BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

February 24, 2020
by blogwalker
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California Speaks Out for Social Justice

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Whether it’s the bully on the playground or our current administration, when small groups of “committed citizens” come together to speak out against social injustices and human rights violations, they are likely to change history – starting with legislation.

In California, February has been a month of  inspiring, “committed citizens” speaking out for civil rights, starting with California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. In alignment with and in honor of California’s Day of Remembrance, Muratsuchi introduced HR 77, a bipartisan bill acknowledging and apologizing for California’s role in our nation’s treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII by its support of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the unlawful removal Japanese Americans from the west coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

“Every year during the years I’ve been in the California Legislature, I’ve introduced a resolution to commemorate the Day of Remembrance, that I know many communities across the country observe to remember the lessons of Executive Order 9066.

But this year I wanted to do something different and have California lead by example. While our nation’s capital is hopelessly divided along party lines and President Trump is putting immigrant families and children in cages, the California Legislature, with HR 77 will be issuing an official, bipartisan measure for its own actions taken that led to the incarceration of over 120,000 loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry behind barbed wire.”

On February 22, HR 77 was unanimously passed.

Note: Muratsuchi called out a number of survivors from the internment camps who joined him for the above press conference. Please visit the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories website (which I co-direct) to learn more about the stories of Marielle Tsukamoto, Christine Umeda, Kiyo Sato, and Les Uchida.

Thanks to an invitation from immigration attorney and dear friend Kishwer Vikkas, yesterday I had the pleasure of joining Marielle at the Tsuru for Solidarity event at Sacramento’s Parkview Presbyterian Church.

The purpose of the event was fold and string paper cranes, with the goal of contributing 125,000 cranes to the Tsuru for Solidarity’s National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps, which will take place during June in Washington, DC.

“Tsuru for Solidarity is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. Tsuru for Solidarity stands on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII.”

Parkview’s community room was packed with Sacramento residents ranging from survivors of the camps and/or children and grandchildren of survivors to community activists and educators, all with the shared commitment to #StopRepeatingHistory.

Photographer Paul Kitagaki captures the Tsuru energy and output.

For three wonderful hours, I tried my best to follow the directions so patiently modeled by those at my table for folding a square sheet of paper into a crane. I watched in awe as the piles of cranes continued to grow. I was definitely the event’s low achiever, but greatly appreciated all the encouragement from my table mates.

Thank you Steve Sasaki for your step-by-step instructions. “No two cranes are the same.”

But I’m not giving up. Today I’m going to purchase a few packs of origami paper and follow the steps provided in Tavin’s Origami Instructions.

I look forward to following updates on the June 2020 Tsuru for Solidarity Pilgrimage to Washington. Many at the Parkview event will be making the pilgrimage, stopping along the way at Heart Mountain and other camps, demonstrating that we are never too young or too old to make a difference.

#StopRepeatingHistory  #TsuruForSolidarity

Sharing the day with Marielle and the Tsuru for Solidarity team.

February 19, 2019
by blogwalker
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Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Today marks the 77th Anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast.

I work in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed. The forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 citizens marked a chapter in our nation’s history when justice failed an entire group of people. To document their stories, colleague Kathleen Watt and I developed and maintain the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

At a time when media literacy is at the forefront of our district Digital Citizenship workshops, lessons, and resources, we appreciated that a Facebook post from @DayOfRemembrance, and the accompanying Never Forget poster (by #StopReapeatingHistory), led us to the Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 website and documentary trailer. This one-hour film, directed by Jon Osaki, confronts the false information and political influence which led to the World War II removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans:

“The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  ALTERNATIVE FACTS will also examine the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government.” AlternativeFacts.com

Alternative Facts Social Media Trailer from Jon Osaki on Vimeo.

We look forward to an upcoming screening of the Alternative Facts documentary. As always, when new resources surface, we revisit our current lessons and resources to decide where they can best extend teaching and learning on issues of social justice.

Alternative facts are not new…but today they are difficult to spot, easier to spread, and harder to control. We are always looking for curriculum ties that will make history relevant to our students. Students would be hard pressed to go a single day without hearing the terms “fake news” or “alternative facts” on social media or in the news. Additionally, they often view history as something that happens in history books, not in their communities. We are predicting that the above resource will connect our Executive Order 9066 lesson to media literacy, and in the process, help students make the connection between what was “then and there” to “here and now.”

With much appreciation to my district’s Board of Education for annually recognizing February 19 as a Day of Remembrance: Resolution #42 – Day of Remembrance.

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