Generations Speak Out
at the 2014 Day of Remembrance
DOR is observed on or around February 19th, the date in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed an order authorizing the incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast.
The emcees were Traci Ishigo, program coordinator for the JACL Pacific Southwest Disdrict and riKu Matsuda, a senior intergroup relations specialist for the L.A. County Commission of Human Relations.
For the annual remembrance ceremony, former incarcerees in the audience were asked to stand and be acknowledged: Each attendee was given a nametag, similar to the ones worn by internees when they were rounded up, with the name of one of the camps. As the name of each camp was read, those with the corresponding tags were asked to stand. There was a moment of silence for community members who have passed away.
This year, individuals were asked to share monologues on how E.O.9066 affected them and their families. Akemi Kikumura Yano, former JANM president/CEO and a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, spoke about her issei parents.
Bay Area writer/poet Hiroshi Kashiwagi was unable to attend, but Kurt Kuniyoshi of the Grateful Crane Ensemble read the testimony that Kashiwagi gave before the Commission of Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in San Francisco in 1981.
Theatre artist and activist Jude Narita was to represent the Sansei view but had to cancel. Instead, Kuniyoshi read a piece by Kashiwagi about being ostracized as a “no-no” boy.
Representing the Yonsei was Sean Miura, a member of Little Tokyo Roots and head producer for the Tuesday Night Café performing arts series.
Playwright/poet/screenwriter Velina Hasu Houston described herself as Shin-Issei and Japanese Hapa. She dedicated a poem, “Different” to the Issei and Nisei who were incarcerated.
The annual “Call to Action” was given by Marsha Aizumi, and educator and advocate for the LGBTQ community. The author of “Two Spirits, One Heart” and a national board member of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends for Lesbians and Gays.), she explained how she became an activist.
“I’m the mother of a transgender son. He was born female but he always felt like a boy. In elementary school, it was not a big deal, but in middle school, he became depressed, suicidal. It was a difficult time for the family.
“And like Japanese Americans, who were judged by not what they did but who they were, my son was judged by who he was. He was cruelly harassed almost every day at school.“
“But, in 2008, he told me, I feel like a boy inside and I want to transition to be the boy I am. So in the year 2009, we took that whole year to transition my daughter to be my son. As he transitioned, it was the most amazing thing to see my son blossom, to see him become able to live as an authentic human being that didn’t have to hide.”
The program concluded with a reception catered by Carrie Morita and friends. Event sponsors included JANM, JACL PSW, the Manzanar Committee and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.