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Support Reparations for Black Americans by Amanda Shannahan

As a Japanese American, I am familiar with the concept of reparations. After my grandmother passed, I inherited the framed letter of apology acknowledging the injustices done to her and 120,000 others of Japanese ancestry during World War II. She also received $20,000 as a survivor of the Tule Lake concentration camp. While in no way did this money make up for the trauma and loss of dignity she experienced, it was still a meaningful step toward healing for her, our family and our community. Black Americans, however, still have not received any form of reparations for 250 years of slavery and continuing systemic racism. It is past due for meaningful action to address the generations of oppression experienced by Black people in the U.S.

Recently, the Japanese American community reaffirmed our support for House Resolution 40, which would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and make recommendations to Congress for reparations. Our community is familiar with a similar body, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, which was established in 1980 and facilitated Japanese Americans achieving redress and reparations. As a nation, we cannot truly begin to heal until we have reckoned with our past and provided compensation for people affected by injustices. The apology and financial compensation received by Japanese Americans like my grandmother was just a first step. Now is the time to support the call for reparations for Black Americans and for our country to continue down the path toward reconciliation.

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Graduating High School Students Scholarship Applications Due March 5

Students who are members or have parents who are members of one of the sponsoring Nikkei organizations by November 14, 2020 are eligible to apply for a 2021 scholarship: Buddhist Henjyogi Temple, Epworth United Methodist Church, Gresham-Troutdale JACL, Japanese Ancestral Society, Japanese Woman’s Society, Nichiren Buddhist Temple, Oregon Nisei Vets, Portland JACL, Shokookai or Veleda. Each organization has its own membership criteria. More than 10 scholarships are awarded annually. Scholarship applications are reviewed by a committee from the Japanese Ancestral Society that includes members from other organizations offering scholarships. Thank you to the organizations, donors and families who make these scholarships possible.

Students or have parents who are members of one of the sponsoring organizations are also eligible to apply for the Henjyogi Temple Art Award, which is a separate application, is due March 5.

In addition, students who are members of the JACL are eligible to apply for the National JACL Scholarship. Entering freshman applications are due on-line on March 1. Application for undergraduate, graduate, law, art and performing arts and financial aid is due April 1.

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Support HR 40 by writing a letter of support to tsuru forsolidarity@gmail.com

What is HR 40?

House Resolution 40, or Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, is federal legislation currently in the House of Representatives. This piece of legislation is a study commission, like the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. If passed, the legislation would form a commission to study slavery and discrimination against African Americans from 1619 (when 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia) until today. The commission would also recommend appropriate remedies for the federal government to take. The commission would be tasked to:

Look at the role that federal and state government played in supporting slavery
Look at discrimination against slaves and their descendants
Look at the ongoing negative effects of slavery on African Americans and society today
You can click here to read the full text of the legislation.

The ACLU has put together more information on HR 40, you can click here to learn more.

Why are we collecting testimony from Japanese Americans?

In mid-February, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is going to have a hearing about HR 40. Congressional members and supporting organizations, led by the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have asked for Japanese Americans — especially survivors of incarceration and those who were involved in the Redress Movement — to write testimony in support of HR40 to 1) inform representatives as they prepare for this hearing and 2) to enter into the official Congressional record, which will be reprinted and preserved for historical purposes.

“What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

You can click here to read “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Japanese American community is a diverse and multiracial community. There are many Black-Nikkei individuals and families who are descendants of enslaved people and who have experienced the ongoing negative effects of U.S. slavery and its aftermath embedded in the racism, anti-Blackness, and structural inequities of U.S. society.

You can click here to read a Washington Post story about a Black-Nikkei family’s thoughts on this topic here.

As the only ethnic group to have received an apology and reparations from the federal government for wrongs committed against us, Japanese Americans have a moral imperative to support the Black people seeking a similar path for a structural remedy. We also have moral authority to stand in solidarity with other communities: especially a community targeted by historic racism seeking accountability and a process for redress and reparations. The violence of slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing anti-Blackness is so central to the history of the United States that we must all participate in the process of repair.

