Part 2 of the TOMODACHI Critical Conversations Focuses on the Japanese American Experience on Race
On September 5, 2020, the TOMODACHI Critical Conversations Series Part 2, titled “Voices of the Japanese American Experience on Race,” took place online, joined by 50 participants.
Part 1 of this series took part on July 25th (details can be found here) that addressed the question “What is BLM?” and focused on Japan’s response to BLM and what could be done for individuals to become more active participants. Part 2 looked at the Japanese American experience, addressed concepts like allyship and the model minority myth, and looked at the impact race has on our daily lives and how it can help us play a role in advancing US-Japan relations.
Mana Nakagawa fluidly weaved in her expertise as Facebook’s Head of Diversity Strategic Initiatives, as she moderated a session of panelists: Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks, professor in Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University; Satsuki Ina, a writer, activist, psychotherapist, and Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento; and Courtney Sato (2013 Emerging Leaders Program), assistant professor in the Department of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University. Inspired and triggered by panelist insights, participants deepened their understanding of the interconnectivity between the BLM movement and the Japanese American experience throughout our histories.
The event was attended by participants from both the United States and Japan, with most Japanese participants having studied abroad or spent at least two weeks in the U.S. They were split into smaller discussion groups, led by facilitators from the USJC U40 community committed to the ideals of diversity, inclusion and awareness through education and dialogue. The discussion groups were created to provide close peer-to-peer discussions in a safe space.
One of the Japanese participants, Chisaki Nishimori, shared that “in Japan, even individuals who haven’t personally experienced racism have been able to increase their awareness and saw the need to recognize that they might have been biased unconsciously, and that it’s important to educate yourself. Also, if you don’t know about racism or discrimination, we need to take action to tell others you don’t understand and to take steps to understand BLM and other issues more deeply.”
Video of Part 2 can be found HERE.
The third and final part of the TOMODACHI Critical Conversations Series will occur during the USJC Next Generation Summit in December on the topic of Discrimination in Japan.
You can view Part 1 of the TOMODACHI Critical Conversations: What is BLM? HERE
BACKGROUND INFO | Speakers:
- Curtiss Rooks, Discover Nikkei Article 2007 (Link) and TEDTalk LMU 2018 (YouTube)
- Satsuki Ina, DENSHO 2019 Keynote Speech (YouTube) and Website (Link)
- Courtney Sato, Out of the Desert Initiative (digital project)
DIG DEEPER | Resources:
- PBS: Asian Americans
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (Peggy McIntosh)
- Satsuki Ina – NHK: I too was a Child of Camp (2019)
- “Other”: A Brief History of American Xenophobia
- Ugly History: Japanese American Incarceration Camps
- Righting a Wrong
- Power of Words Handbook by the Japanese American Citizen’s League
- The ‘Model Minority’ Myth in 2020: Jennifer Ho and Frank H. Wu
- ‘Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks
- Letters for Black Lives