Bridging Communities connects youth through sessions on identity, culture and civil rights.

On Feb. 20th, some 25 Japanese American and Muslim American high school students convened a the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center for the first session of the second annual Bridging Communities program.

The Bridging Communities program is a program put on by the Japanese American Citizens League –Pacific Southwest District, NCRR, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The program’s purpose is to connect Japanese American and Muslim American youth through a series of interactive sessions about such topics as identity, culture, religion, civil rights, and community.

During the first half of the session, the students explored the concept of identity through a series of fun and interactive workshops that addressed both self-identity and the impacts of stereotyping.

Afterwards, students headed to the Day of Remembrance at JANM. Day of Remembrance commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 with ordered the incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans.

This year’s program was about Korematsu v. United States, a lawsuit that overturned Fred Korematsu’s conviction for refusing to obey the exclusion orders given to Japanese Americans to World War II.

The Muslim American community after 9/11, similar to the Japanese American community after Pearl Harbor, has faced surveillance and racial profiling. Through these and other civil rights violations, the Muslim American community has been held in a state of virtual internment since 9/11.

The Bridging Communities participants will be blogging about their experience a their first Bridging Communities Session and at Day of Remembrance. All the student blogs will be linked on http://bridging communities