In a very disturbing trend, we are seeing a spike in anti-Asian attacks, including the shootings in Atlanta and the violent attacks here in the Northern California area and across the country. My affected friends and members of the USJC family have shared with me their feelings of fear, anxiety, anger and sadness. It has been almost ten months since USJC first convened to discuss anti-Asian racism due to the pandemic; unfortunately, recent reports such as from Washington Post’s David Nakamura indicate that hate crimes have “grown more acute amid rising white nationalism and deepening racial strife.”
USJC members like Congressman Takano, Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei, and restaurateur Sakura Yagi are speaking out for our communities. On February 19, Day of Remembrance for Japanese Americans, at the Tri-Caucus press conference, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors, Congressman Mark Takano, explained: “What the AAPI community is experiencing today compared to what Japanese Americans experienced almost 80 years ago may be different, but the root cause of it is the same: scapegoating and mass blame.” In light of growing anti-Asian violence, as well as the continued police violence experienced by Black and Brown communities, USJC reiterates our solidarity with our communities at risk. Our communities are increasingly diverse in race and ethnicity, and systemic racism against marginalized individuals ultimately works against everyone.
I met with the three co-chairs of the USJC Outreach and Allyship Committee to take stock of our progress as an organization in the areas of racial and social justice. We identified areas of progress, and areas for more effort, and I am grateful to have their ongoing advice and support.
Since last summer, USJC has held a number of programs to help share diverse voices from our members on key issues of social justice. These featured a TOMODACHI peer-to-peer series exploring “Critical Conversations” related to race and discrimination. We also supported the “Views from Inside America: Voices from the States” video series featuring Asian American State Legislators sharing U.S. local current events with Japanese audiences. Additionally, personal histories with discrimination have been part of the broader narratives shared in both our Japanese American Storytelling Program and the Japanese Americans and Japan: Legacies video series.
Our organization is dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Japan relationship through people-to-people connections and our mission remains as important as ever. As we continue to confront the challenges of the 21st century, America needs our allies more than ever, while our allies need a strong United States that lives up to our ideals, and this must include protecting all our communities at risk.
*This note was updated on 3/24/21