Monday, December 22, 2008

Year of the Ox “Ushi no Toshi”

January 26, 2009 - February 13, 2010

In an Ox year
It will suit us well to think collectively
Act tenaciously
Work hard.
Whether it is country,
Community or Tribe,
Great challenges face us.
If we see others as our Neighbors,
These times give us
Great opportunity to grow.
Ox years support physical work
And the personal sacrifice required
To take care of
The Earth, family and community.
Trust, the strength and resource will be there!

I apologize to the former eighth grade Spanish student of Katherine Gorham who painted this picture of the Ox for their Holiday Card project. I did not get your name. Thank you for letting me purchase the cards for an ox year.

To all my friends who take the time to read TBAsian, thank you! I hope your holiday is safe and
relaxing. Have a full and happy Ox Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WW/ Questioning US Tribal Lists

I used to be brainwashed and take for granted the existence of a Federally Recognized Tribes list without questioning, "Does that mean that there is a Federally UNrecognized Tribes list?" And if so, what happens to the tribes of that list? The answer is there are thousands of unrecognized tribes, especially in the west, CA, OR, WA, Alaska. It is the nature of the wars and treacheries of the US expansion period to take without consideration tens of thousands of human lives and violate cultures for land. In our time, to keep such a list as "federally recognized tribes" is a continuation of the colonialist attitudes and policies which fueled the "wars against humanity" which our US history calls "westward expansion" in the first place.

The Winnemem and other tribes are tribes because they have always been from the beginning of time. They are recognized by other tribal people from all around the world. They are recognized by the Land they take care of and which take care of them. They are recognized for who they are by anyone who comes in contact with them, or by people like us, who choose to follow their way of life. They are recognized by the UN Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous People. They are recognized by their Maker, the Creator of all things.

And yet, the US government carries on a policy which would allow one list of tribes to access the short list of treaty rights and, in doing so, create another list of tribes which get nothing except broken promises, poverty, injustice. I can only speak about the Winnemem, that in spite of all this, the people carry on the best they can. But there must be many more, the Chinook of Washington, for example, the Wanapum. In California, 90 percent of the historic tribes are unrecognized! Only 10 per cent are on the US list of recognized tribe with access to funds for college education for their children and health care for their families. Federal law gives only 10 percent of the California tribes a place at the table to be consulted about land use regarding possible sacred sites and environmental impact. The land lost by the Native peoples of California are rich lands, rivers, mountains, providing a basis of an economy which benefits the whole nation. On the flip side, there are dire consequences for this "productivity" in California as their rivers and river deltas dry up, land becomes overused, the salmon endangered, water table endangered. The tribes who know this land on a cell level and who believe that they have been given voice by the big fish to speak for the land . . . only 10 percent of them have been given the authority by law to speak at the table -- and it is without a doubt important for the whole country that tribal voices are represented at any discussion for preservation of sacred lands and the environmental impact of development.

Why, then, a list of recognized tribes? Why create the concept of "unrecognized tribe." I'm thinking the expansion must still be going on and with the same attitudes. It's a violation of human rights by any standard. This time, expansionist interests are water, the minerals, free reign to all that is left and these interests motivate a government to limit the number of tribes that would have the "lawful authority" to give input about protecting sacred lands and environmental impact studies. This expansionist view creates the egregious government policy of impoverishing a tribe into extinction by non recognition which causes a government to "lawfully" refuse healthcare, limit the future of the next generation by blocking access to college education. It is this expansionist view which gives government the bureaucratic caste system to "lawfully" interfere with tribes trying to carry on historical cultural traditions, and silence them about the very sacred lands central to their lifeways.

The UN Conference for the Declaration of Human Rights for Indigenous People opened my eyes to the fact that "recognized tribal status" is not a worldwide concept. Not all countries use that kind of governmental authority over indigenous sovereign peoples. It is an American bias. That being the case, it becomes incumbent on Americans -- immigrant or tribal -- to correct colonialist attitudes of government and stand up for restoration until all the historic tribes have been restored (until federal recognition has no meaning). I had not realized when Granny first took our family under her wing what an education I would get -- a parallel education to everything I learned in public school, from civics to science -- and the education I got from Granny, her people, her ceremonies, her sacred lands, and continue to get from Caleen Sisk Franco fills in all the little blank spots we don't have enough information to question in the first place.

