Categories
Statement

Portland JACL Statement

Justice Alito’s Majority Draft Concerning Roe V. Wade

In response to Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked initial majority draft for the Supreme Court, the Portland Japanese American Citizens League would like to voice our support for reproductive freedom for all. We at the JACL believe that abortion is a deeply personal decision that a person makes after serious contemplation with regards to their own health, values, and personal sense of ethics. While not official, Justice Alito’s draft could be a harbinger of what is to come- the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Up until now, Roe v. Wade has protected the right to abortion in all fifty states up until fetal viability (about twenty-four weeks). While overturning Roe v. Wade does not prohibit abortion on a federal level, states will be able to individually make the decision to outlaw the medical procedure.

In summation, people with uteruses in pro-choice states will have access to abortion. Socioeconomically well-off people with uteruses in pro-life states will have access to abortion as they can travel to pro-choice States, like Oregon, that will continue to give access to abortion. However, people in pro-life states who are socioeconomically disadvantaged will not have access to abortion. In many pro-life states this population is overwhelmingly People of Color. Limiting rights that disproportionately affects communities of color and poor communities only reinforces the racism and classicism in our country.

Furthermore, contrary to what Justice Alito claimed in the majority draft, the right to an abortion does not exist in a vacuum outside of other civil rights. Roe v. Wade, a ruling based on the Fourteenth Amendment (“No State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”), is one of several unenumerated rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Other unenumerated rights include the right for people to marry a different race, the right to marry a person regardless of their gender, and the right to vote. Justice Alito’s reasoning for the dissolution of Roe v. Wade does not just undermine reproductive freedom, it also undermines all unenumerated rights as well.

Per Executive Director of the JACL, David Inoue, “We cannot be a United States of America if not everyone in our nation holds the same rights.”

How You Can Help

Join us in protest on Saturday, May 14 th from 2:00- 5:00 PM: Protest Information
Keep Our Clinics
National Network of Abortion Funds
Pro-Choice Oregon

Categories
Newsletter

A Perspective on Resilience

By Spencer Uemura

Hello and Happy May!

The month of May has quickly become one of my favorite times of the year. It’s around now that the weather has usually started to get warmer, especially after the surprise snow that we got in mid-April.

But aside from the climate, each May brings two important celebrations: Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month and Mental Health
Awareness Month. Through Asian American and mental health related events, it is a time when Asian Americans of various backgrounds and experiences can be seen, uplifted, and celebrated.

Since January, you may have noticed a request for feedback in our newsletters, with a link to a survey about your experiences with wellness and mental health as members of the Japanese American community. Your responses have been invaluable and I extend my continued gratitude to those who have replied. One theme that arose is the strength of our ancestors that brought them through immigration, incarceration, and/or other pressures, but also the continued need for healing spaces in our community in the present. If you’d still like to share your experiences in the survey, I would love to hear from you! Please fill out the survey linked later in this newsletter, or reach out to me to arrange a time to talk.

As a Japanese American mental health therapist, I know that there are significant barriers for us to receive care, whether from the Western mental health system or different approaches. There can be an intense feeling of stigma against seeking help or acknowledging where we feel hurt or vulnerable.

These feelings can run deep, passed down generationally from those who did what they needed to do to get by. Inspired by those who have shared their stories about mental health, struggle, and resilience in the survey, I thought it was appropriate for me to share my own. I was a young boy when I started to have nightmares about what would happen to me after I passed away. Oddly enough, what kept coming to mind was a scene in Star Wars: A New Hope in which the protagonists get caught in a trash compactor and the walls begin to close in, threatening to crush them. In my mind’s eye, the walls would close until they finally met in the middle, and all that was left was darkness.

This sense of doom led to more feelings of depression and anxiety, and I didn’t know how to talk about what I was feeling, or who I could talk to. My parents were as supportive and loving as they knew how to be – I was fortunate to have their support to access mental health therapy – but they hadn’t learned how to talk about big emotions from their parents and their surrounding community. My parents did the best they could, and because this kind of intergenerational healing is incremental, they put me in a position where I can continue this work for myself.

