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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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Not Just a Fundraiser

Since 2009, United to End Racism1 (UER) has sent a team of eight to twelve Japanese, Okinawan, and ally RCers to the biannual Tule Lake Pilgrimage2 to teach RC anti-oppression theory and the basics of RC, including how people can listen to each other. In June 2014, the Olympia (Washington, USA) RC Community participated in a Tule Lake UER fundraiser, sponsored by the Olympia Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

I had the idea for the fundraiser for almost two years. I wanted to pull in my friends in the Japanese community along with Co-Counselors in the RC Community but was scared to show that much of myself to them all. I set the date three times, discharging coming up to each date, and we finally pulled it off.3

I wanted it to be a Japanese community event, so I asked the Olympia JACL to sponsor it, which they enthusiastically agreed to do. They made a nice flyer, brought delicious homemade Japanese food, and helped spread the word.4 I asked the Olympia RC Community to help with food and setup but more importantly to bring their friends. The Olympia women’s support group discharged about whom they could bring, and most of them brought someone. Everyone in my class for people of the global majority came.

The organizer of the event, Hisami Yoshida, was a Co-Counselor who is also on the Olympia JACL board. She and I have good relationships with folks in both groups and with each other. We held the event at our local Jewish temple. Susan Rosen,5 who is a leader at the temple, took on6 the role of host. She invited the rabbi, who came and stayed the entire time.

Four elder Niseis7 who had been incarcerated during the war or had attended the pilgrimage were on a panel. I asked them questions about their wartime experiences that allowed them to show themselves to each other and to the group.

The audience and the panel members did two mini-sessions, one before and one after the panel. I first explained how to do a mini-session and why listening to each other helps us heal from hurts. I also proposed questions for the minis: “What is your relationship to Japanese American incarceration?” for the first one, and “What did you think about what you heard from the panel?” for the second one. The RCers spread out in the room to do minis with the non-RCers, including each of the panel members. The elders had been so honest and compelling, some people cried.

On each table where people were sitting we had put some of the UER handouts that we use at the pilgrimages, along with donation envelopes. The end of the program was the scariest part. I said that we were raising money to support the UER team to go to the pilgrimage and that people could leave donations in the envelopes.

After I got home, I opened the envelopes and totaled the checks. Three times. We had collected $1,206. About thirty-five people had been at the event, most of them not RCers. One person had put a hundred dollars in cash in an envelope and not written their name. All four of the panel members had written checks. I was overwhelmed. I called Lois8 for a session and cried really hard.

I think this was a mini-UER event, not just a fundraiser. We got to share pieces of RC theory and practice with our friends and family members. We were proud to show them what we do in RC and UER, and our perspective on more openly using RC shifted. I was terrified about bringing Olympia RC and JACL folks together to work on a common project, but I think they liked each other.

LATER

In the last two weeks, I have collected five more checks from friends who couldn’t make it to9 the fundraiser. Now we are up to almost fifteen hundred dollars. The Olympia Japanese American Citizens League is so proud of sponsoring the event that they want to do it again next year.

Today at the farmers’ market, I ran into10 a woman of color who’d been brought to the fundraiser by an Olympia Co-Counselor. She said she was impressed by what we are doing with United to End Racism and wanted to learn how to listen to people in the way that she saw us listening at the fundraiser. We talked about fundamentals classes while buying vegetables at the market, and she decided on the spot11 to join my global majority class.

I can’t believe the ripple effects of this event—well beyond raising money. I totally get12 why the Re-evaluation Foundation13 has been encouraging RCers to raise money one to one. It’s about connecting with people. I also understand now that people do want to give money to projects that are meaningful and hopeful.

Jan Yoshiwara
International Liberation Reference
Person for Japanese-Heritage People
Olympia, Washington, USA


1 United to End Racism is a project of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities in which teams of Co-Counselors go to wide-world events and bring RC tools and information to activists working to eliminate racism.
2 The Tule Lake Pilgrimage is a biannual pilgrimage to the Tule Lake Segregation Center, one of the concentration camps in which the U.S. government interned Japanese Americans during World War II.
3 “Pulled it off” means successfully accomplished it.
4 “Spread the word” means publicize it.
5 Susan Rosen is an RC leader in Olympia, Washington, USA.
6 “Took on” means assumed.
7 A Nisei is a person born in the United States or Canada whose parents emigrated from Japan.
8 Lois Yoshishige is the Area Reference Person for South Eugene and Springfield, Oregon, USA, and is one of the leaders of the UER team at the Tule Lake pilgrimages.
9 “Make it to” means attend.
10 “Ran into” means encountered.
11 “On the spot” means right at that moment.
12 “Get” means understand.
13 The Re-evaluation Foundation is a non-profit corporation that collects and disburses resources to help get RC ideas, skills, and leadership training to people whose circumstances limit their access to RC.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00