“In what ways do you feel the incarceration has impacted your own life?” That’s the question posed in Dr. Donna Nagata’s recent survey of nearly 500 Yonsei descendants of WWII incarceration. Their responses show that the past is anything but over, and that the incarceration continues to impact Yonsei identity, career choices, and much more. In the first major public event for the Yonsei Project, Dr. Nagata will share her preliminary findings and interpretations. She will be joined in conversation by Dr. Satsuki Ina, Brandon Shimoda, and Daryn Wakasa. This event is funded, in part, by 4Culture.

Participants are invited to attend an optional Healing Circle event hosted by Tsuru for Solidarity on Saturday, March 25 from 10-12pm PST. 

Panelist bios: 

Donna Nagata is Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Nagata’s research centers on the multigenerational impacts of the World War II Japanese American incarceration. Inspired by having had both parents incarcerated in the Topaz camp, Dr. Nagata’s work has explored the perspectives of Nisei reflecting on their experiences of unjust wartime imprisonment and reactions to redress, as well as the impacts of the incarceration trauma among third generation Sansei born after the war. Her current study investigates these legacies among the fourth-generation Yonsei. Dr. Nagata has published multiple articles and chapters on the psychosocial consequences of the incarceration and the books “Legacy of Injustice: Exploring the Cross-Generational Impact of the Japanese American Internment” and “Qualitative Strategies for Ethnocultural Research.”

Satsuki Ina, Ph.D. was born in the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Northern California, a WWII maximum security concentration camp for Japanese Americans. Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, she is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in collective trauma. Her clinical practice spanning 30 years has focused on Japanese American survivors and descendants of the WWII mass incarceration. She is co-founder of Tsuru for Solidarity, a social justice organization working to stop the continued mass detention of innocent children and families at the Southern border. Her family story, “The Poet and the Silk Girl: A Memoir of Love, Imprisonment, and Protest,” will be published by HeyDay Books in Fall 2023.

Brandon Shimoda is a yonsei poet/writer and the author of several books, including “The Grave on the Wall” (City Lights, 2019), an ancestral memoir, which received the PEN Open Book Award; “Evening Oracle” (Letter Machine Editions, 2015), poems written at night in Japan, which received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; and “Hydra Medusa,” poems and essays written in the Sonoran Desert, forthcoming this year from Nightboat Books. His book on the afterlife of Japanese American incarceration received a Creative Nonfiction Grant from the Whiting Foundation, and is forthcoming from City Lights in 2024. He teaches creative writing at Colorado College and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

East Los Angeles born Daryn Wakasa is a descendant of Japanese American incarceration camp survivors. He dwells in the liminal space, between – grits and fried rice; the spirit world and physical one; NWA and Hokusai; Japanese and American. As a writer/director, Daryn uses magical realism and supernatural horror to tackle themes that plague his community and family – internalized racism, intergenerational trauma, and cultural identity issues. In 2022, he was selected for Pachinko showrunner Soo Hugh’s screenwriting incubator, The Thousand Miles Project. As a director, his short film In Tune won top prize for the 2022 CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge. His award winning short films Seppuku (2017), Giri (2014), and A Lost Generation (2010) played in film festivals and cultural programs across the country. Daryn advocates for people to embrace their mental health as a superpower. He created a workshop that uses creative writing, acting and artistic exercises as tools to help people unlock their powers.