The isolation I felt in those days led me to the field of mental health therapy. I wanted the tools to understand myself, the ability to support others who might be feeling as alone as I did, and I wanted to be able to help my people heal. I am still prone to depression and anxiety. Even as a therapist myself, it often takes me an embarrassingly long time to acknowledge I need extra support when life gets more challenging. Our feelings of stigma are deeply ingrained. But ultimately, there are many more ways to engage and invest in our own growth than just working with a therapist. Among many things, healing could mean attending cultural events, eating Japanese foods, speaking or learning the language, or spending time with friends and family.

May we continue the healing that our ancestors began for us.


Some things for your consideration during this APIDA Heritage and Mental Health Awareness Month:

  • We carry the pain of our ancestors, as well as the resilience that brought them through incredible difficulty.
  • Who are the people, past or present, who taught you strength and resilience?
  • What is something that you can do to foster that strength and resilience in yourself?
  • Our areas of vulnerability create opportunities for supportive connection.
  • Who are the people, past or present, who taught you the value of softness and openness?
  • What is something that you can do to foster that softness and openness in yourself?

Help guide our work!

Your very own PDX JACL Advocacy Committee has a goal to address Asian American Safety and Visibility as one of its priorities for the new year. Under this topic are the important mental health needs of the Japanese American community. We know that we cannot do this work for our community without receiving feedback from the community, so we would love to hear from you!

Sample questions:

  • How have your JA family/friends engaged with topics like wellbeing and mental health?
  • What are some phrases you have heard in the JA community response to hardship? (i.e. “Shikata ga nai”, “It can’t be helped”, “It’ll be fine”)
  • What has your overall wellness and mental health been like during the COVID pandemic?
  • What are the needs that you see around you, related to mental health?

You may complete this anonymous Google Form or contact Spencer@pdxjacl.org to arrange a one-to-one conversation. Thank you in advance for your collaboration!

Categories
Annual Event Newsletter

Remembering and Repairing

Portland JACL’s Day of Remembrance Event 2022

Board Member Message by Jenny Yamada

Portland JACL hosted Day of Remembrance 2022 in-person at Kennedy School on February 26. The focus of the event was around a screening of Jon Osaki’s documentary film Reparations, which explores the present-day struggle for redress for Black Americans and the role that solidarity between communities has in breaking down systemic racism.

After the screening, Jon joined us as a panelist along with artist, organizer and member of Nikkei Progressives, traci kato-kiriyama (tkk). Nathan Soltz, Sen. Frederick’s Chief of Staff, joined in place of the senator. Ed Washington moderated the discussion. 

Our panelists stressed the importance of studying the past, paying attention to state and city politics, and keeping pressure on our representatives. The topic of reparations has been part of JACL National’s focus for several years. As the push to pass H.R. 40 continues, it’s important to recognize what is happening locally too. 

One of my takeaways from our DOR is that I need to pay more attention to and “study, study, study!” (as tkk put it during the panel) history. Part of this is educating myself more on racialized displacement in Portland and the history of Central Albina in particular. Portland prides itself in being progressive and equitable, but it doesn’t take much studying to see the cracks in that perception. 

One of the efforts in Portland around restitution for its Black residents involves a newly released report by students from Portland State University’s Urban and Regional Planning program. The report titled Reclamation Towards the Futurity of Central Albina: Dreamworld Urbanism was written in collaboration with the Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2 (EDPA2), a group of residents and their descendents forcibly displaced from the Albina neighborhood with the expansion of Emanuel Hospital in the 1970s. It reinforces the decades-long effort from Portland’s Black community to get restitution for these families whose homes were demolished for the expansion project that was never built. We were fortunate to have Byrd from EDPA2 join us for DOR to give an overview of the history and the findings.

The report goes through demographic data from Central Albina over decades uncovering how urban renewal projects prevented Black residents from building wealth there. It includes a detailed impact analysis of quantifiable losses of about 300 homes and businesses demolished and makes a recommendation for payment using public data.