There are lots of questions that are still unanswered about reparations for the African American community, just as there were lots of questions that faced the Japanese American community during redress. HR 40 deserves our support because it creates a legislative process — one much like the one our community successfully pushed for — that will consider many voices and clarify a path forward for repair and the healing that needs to take place.

What should you include in your testimony?

Your written testimony is a statement that will be entered into the U.S. Congressional record as part of the mid-February hearing on HR 40.

It can be of any length, but we recommend keeping it to three pages or less. We hope that it will express your strong belief in support of the creation of a Commission to explore redress and reparations for Black Americans and that you will draw upon your personal and family history as moral authority to make your statement.

Please include the following:

Your name
Your city and zip code
Date
An explicit statement that you support HR 40. (This can be as simple as saying, “I support HR 40.”)
An explanation of why you, as a Japanese American, support HR 40. We suggest you include responses to the following questions:
Tell the congressional committee about yourself! Were you incarcerated in one of the World War II WRA/DOJ camps? Were other members of your family? Which camp(s)? Where do you live now?
What were the short and long term consequences of incarceration for you and your family?
Tell the congressional committee about your connection to the Redress Movement!
Did you or your family participate in a CWRIC hearing? What was the impact of hearing those testimonies?
Why was redress important to you and your family? This can include the apology, the individual payments, or other federal funding like the JACS grant program.
How did the Redress Movement impact the healing of you, your family, the Japanese American community, or the country as a whole?
Why do you support HR 40?
For example, you may want to explain how slavery, Jim Crow, and anti-Blackness have inflicted intergenerational harms on African Americans. You may want to connect reparations for African Americans to your own history as a Japanese American. Or you may want to explain this in terms of our duty to speak out as Japanese Americans. It’s up to you!
Include your signature.
Logistical Questions

Please email your testimony to tsuruforsolidarity@gmail.com by Friday, February 12th at 12pm PST. In your email, please include your name, address, and other contact information so it can be shared with congressional staff if needed.

For more information, please go to www.tsuruforsolidarity.org/HR40

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Biden Combats Anti-Asian Sentiment

Advancing inclusion and belonging for people of all races, national origins, and ethnicities is critical to guaranteeing the safety and security of the American people. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk.

The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin. Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons. These actions defied the best practices and guidelines of public health officials and have caused significant harm to AAPI families and communities that must be addressed.

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JACL Statement on Capital Insurrection

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director dinoue@jacl.org and Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs sbaker@jacl.org.

Today we have seen the culmination of months of seditious rhetoric from the President and his supporters. For too long white supremacy and hate have gone unchecked in our nation; there can be no other word for what has happened today with the storming of the Capitol than treason. These heinous acts, encouraged and supported by our President, should not go unpunished – Congress must immediately begin the process of impeachment and removal of the President of the United States for acts of sedition.

On this day, Congress was supposed to certify the electoral college votes, confirming President-Elect Biden as the next President of the United States. Instead, right-wing terrorists desecrated the Capitol with violence and menacing intent. Law enforcement was not prepared for this situation and their restraint today is in stark contrast to the abhorrent treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors during the summer. What we have seen today at our Nation’s Capitol is not only an affront to our democracy, but it sends a clear message to our fellow Americans and the rest of the world that the United States truly does not value Black lives. This is the epitome of white privilege.

JACL emphasizes the importance and the power of words and calls upon the media to report on the situation accurately. These are not protestors; these are violent white supremacist terrorists. To refer to them as protestors denigrates those who engage in legitimate peaceful protest. Social media networks must also crack down on hate groups that have been using these outlets to openly plan the violent acts that have unfolded today.

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December Newsletter Delayed

The December issue of the Portland JACL newsletter was mailed on December 1. Unfortunately people have just been getting the newsletter on December 28. We are still mailing paper newsletters this month so this was not the official start of our e-newletter. Don’t forget to let us know if you would like to continue to receive the newsletter in the mail with a suggested annual donation of $25 to cover the cost of printing and mailing. You can let us know at PO Box 86310; Portland, Or 97286 or you can go to “Contact Us” on this website.

