by Jeff Selby
Stories of Shared Struggles
The Japanese-American experience serves as a lesson and reminder for all that we cannot and must not take our civil liberties for granted. With our community’s unique history, I believe we have a responsibility to educate the public. Your Portland JACL Board does this by vigilantly researching and taking on issues that could threaten our civil rights—Portland’s potential participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) is a good example. A letter from the Board to The Oregonian regarding the JTTF is included in this newsletter.
Civil rights threats and hate crimes are taking place around the country and in our own backyards. During her 2010 campaign for Florida State House of Representatives, Tea Party Candidate Marg Baker proposed incarcerating “illegal immigrants” in U.S. camps saying, “We can ship them out to the middle of the country and put up high walls and leave them there.” According to the Los Angeles Times, hate crimes against the Jewish community are up 50% in California. The Portland Mercury reports that so far this year, Portland police have taken reports of 55 hate crimes, including 12 motivated by race or color and 21 motivated by gender or orientation. Crimes against members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community are outpacing incidents against other victims in our city.
As we begin this New Year, your JACL Board is preparing for the Day of Remembrance next month. Every year, Portland JACL strives to honor the Day of Remembrance with an event or events worthy of the day. In years past, we have partnered with groups like the Arab-Muslim and Latino communities to share our experiences and find ways to learn from our civil rights challenges. This year, as we observe the recent repeal of the discriminatory military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I am proud to announce that Portland JACL is honoring the Day of Remembrance with an event called, “Fighting for Civil Rights: The Japanese-American and LGBT Experience.” Join us on Sunday, February 20, 2011, 2:00 p.m. at Portland State University’s George C. Hoffmann Hall (1833 SW 11th Ave.).
The event will commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Roosevelt, which led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, and the parallel challenges our community has shared with the LGBT community.
I urge you to attend this event next month and learn more about our communities’ struggles for civil rights. For more information, stop by the Portland JACL Booth at Mochitsuki on January 30, at the Scottish Rite Center on 1512 Morrison St.