The report also describes what it calls “incurable loss,” acknowledging that there are spiritual and cultural impacts from the displacement that are harder to quantify. As Japanese Americans, we know this type of loss is difficult to account for and easy for those responsible to disregard. It also recognizes the community-enriching spaces lost forever to demolition like a public garden and a free health clinic, which sat on land that has been an empty lot for 50 years. 

Holding up Japanese American redress as an example, the report stresses that restitution for racialized harm is feasible. It calls on the city of Portland, Prosper Portland and Legacy Emanuel to acknowledge their role and answer for what was lost. Other cities have done it and it can be done here too. It’s more than possible and long overdue. 

The report concludes, “the hard work––the critical work––is not in saying we won’t do it again, it is in looking earnestly into the eyes of those harmed, acknowledging, apologizing, and doing what it takes to make it right.”

As a local chapter, we hosted this event as a way to not only continue the conversations around reparations for Black Americans, but to bring people together in the community to make important face-to-face connections. It inspired me to recommit to learning more, listening more and showing up in support and solidarity.


Related Links

Categories
Blog Events

Resources for Okaeri

Okaeri

Instagram: @Okaeri_LA

Website: https://www.okaeri-losangeles.org/ 

Email: Okaeri.LA@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OkaeriLA/


Portland Resources

The Q Center:

As the largest LGBTQ+ community center in the Pacific Northwest, Q Center proudly serves the LGBTQ2SIA+ communities of Portland Metro and Southwest Washington. 

Our drop-in and event space on North Mississippi Avenue is a frequent first stop for new arrivals in Portland, and for longtime residents who are newly out or questioning their sexual or gender identity. 

WEBSITE: https://www.pdxqcenter.org

DONATIONS: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/qcenter

SMYRC:

Here at SMYRC, we provide a safe, harassment-free space for queer and trans youth ages 13-23, where you can create art, play music, and join in on our open mic nights, drag shows, and support groups. You can access services like counseling, school support, and much more. Whatever you are looking for, we are here to honor, empower, and support you

WEBSITE: https://newavenues.org/smyrc/

DONATIONS: https://newavenues.org/donate/give-online/

Categories
Blog

Portland JACL Joins Over 360 Groups Urging US House Leadership to Make H.R. 40 a Priority

Portland JACL has signed onto a letter sent to House leadership calling on them bring H.R. 40 to the floor for a vote. H.R. 40 would create a commission to study the legacy of enslavement and develop reparations proposals.

It's time for the United States to repair its legacy of slavery. #reparationsnow. Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch graphic

Read the letter on the Human Rights Watch website.

As we start Black History Month, the same month as Day of Remembrance, let’s urge our representatives that reparations are still on the top of our mind and that we haven’t forgotten.

Also, if you haven’t RSVP’d for our Day of Remembrance event, register here. This year, Portland JACL will host a screening of Reparations followed by a panel discussion. Learn more about the event.

Categories
Blog Events

Portland JACL Book Club

Join us in coming together as a community and spending time discussing and reflecting on ‘How to be an Antiracist’ by Ibram X. Kendi. Virtual Meetings on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30 pm held the following dates:

  • January 25th Chapters 1 – 4: Definitions: DuelingConsciousness, Power & Biology
  • February 22nd Chapters 5 – 8: Ethnicity, Body,Culture & Behavior
  • March 29th Chapters 9 – 12: Color, White, Black& Class
  • April 26th Chapters 13 – 16: Space, Gender,Sexuality & Failure
  • May 24th Chapters 17 & 18: Success, Survival & Wrap-Up

Learn more, register for the zoom link and request a free copy of the book at: https://tinyurl.com/PDXJACLBookClub

Questions? Email contact@pdxjacl.org

Categories
Blog Election

Candidate Bios

Board Members for the 2022-23 Term

Jeff Matsumoto

President – Jeff Matsumoto

Jeff Matsumoto is a Yonsei born and raised in Lodi, CA. He has worked as an elementary teacher since moving to Oregon in 2000. He looks forward to continuing the work started by the Portland JACL since joining the board a little over 2 years ago with a focus of greater membership engagement and strengthening our ties in the AAPI Community.

