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Japanese- and Okinawan-Heritage People

In May 2015, at an RC gathering in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, thirty of the International Liberation and Commonality Reference Persons talked about their work. The following are three of the talks. (Others were printed in the July and October 2015 Present Times.)

Hi. I’m Jan Yoshiwara, the International Liberation Reference Person for Japanese- and Okinawan-Heritage People.

I want to take a little poll and find out how many of you are Japanese or Okinawan heritage or have a relationship of any kind with someone who is Japanese or Okinawan heritage. Raise your hands. Oh—that’s great. And how many of you think of yourselves, or would like to think of yourselves, as allies—allies to Japanese- and Okinawan-heritage people? Oooh—that’s so great!

So, Japanese- and Okinawan-heritage people are hardworking. We care about the people around us. We know how to pitch in1 and make things go well for our families and communities. We are excellent problem solvers, and we know how to persevere and take the long view.

In this past period, the United to End Racism2 project at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage3 has propelled the re-emergence of our constituency forward. I’ll tell you why:

In order to do this project, we’ve had to discharge the effects of racism on our families and ourselves. At the pilgrimage we’ve listened for four or five days straight to people telling their stories about incarceration and what happened to them and their families during World War II, and to do this we’ve had to discharge ourselves.

We’ve had to learn to talk openly about RC to four hundred Japanese- and Okinawan-American activists and be transparent about the discharge process and what RC and liberation work mean to us.

We’ve also had to think hard about the no-socializing policy.4 When you’re taking RC to a non-RC event that includes people you went to college with, people your sister played basketball with, people your mom went to church with, you have to think hard about how to build connections in a way that doesn’t violate that policy.

We have to get good at all these things in order to bring RC to our peoples.

The last thing I want to mention is that we have had to challenge our patterns of insignificance. In order to do this project, we have had to face that Japanese- and Okinawan-heritage people are important, that we matter, and that the resource we pour into this project makes a difference both to us and to our people. This has been a huge contradiction to our patterns of insignificance and invisibility.

Olympia, Washington, USA

(Present Time 183, April 2016)


1 “Pitch in” means vigorously contribute.
2 United to End Racism is a project of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities in which groups of Co-Counselors go to non-RC events to share what we’ve learned in RC about ending racism.
3 The Tule Lake Pilgrimage is a biannual pilgrimage to the site of the Tule Lake Relocation Center, one of the internment camps in which many thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.
4 The no-socializing policy of the RC Communities states that Co-Counselors should not set up any relationships, other than Co-Counseling, with other Co-Counselors or with people whom they first meet in a Co-Counseling context.


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