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Support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act

It’s time to put an end to voter suppression. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would begin to root out racially-driven voting barriers. Tell your representative to act now.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act responds to current conditions in voting today by restoring the full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was last reauthorized by Congress in 2006, but gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
• Following the Shelby County decision seven years ago, several states passed sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately prevent minorities, the elderly, and the youth from voting.
• The bill provides the tools to address these discriminatory practices and seeks to protect all Americans’ right to vote.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act creates a new coverage formula that applies to all states and hinges on a finding of repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years.
• Significantly, the 25-year period “rolls,” or continuously moves, to keep up with “current conditions,” so that only states that have a recent record of racial discrimination in voting are covered.
• States that have repeated and persistent violations will be covered for a period of 10 years, but if they establish a clean record moving forward, they can come out of coverage.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act establishes a targeted process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions nationwide, focused on measures that have historically been used to discriminate against voters.
• The process for reviewing changes in voting is limited to a set of measures, such as the institution of a voter ID law or the reduction of multilingual voting materials – practices that have historically been found to have the greatest discriminatory impact.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act also –
• Allows a federal court to order states or jurisdictions to be covered for results-based violations, where the effect of a particular voting measure (including voter ID laws) is to lead to racial discrimination in voting and to deny citizens their right to vote;
• Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes;
• Allows the Attorney General authority to request federal observers be present anywhere
in the country where there is a serious threat of racial discrimination in voting;
• Revises and tailors the preliminary injunction standard for voting rights actions to
recognize that there will be cases where there is a need for immediate preliminary relief.
• Increases accessibility and protections for Native American and Alaska Native voters.

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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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DOR 2021 + Resource List

On February 20, we partnered with Vancouver NAACP to put on the virtual event Day of Remembrance 2021 “Redress and Reparations: Yesterday and Today”. If you weren’t able to attend live, you can watch the event recording.

Screen shot from webinar recording Day of Remembrance 2021 “Redress and Reparations: Yesterday and Today

We hope you will also join us in continuing to learn more about our histories, movements, and ways in which we can practice solidarity work together. Below are some resources to continue this journey.

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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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Mochitsuki Headliner

Elena Moon Park is a classical trained musician, educator, and producer. She is co-Artistic Director of the Brooklyn-based arts organization Found Sound Nation, which uses collaborative music creation to connect people. She has found that working collaboratively is an effective way to tap the hidden potential of our communities and supports social justice.

Elena was born East Tennessee but both of her parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in their mid-twenties. As a Korean American, she had a limited connection to her cultural background since
she lived in a small southern town with few Asian Americans. She felt disconnected from her Korean roots and has used folk music to explore her own story and ancestral heritage.

Elena Moon Park with kids

Elena will present special New Year’s and Japanese songs for this year’s Mochitsuki event on January 31 at 1pm. Please join us for this live virtual event on the Mochitsuki website.