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Mochitsuki

Everyday for the month of January, the activity scheduled for the day will be available on the Mochitsuki website at mochipdx.org. You can access the video anytime after it is posted. Our only live program will be the music and panel discussion with Elena Moon Park on January 31st at 1 p.m.

January

1 Hatsumode Shrine/Temple Vist by Konko Church and Henjyogi Temple

2 Koto Performance by Oregon Koto Kai

3 New Year’s Card Making by Japanese Women Portland

4 Organic New Onion and Potato Miso Soup from Scratch by Chef Nakao

5 How to Play Go by Portland Go Club

6 Trivia Game: Oshogatsu-Japanese New Year by PSU Institute for Asian Studies

7 Ikebana Flower Arrangement by Ikebana International-Portland Chapter

8 How to Celebrate New Year in Japan by Portland Kimono club

9 Storytelling by Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo

10 Why MOCHI for the New Year? by Takohachi

11 How to Make a 5-Minute Microwave Mochi by Cooking with Mazzy

12 Hariko: Japanese Head Bobber Toys by Lynn Geis

13 Trivia Game: OSECHI-Japanese New Year’s Food by PSU-Institute for Asian Studies

14 Way of the Staff by Rose City Shindokai

15 Tea Ceremony by Nikkei Fujinkai

16 Story Reading: “Thank You Very Mochi” by Paul Matsushima

17 Kids Practice Calligraphy by SORA shodo

18 Ways to Eat Mochi by Konko Church

19 Origami: How to Fold a Kagami Mochi

20 Trivia Game: MOCHI by PSU-Institute of Asian Studies

21 Oshushishushishushi and Okinawa Elsa Fold Dance by International School

22 How to Choose and Cook Tasty Rice by Consular Office of Japan in Portland

23 Taiko Performance by Portland Taiko

24 Children’s Flower Arranging by Wild Children’s Flowers

25 Gyoza (dumplings) by Cooking with Mazzy

26 Sapporo Snow Festival by Portland Sapporo Sister City Association

27 Trivia Game: What is Mochitsuki? by PSU-Institute for Asian Studies

28 Mochi and Art by Japanese American Museum of Oregon

29 Large Brush Calligraphy by SORA shodo

30 Mochi Pounding by Utsukikai

31 History of Portland Mochitsuki

Live musical performance and panel discussion with Elena Moon Park at 1 p.m.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a month to celebrate and honor the diverse histories, contributions, experiences, and traditions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States!

Here are some ideas of how you can celebrate in the comfort and safety of your home:

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Resources for COVID-19 Crisis

General Help

211

Details:  Connects people with health and social service organizations including childcare and parenting assistance, utility assistance, food assistance, emergency management, food assistance, housing and shelter assistance, and health assistance.

Call:  211 or 1-866-698-6155
Text:  your zip code to 898211
Email:   help@211info.org
Website: http://www.navigateresources.net/info/

PDX Covid-19 Mutual Aid Network

Details: A grassroot effort of volunteers committed to assisting communities most impacted by COVID-19. They will do their best to let you know within 48 hrs if they are able to meet your needs.  For financial assistance with both paying and shopping for groceries, please fill out the following form:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdWmeBGnqdX14Q5ihC66u-bYzJ1oaJcigu_Vx44AJPRSoDMtQ/viewform

Meals

Meals on Wheels

Details: Nutritious meals that are delivered weekdays between 10-2pm. Serves senior citizens living in Multnomah, Washington, and Clark Counties.  The cost of each meal is $7.39. Participants are asked to contribute to the cost of the meal.

Call 503-953-8111 or toll free at 866-788-6325
Register online at https://www.mowp.org/

SNAP

Everything is normal with SNAP and benefits will continue to be available on their regular schedule. You do not need to go into a Department of Human Services office to get service. You can call 503-945-5600 to access an application (or you can apply online), submit information or paperwork, report changes and/or to conduct an interview.

Seniors or person with disabilities may also contact the Oregon Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) by calling the ADRC at 1-855-ORE-ADRC (1-855-673-2372) 

You can now use EBT to order food online through Amazon and Walmart for home delivery across Oregon. Please note that there are delivery fees (which SNAP benefits cannot pay for).

