October 15, 2020
Our history shows that in moments of turmoil, our connections to one another matter more than ever. While we can’t come together in person, we can still be in community with each other to collectively remember our past and affirm our commitment to action.
Join Densho for an inspiring evening of community, remembrance and solidarity. Together we can transform this challenging time into a moment for powerful social change. Join us for a one-of-a-kind virtual event on Saturday, October 24th at 5:00pm PDT.
Learn more about the event from Densho Director, Tom Ikeda:
Densho Dinner @ Home will feature two guest speakers whose work and family histories are deeply rooted in solidarity and social justice. Activist, documentary filmmaker, lawyer, and faith leader Valarie Kaur burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 40+ million views worldwide. Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change.
Valarie also has a direct connection to Japanese American history. Her grandfather was a Sikh immigrant living in Clovis, California in the 1940s. When his Japanese American neighbors were forced to abandon their farm in the wake of EO 9066, he took care of it for the duration of the war. He even traveled to Arizona to visit them during their incarceration at the Poston concentration camp.
Valarie will be joined in conversation by her lifelong friend and the granddaughter of incarceration survivors, Brynn Saito. Brynn is an organizer, poet, educator and co-founder of the Yonsei Memory Project; she was awarded a Densho Artist Residency in 2019, which she used to produce the digital chapbook and online archive, “Dear_.” Brynn and Valarie will share inspiring lessons from their families’ story of solidarity and reflections on the power of radical unity in the face of challenging historical moments.
About the Presenters:
Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist and celebrated prophetic voice “at the forefront of progressive change” (Center for American Progress). As a lawyer, filmmaker, and innovator, she has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, Internet freedom, and more. She founded Groundswell Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip new generations of advocates. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. A daughter of Sikh farmers in California’s heartland, Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School. Valarie’s new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, expands on her “blockbuster” TED Talk and is available now wherever books are sold.
Brynn Saito is a poet, educator, and organizer based in Fresno, CA. She is the author of two books of poetry from Red Hen Press, Power Made Us Swoon (2016) and The Palace of Contemplating Departure (2013), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. She recently authored the chapbook and online letter archive, Dear—, funded by an Artists Initiative Grant from Densho, and Bright Power, Dark Peace, a chapbook co-written with Traci Brimhall. Brynn is a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Fellow and a two-time recipient of the California State Library’s Civil Liberties Public Education grant for her work with Yonsei Memory Project (YMP). Founded in 2017 with farmer, artist, and writer, Nikiko Masumoto, YMP utilizes arts-based inquiry to generate dialogue connecting the WWII incarceration of the Japanese American community with current struggles for justice. Recently, Brynn was featured in Vogue magazine’s “Memory Keepers: Japanese American Internment Survivors and Descendants Speak Out.” She was also an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Arts Institute’s “Truth and Reconciliation” residency and provided the voice-over narration for the Emmy-winning Valley PBS documentary, Silent Sacrifice: Stories of Japanese American Incarceration. Brynn is a fourth generation Japanese American and Korean American born and raised in Fresno, California. Currently, she’s an assistant professor of Creative Writing in the English Department at Fresno State.
Kai Naima Williams is a poet, spoken word performer and fiction writer based in New York City. Her work has been featured in Mask Magazine, DRØME Magazine, CRWN Magazine, The AmerAsia Journal and Louisiana Literature. She has been honored by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and the New York Times. She is also a co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit arts organization Eat At The Table Theatre Company. Kai will be joining us to read a new piece of poetry and reflect on the revolutionary legacy of her great-grandmother, Yuri Kochiyama.
Zach Saginaw, who records as Shigeto, has always cross-wired of a host of different musical influences. The Detroit-based artist masterfully blends jazz and electronic rhythms into luminous sonic landscapes for a sound that is at once rhythmically fractured and melodically sumptuous. He bridges the past and present in his richly textured music, and in more personal ways too. His performing name, Shigeto, is his middle name and also the name of his great grandfather, an Issei who owned a fruit and vegetable market in Chico, California prior to WWII. Some of his earliest EPs — Semi-Circle and What We Held Onto — explored his grandmother’s incarceration at Tule Lake through ambient, beat-driven tracks that incorporate samples of her voice as she reflects on her WWII experience. For the Densho Dinner @ Home, Shigeto is creating an original piece that digs further into his family history, while at the same time exploring questions of identity and injustice.
traci kato-kiriyama (she/they) is an award-winning artist, community organizer and cultural producer; Performer/Principal Writer of PULLproject Ensemble; Director/Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project (presenter of Tuesday Night Cafe -in its 22nd year- the longest-running Asian American-produced, public arts series in the country). traci has been presented in hundreds of venues throughout the country as an author, theatre deviser/performer, storyteller, actor, lecturer, facilitator, artist organizer, and arts & culture consultant. traci’s writing, commentary and work have been presented by a wide swath of media and literary publications (incl. NPR; PBS; C-SPAN, Elle.com; The Hollywood Reporter; Regent Press; Heyday Books; Bamboo Ridge Press, Chaparral Canyon Press, Tia Chucha Press; Entropy). traci’s forthcoming book is being published by Writ Large Press/The Accomplices.
Sean Miura is a writer, producer/organizer, and digital media professional. He produces and leads curation for Tuesday Night Cafe, the longest running Asian American public art series. Interested in the intersections of Asian American self-determination, research, storytelling, and community organizing, Sean has lectured at, performed for, produced, and moderated programming for organizations such as PBS SoCal, Kollaboration, Inside Lands, and Densho. Among other publications, his writing has appeared in Reappropriate, Nerds of Color, and the Harvard Asian American Policy Review. In 2019 he was a subject of the NHK documentaries “Manzanar Revealed” and “All That Remains.” Sean currently works at BuzzFeed and has consulted on messaging and creative direction for projects with Netflix, A24, and a number of independent artists.
The Densho Dinner @ Home experience wouldn’t be complete without take-out sushi from your favorite local restaurant and your favorite beverage to go with it! We are partnering with local sushi restaurants to bring you the Densho Dinner experience from the comfort of your home. I Love Sushi, Sushi Kashiba, and Ten Sushi have developed special menus for the Densho Dinner. Don’t live in the Seattle area? We’ve compiled the best-rated sushi restaurants in your area, check out our handy map. Find all the information about ordering sushi kits here.
Try pairing your sushi with sake recommendations from the Sake School of America. If sake isn’t your thing, we’ve got you covered with three custom Densho Dinner cocktail recipes that you can make in your kitchen.