Chris Lee

Vice President – Chris Lee
I’m a fifth-generation, multiracial Asian American. Currently I am serving as Co-President for Portland JACL and am seeking a 5th term on the board to continue ongoing work with the finance committee and Mochitsuki. My academic background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies, a Master’s degree in International Management, and I have over ten years of experience in the energy industry.

Heidi Tolentino

Secretary – Heidi Tolentino
Heidi Tolentino has been on the Portland JACL board for 11 years and is the current secretary of the chapter. She works as a high school counselor at Cleveland High School in Portland and was a high school English teacher prior to becoming a counselor. Heidi has a 12-year-old daughter, Malia, who is part of the Portland Public School Japanese
Immersion Program and has been married to her husband, Patrick, for 23 years.

Setsy Sadamoto Larouche

Membership Chair – Setsy Sadamoto Larouche
I would be honored to be your Membership Chair again as Portland has continued to be the largest Chapter in the Nation to include the one Chapter in Tokyo. I’m a product of Nisei Kibei parents from Hiroshima, Japan and we moved back to PDX when I was a child. My bachelor’s degree is in education and my master’s is in logistics. As a retired US Army Quartermaster Officer, I would like to continue my volunteer service to our community.

Jillian Toda-Currie

Treasurer – Jillian Toda-Currie
Jillian Toda-Currie is a fourth-generation Japanese American who grew up in The Dalles, near where her grandparents had a farm and cherry orchard. Jillian currently does marketing research in the healthcare industry. She has volunteered with various organizations in the Portland area including APANO, Minoru Yasui Student Contest, and Impact NW. She is the current Treasurer for the Portland JACL board.


Board Members at Large

Sachi Kaneko

Board Member – Sachi Kaneko
I am a fourth-generation, mixed-race Japanese American and Jewish American. I have been passionate about social justice since I was in high school and have found various ways to stay involved with our
community over the years. I have served for four years on the Portland JACL board. If reelected, I hope to keep serving our community as well as continue advocacy work for BLM, LGBTQIA+ communities, indigenous communities, and other minority groups.

Weston Koyama

Board Member – Weston Koyama
Descended from Japanese immigrants, Weston Koyama is
a fourth-generation Japanese American. Weston maintains a passion
for Japanese culture, speaks Japanese fluently, and strives to foster connections with Japan. He seeks to help the JACL continue its tradition of social justice advocacy as a voice for the Japanese American community. Weston is an Oregon lawyer and a graduate of the U.O. Law School. His hobbies include languages, piano, and
currently studies Cantonese.

Spencer Uemura

Board Member – Spencer Uemura
I am a Yonsei/Shin-Nisei from the Los Angeles area, but I’ve been in Portland for four years. By profession, I’m a mental health therapist,
drawn into this work by a passion for stories and connection. Lately, I have been enjoying documenting my family’s history and requesting and translating koseki (family registry documents) from Japan. I’ve been eager for an opportunity to give back to the Nikkei community, so I’m honored to be considered for the JACL board.

Connie Masuoka

Board Member – Connie Masuoka
I am a Portland born sansei with over 40 years invested in the Portland JACL. You might say I was born in to JACL, as my parents were both active JACL members. My avocation is being the Oregon group leader to the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage and my regular job is being a general dentist in Portland.

Amanda Shannahan

Board Member – Amanda Shannahan
Amanda Shannahan is a mixed-race yonsei. She currently serves as Portland JACL copresident and leads our chapter’s Advocacy Committee. She is passionate about community organizing and working with other marginalized communities to achieve social justice. Amanda is a strong advocate for equity in our education systems and has a background in supporting schools to be
anti-racist and anti-oppressive. She currently works at the Oregon Health Authority promoting access to sex education across
the state.

