Categories
National JACL Statement

JACL Supports Women’s Reproductive Freedom

On Monday, May 2nd, 2022, an initial draft of a supreme court opinion authored by Justice Alito that would strike down the Roe vs Wade decision was leaked to the public. It is important to note that the right to choose is currently still protected by law and that this is a draft decision from the court. The decision, however, if made official, would overturn the right to choose, protected by the 14th amendment of the constitution under the Roe vs Wade ruling for over 49 years. Erosion of the 14th amendment could then lead to the loss of constitutionally protected rights of individuals including the rights of people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Justice Alito’s draft opinion states, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” This is language similarly used to describe the Korematsu case in an opinion by Justice Kavanaugh in the 2020 case Ramos vs Louisiana and echos a similar repudiation of the Korematsu decision in the Muslim Travel Ban case decided in 2018. Unfortunately, despite the court’s declaration that the original Korematsu verdict was wrong, it has continued to demonstrate its willingness to declare egregious wrongs and continues to trample on individual rights as it did with the Muslim ban. It is critical, therefore, that the court reassess its problematic past decisions to ensure that future declarations are spared from equally harmful abridgments of personal freedom.

This decision comes after many other state-level attacks on the right to choose such as the Texas law that went into effect in September of last year that placed a cash bounty on the heads of doctors that performed abortions after six weeks, which is often before a person even realizes that they are pregnant. Lawmakers in Missouri considered legislation that would allow individuals to sue anyone who aided a person in crossing state lines for an abortion.

The JACL once again reaffirms its commitment to reproductive freedom and the right to choose whether and when to become a parent. JACL highlights that it was 30 years ago that our National Council officially adopted a resolution, titled Family Choice, at the 1992 convention supporting a person’s right “to choose and determine the course of their lives.” JACL also calls on our elected representatives to pass legislation protecting the right to choose immediately instead of holding out on fundamental rights in order to have more talking points during upcoming election campaigns.

JACL executive director David Inoue states, “The language of this draft decision from the court is especially troubling for the implications it will have on the potential infringement of other individual rights. We cannot be a United States of America if not everyone in our nation holds the same rights. History has demonstrated that we cannot leave fundamental human rights to the jurisdiction of the states.”

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
Uncategorized

JACL Condems Passage of Anti LGBTQIA + Laws

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law for his state. Also this week, in Utah, a bill that would bar transgender youth from participating in girls’ sports was vetoed by the governor, only to be overturned by the state legislature. These bills come following a string of similar anti-LGBTQIA+ laws that have been introduced across the country and in several instances, already becoming law. As staunch supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community, JACL condemns the actions of Governor DeSantis and many others who have sought to attack the LGBTQIA+ community through these legislative efforts.

The LGBTQIA+ community, and especially LGBTQIA+ youth, have long faced discrimination and violence, which has caused higher rates of health risks and suicide. JACL has been an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community for many years, passing our first national resolution in support of same-sex marriage in 1994. We have seen so much change in our society in amazing ways to support the LGBTQIA+ community over the past 30 years. To see these new laws taking the nation a step backward is not only disheartening but also extremely dangerous.

We join the hundreds of other organizations and community groups nationwide standing with the LGBTQIA+ community in Florida and across the country who are fighting these bills. We hope that politicians listen to all their constituents, especially those who are directly impacted by these laws, instead of the disinformation and vitriol supporting such discriminatory legislation. The JACL demands inclusion and acceptance for members of the LGBTQIA+ community in order to help nurture our youth and future generations.

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
Uncategorized

House Passes Japanese American Confinement Education Act

The JACL applauds the unanimous passage of the Japanese American Confinement Education (JACE) Act in the House of Representatives on March 15, 2022.

In 2006, the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Program was established for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. This original legislation was introduced by then-Representative Bill Thomas, Doris Matsui, and Mike Honda. Since the first year of funding in Fiscal Year 2009, $36 million has been provided to 268 projects in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Funding has ranged from as little as $5,000 to over $800 thousand for a single project.

The JACE act provides an additional $42 million dollars in funding for a total of $80 million. Of that total, $10 million in funding may be used by Japanese American organizations to implement education programs to ensure that present and future generations of Americans will learn from the experience of Japanese American confinement and our country’s subsequent commitment to equal justice under law. This funding will be used for research and education relating to Japanese American incarceration, and the creation and disbursement of educational materials to promote a national understanding of how and why Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII.

JACL is thankful to Representative Doris Matsui for her leadership in authoring and championing the JACE Act. We are also grateful to Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and the rest of the members of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee for shepherding the JACE act to passage. We would also like to thank the 67 bi-partisan co-sponsors for their support.

We call upon the Senate to swiftly pass the JACE act (S.988) to ensure continued funding to the JACS grant program.

Categories
Uncategorized

Calls to Expel Russian Students Fails to Learn from History

On February 27th, Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) went on CNN and suggested that Russian students should be expelled from the country as a potential pressure point against Russia. Swalwell said, “Frankly, I think closing their embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States, those should all be on the table.”

The JACL would like to remind the Congressman that his district encompasses an area from where many Japanese Americans were forcibly removed during WWII, leading to the disruption and end of college careers. The disruption of promising college careers was one of many traumas inflicted upon incarcerated Japanese Americans that would have lifelong implications. Only in the last few years have universities begun to take responsibility for the role they played in discriminating against Japanese American students during the war whether through expulsion.

Recent years have seen similar attacks and calls against Chinese students and scientists. Actions against students, targeted only on the basis of their nationality, is discriminatory. Where there is reasonable suspicion of nefarious activity, law enforcement should of course take action, but national origin should not serve as the basis for making these decisions.

JACL supports the Neighbors Not Enemies Act to repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798 that gives the President the power to detain, relocate, or deport immigrants from hostile countries in a time of war. This law has been invoked to justify the mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII and could be used to justify Congressman Swalwell’s misguided calls for expulsion of Russian students.

Despite multiple efforts to engage, Representative Swalwell has refused JACL’s request to meet regarding his statement.

Categories
Uncategorized

Scholarship Opportunity for high school seniors and college students

Atsuhiko Tateuchi Memorial Scholarship
· $5,000 scholarship, renewable annually.
· This scholarship is offered to the following types of students:
o Graduating High School Seniors planning to attend an accredited vocational school, college, or university (2-year or 4-year degrees).
o Students returning to school or currently enrolled in an accredited college or university seeking support to continue their degree.
o Students entering or enrolled in graduate or professional degree programs (MA, PhD, MD, JD, etc.).
· Preference will be given to students of Japanese ancestry or other Asian ancestry.
· Students must be a resident of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, or Washington State.
· Must demonstrate financial need.
· Application available on Survey Monkey Apply:
o Students pursing undergraduate or graduate degrees: https://seattlefoundation.smapply.org/prog/tateuchi/
· Deadline to apply: March 1, 2022.

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
Uncategorized

Voting Rights Fails to Pass Senate

The Senate’s inability to pass the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act has left JACL and our community greatly disappointed. The voting rights package, which was previously passed in the House this past Thursday, included key legislation that would broaden Americans’ access to voting as well as cut down on the influence of special interest groups and dark money. It would be the largest voting rights initiative to pass through Congress in over a decade.

Despite this setback, the JACL will continue to fight for the voting rights of all Americans, especially those who are most vulnerable. Asian Pacific Americans stand to lose much from regressive voter exclusion laws being passed at the local level that would reduce access to the ballot box. We refuse to be discouraged, and we will continue to advocate and have our voices be heard until change and reforms are passed that will guarantee minimal voting rights for all Americans. Voting rights are human rights.