We may not be able to come together in person anytime soon, but you can rest assured that we’re working hard to expand our digital offerings and create virtual gathering spaces to stay connected to you, our Densho community. Here’s a list of upcoming and ongoing digital events offered by Densho and other community partners. We’ll continue to update this calendar as we add new programming, so make sure to come back to check out the latest!
In this guest post, scholar and Soto Zen Buddhist priest Duncan Ryūken Williams reflects on celebrating his first 4th of July as an American citizen in the midst of a global pandemic and uprisings against anti-Black police brutality. He illustrates how the concept of interconnectedness can illuminate our understandings of history and various forms of oppression, but also guide our collective work towards liberation.
Guest post by Sara Onitsuka
The last few weeks of protest, sparked by the murder of George Floyd and rising out of 400+ years of slavery, genocide, and other white supremacist and anti-Black violence, have shattered previous ideas of what we thought was possible. More than a dozen cities across the country have proposed to cut some funding from police, and Minneapolis, where the protests began and continue with strength, has taken it a step further by voting to disband the police department. This is a time where we have been called to urgently continue learning and expanding our own political understanding and practices.
As we uplift the achievements and ongoing struggles of LGBTQ communities this Pride season—which, friendly reminder, exists because Black trans women rioted against police violence—we want to highlight the stories of the queer ancestors within our own Japanese American community. Despite the often deliberate erasure of their contributions to our history, and the underrepresentation of queer and trans voices in archives (including our own), we know that LGBTQ history is Japanese American history.
At this moment, we are all trying to comprehend the gravity of recent tragic events and the constantly changing COVID-19 situation. Many of us are processing feelings of frustration, anger, fear, confusion, heartbreak, and anxiety as we navigate these historical and political contexts, and the deep social inequities rising to the surface. To meet this moment, we believe that learning, reflection, and action requires space for brave and supportive processing of these events within our community.
We’re holding a lot of grief and anger over the Black lives stolen by white supremacy in recent weeks. For George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others whose names never made national headlines, we demand justice and mourn their loss. But we also recognize that this is not enough. In this moment—especially with the knowledge that it was an Asian American cop who stood by and did nothing as his partner literally crushed the life out of George Floyd—it is urgent that we as Nikkei and Asian Americans recommit to the hard and messy work of uprooting the anti-Blackness from within our communities.
On the afternoon of April 15th, detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington filled the narrow triangle that serves as the facility’s recreation area. In a carefully choreographed movement, they marched into formation to the universal signal of distress. This act of creative resistance coincided with a hunger strike organized by detainees at the privately-run detention facility.
*Update: registration for this teach-in is now closed. If you would like to be notified about future teach-in dates, sign up for Densho’s eNews.
Join us for a virtual teach-in that will deepen your understanding of American xenophobia and racism, using Japanese American WWII incarceration and the current crisis of immigrant detention as case studies. This interactive learning experience is designed for teachers, high school or college students, community leaders, and individuals simply looking to expand their knowledge and deepen their commitment to action.
When we think of Japanese American memoirs of the concentration camp experience, most of us think of a handful of older classic titles first: Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar, Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660, Monica Sone‘s Nisei Daughter, and Yoshiko Uchida’s Desert Exile. They are certainly the most cited, the most anthologized, the most written about and the most taught. All are well worth the read, but many other memoirs published since provide a much broader range of experiences and perspectives. Here are a dozen of Densho Content Director Brian Niiya’s favorites from the last twenty years.
Earlier this month, three Kentucky pastors filed a lawsuit against a statewide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19 — citing Fred Korematsu’s Supreme Court case to paint the order as part of a long history of “egregious violations of fundamental rights” during “times of public panic and fear.” They’re not the only ones. Just last week, the hyper-conservative One America News Network declared stay-at-home orders “the greatest attack on individual liberty in this republic since the Korematsu decision.” Pundits and anti-lockdown protestors around the country have likened life under quarantine to Japanese American incarceration, Jim Crow laws, and even slavery.
- after camp
- book review
- camp life
- current events
- Densho statement
- film review
- guest post
- hidden histories
- In memoriam
- open letter
- oral history
- Pacific Northwest
- photo essay
- popular culture