insight.