Marleen Wallingford

Board Member – Marleen Wallingford
I am a Sansei who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. My first job was working as a clerk in my father’s bakery in Hillsdale. I graduated from the University of Oregon with a master’s degree in speech and language pathology and worked for almost 30 years
for Portland Public Schools. As a retired educator, I became active with the Portland JACL, volunteer at the Japanese American
Museum of Oregon and am a court appointed advocate for children in the foster care system.

Jenny Yamada

Board Member – Jenny Yamada
As a fourth-generation Japanese American who grew up in Corvallis, I wasn’t able to be part of the JA community outside of family gatherings. Inspired to make more connections, I joined the Portland JACL Board in 2020. During my first term, I updated the website, helped implement the email newsletter and participated in the Newsletter and Advocacy Committees. Besides serving on the board, I volunteer at JAMO as a docent and work at a local marketing agency.

Categories
Uncategorized

JACL Supports Haitian Asylum Seekers

September 23, 2021

For Immediate Release

Matthew Weisbly, Education & Communications Coordinator, mweisbly@jacl.org

Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs, sbaker@jacl.org

The JACL stands with Haitian refugees seeking asylum in America and is appalled by the blatantly inhumane immigration policies being conducted by the Biden administration. In the past week, we have witnessed images of the mistreatment of Haitian refugees and inhumane conditions in Del Rio. Many Haitian refugees are seeking asylum from the turmoil in their country after a massive earthquake and tropical storm struck Haiti in August 2021, and the assassination of their president in July 2021. This earthquake itself left over 2,200 Haitians dead and over 12,000 injured. Now, instead of a humane approach towards these refugees and their families suffering, we instead see CBP agents on horseback running after Haitian refugees. 

This shocking imagery is unfortunately just a small part of a much larger and disturbing trend of mistreatment of immigrants by the Biden administration. Despite campaign promises that the new administration’s immigration policy would have humane guiding principles, Haitian immigrants and their families continue to be deported in massive plane flights at alarming rates. The Administration is sending planes full of families to Haiti under Section 42, including children under the age of three, without offering them legal protections and the opportunity to file for asylum. The JACL calls on the Biden administration to end these inhumane practices and to stop abusing the emergency powers granted by Section 42. Our communities have seen how hostility and violence towards immigrants and their descendants are often paired with the abuse of emergency powers granted to government officials in times of crisis, and we can not stand by while it happens again. 

JACL Executive Director David Inoue stated, “The frightful images of border patrol agents on horseback hunting down Haitian migrants are not what I would expect from our country. They are unfortunately indicative of how the administration continues to reject and expel those seeking escape from the political, earthquake, and tropical storm inflicted upheaval that the Haitian people have been experiencing. The government continues to use the inappropriate application of a so-called public health emergency under Section 42 to expel Haitians much like false security threats were used to incarcerate Japanese Americans during WWII. It is long past time to end these racist and exclusionary immigration policies.”

Categories
Blog Events

Oregon Japanese American World War II Veterans’ Stamp Dedication

Stamp dedication for Nikkei vets

Oregon Nisei Vets’ Stamp Dedication

Portland JACL joined other local organizations in the unveiling of this US Postal Service stamp. The program included former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski as Honorary Chair. Tributes included four generations of Japanese Americans and feature vignettes of Oregon Nisei military service portrayed by Oregon Asian Americans.

Watch the event recording here: vimeo.com/543729988

Categories
Blog Events

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month 2021

Happy API Heritage Month! Here are some ways we’re celebrating this year.

Liberation in Practice: Anti-Racism Workshops for Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This May, the BIPOC community is invited to join APANO to dive deep with leading social justice experts and community-based organizations to expand our knowledge of anti-racism in theory, work, and practice.

Portland JACL is honored to work with APANO on the May 12 workshop dealing with the model minority myth. Check out the full schedule and sign-up!

Radical Self-Awareness Flyer

Member Spotlights

We’re also celebrating by spotlighting some of our members on Instagram and Facebook. During the month of May, we will be showcasing our diverse community of members to honor our histories and strengthen our connections.

We’re still looking for volunteers to be spotlighted! Are you willing to answer a few questions about yourself? Fill out our form today!