By Grace T., SJPJC Volunteer
On Sunday, February 14, the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee of San José hosted a livestream through YouTube in remembrance of the 41st anniversary of the Executive Order 9066 that placed 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps and separated them from their families during World War II. Not only was the webinar a celebration of Japanese culture through the arts, but also the importance of unification between those who are not seen as equal in our country. The speakers shared their family’s experiences, and showed the need for unity amongst the oppressed. The committee is requesting government compliance with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has a plan for action. They are asking to meet with the Biden Administration and work with Congress to achieve justice for Japanese Latin Americans who suffered from the camps. Reparation for Japanese Americans shows steps towards justice and reconciliation for the country’s utter racism.
Racial injustice is prominent in every community, and this webinar highlighted the similarities between racism targeted towards Japanese Americans and Black people. Connections made between the internment camps and racially targeted police violence towards Black people made it clear that this country is very far from reaching total racial equality. Keynote speaker Reverend Jethroe Moore of the NAACP of Silicon Valley spoke of how defunding the police would be a small step to slowing police brutality. Why does our police need to be militarized? Groups like the National Guard are active in times of emergency. If the fundings towards militarizing the police were allocated to mental health outlets and education, it would better our communities as a whole.
My favorite part of this webinar were the videos of Swingposium. Swingposium is a joyous dance with drums that Japanese Americans created in order to keep their spirits high while in the internment camps. It is amazing how something so beautiful came out of something so horrible. The dance is filled with grace and charm and perfectly reflects the Japanese culture.
The Nihonmachi Outreach Committee hosted a beautiful webinar informing about the importance of our community’s unity and the celebration of Japanese culture. We cannot bury this part of history, but rather take action towards reparation to achieve justice for harm inflicted upon Japanese Americans.
The hosting organization asked attendees to share the petition demanding that the Biden Administration provide reparations to Japanese Latin American internees and their families and to hold the government accountable for their actions.
Click this link to sign onto the petition: https://www.change.org/p/president-biden-please-comply-with-international-law-justice-now-for-japanese-latin-americans