Utility Assistance

City of Portland – Until further notice, Portland Water and BES will not disconnect water service for non-payment of sewer/stormwater/water bills. Customers are still responsible for sewer/stormwater/water charges due now accrued during this temporary suspension if you’re facing financial hardship: Call Customer Service at 503-823-7770 to work out a plan.  Apply for financial assistance at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/69504

Northwest Natural– is suspending automatic service shutoffs in the event of nonpayment.  Customers should call (800) 226- 4211 and contact the billing department to make arrangements.

Portland General Electric (PGE)– is suspending non-payment disconnection. If you need help with your bill, please call to find a solution that fits your needs. Here are a few ways to get started if you need help paying your bill:

  • Need more time to pay?: You can request a payment extension 24/7 by logging in to your account or calling our automated phone system at the numbers below.
  • Need more help? Call to set up a payment plan and to get connected with energy assistance programs, if needed. You can call 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pacific Power– is “temporarily suspending disconnections and late fees for non-payment for customers in Oregon, Washington and California to support the state of emergency declared in all three states in response to the COVID-19 virus.” 

Customers can call 1-888-221-7070 at any time to speak with a customer care agent who can help answer any questions

COVID-19 Health Information and Health Care

For questions on the latest developments or how to minimize the impact of the pandemic, visit websites for the Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority

Community members can also connect with 211info or by dialing 2-1-1 with questions about the coronavirus.

For medical emergencies, dial 911.

The main symptoms of  COVID-19 are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Not everyone who is sick needs to be tested. Your local health department or health care provider can help you: 

  • Decide if you need an appointment, and
  • Plan to enter a clinic in a way that avoids possibly infecting others, if you do go in.

Folks can contact the Multnomah County Health Department at 503-988-3674

Reporting Hate or Bias Incidents in Oregon

If you are the victim of a hate or bias incident, please report it to the Oregon Department of Justice at  1-844-924-BIAS (2427). 

The hotline has trained staff available Monday-Friday, who will help victims connect with resources best suited to their needs.” Name calling and racist comments may not rise to the level of a criminal act but they are still hurtful and traumatizing.  

To report incidents of hate or racial bias, and/or to contact an organization for support, click here:  Report Hate

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Asian People Are Not a Disease

March 20, 2020

For Immediate Release

David Inoue, Executive Director
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs


As terms like “Chinese Virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and “Kung Flu” are increasingly used by the President and other leaders in our country, so do we see the increase of racially-based hate crimes and xenophobia against people of Asian descent. While President Trump has defended his usage of these types of terms, as “not racist at all”, the impacts on our communities tell a different story.

Since as early as January, Asian-owned businesses have been seeing drastic decreases in sales, to the point that some have had to permanently close. New York City has seen a significant rise in violence against Asians, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault, including a man chasing an Asian woman through the subway station before beating her. In San Francisco a woman was spit on and screamed at by a man on the street, forcing her to flee to a nearby business to escape further attack. These types of incidents are only going to increase as rhetoric that points the finger at the Chinese, and more broadly Asians, continues to escalate.

Asians, especially East Asians, are being labeled as dirty, uncivilized, and animalistic based on cultural generalizations. Senator Cornyn (TX) blamed the Chinese for causing COVID-19 because of the stereotype of a diet of animals exotic to American palates. This type of fear-based inductive reasoning hearkens back to moments in our history like the Chinese Exclusion Act and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, when people of Asian descent were targeted by our government through racist policies.

People of Asian descent are no more likely to be carriers of COVID-19 than anyone else: viruses do not see race. The negative and in some cases violent reactions Asians have been experiencing serve as a reminder that we are seen as the perpetual foreigner. It doesn’t matter how many generations our families have been here or if we have just recently immigrated, we are continually labeled as “other”. Had COVID-19 originated in a predominantly white country, the story would have looked a lot different.

This harmful narrative that is being divisively used by our government leaders is creating wide-spread hatred and fear against Asians that will have long lasting impacts on our community. As businesses close and racist attacks continue, we call on our leaders to use language that does not cast blame on Asian people. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that impacts all of us equally. It should be called by its scientific name, not a colloquialism that is harming the Asian people.

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The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.