So, once again, I am asking of all of you kind enough to read my blog to please heed the call of Head Man Mark Franco and send in a petition to their CA Senators who are too busy with the confusion this country's been stuck in for the past eight years, too busy in Washington DC to correct a terrible wrong done to a tribe for over a hundred plus years in their own state of California. Please help nudge Senators Feinstein and Boxer to sponsor a Winnemem Restoration bill and ask them to work hard for its passage even without Congressman Herger's vowed non-support. The gentleman from Shasta Lake City area does not consider Winnemem his constituency, but other members of the House will fill the vacuum and stand for justice if he will not. The Winnemem should be on the radar as "part of their constituency" for Boxer, Feinstein, Herger. Perhaps, with petitions for Winnemem Restoration flooding into Boxer and Feinstein's offices every day, when the Winnemem make the next appointment with their Senators and fly across the country, the Senators Boxer and Feinstein might be able to spare the time to speak to the leaders of a sovereign California tribe who have sacrificed a lot for their State's prosperity and asks only for promises made to be fulfilled. Justice. Certainly that is the worthy work for any lawmaker of this land.

Here are the addresses once again for your convenience to send petitions. If you'd like more information, i hope you check out the Winnemem Wintu Road to Justice blog listed on my favorite blogs:

Senator Barbara Boxer
(202) 224-3553
112 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510-0505

Senator Dianne Feinstein
(202) 224-3841
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

For more information on the petition drive, to get copies of the petition, please go to the Winnemem Wintu website:

And "The Winnemem Wintu, a Journey to Justice" blog at:

Thank you!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

WW/ And They Were Told to Tell the World and the Good People of the World Will Listen

It has been over 20 years since our family went to Winnemem for help, and found such support and friendship with the Winnemem Wintu tribe. Back then, I remember Granny and her people were trying to get back on the recognized tribes list. By some BIA clerical error, they had been dropped and had been told they had to start all over again, and only an Act of Congress would correct the BIA error. This is in addition to not being recognized as a treaty tribe. The Winnemem leaders signed the Treaty of 1881 brought to them by the official representative from Washington DC in good faith, with assurance from the official that it would be ratified -- and, the tribe was never notified until decades later that the Congress, with urging from the President, had chosen to ignore the Treaty of 1881 and did not ratify it.

It's been a long and twisted road to Justice. I am excited that this year, restoration of tribal status seems closer than ever. The California State Legislature just passed a joint resolution, August, 2008, supporting restoration of the Winnemem Wintu. Now it must go to the federal level for that "act of Congress" that the BIA informed the Winnemem they would need to be restored and for their own clerical oooops to be corrected. Back in the 90's Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell tried to introduce a bill. It didn't make it out to the floor before he retired. During the passage of time, each precious Winnemem elder had passed on, and the responsibility has fallen into the next generation's hands -- the last generation to enjoy the ability to go to college as members of a recognized tribe, the generation of young adults who saw their elders turned away from clinics because they suddenly lost their tribal status. During the passage of time, a new leader succeeded Florence Jones, leader for over eighty years. Caleen Sisk Franco

Florence Jones had brought the ceremonies above ground with the first Freedom of Religion Act. Her ceremonies were known all over the country by the time I met her. Hundreds of people came for blessings, for balance, to learn, for doctoring. The tribe, although they had lost control of the sacred lands, had a relationship and understanding since that first Freedom of Religion Act to continue the ceremonies as they have been from the beginning of time. Caleen was being trained from a young age through the time she was a college student earning a degree in education, on through her time, married to Mark Franco, mother to both Michael Preston and she and Mark, parents of Marin.

Before Florence Jones passed on, Caleen and her husband and children left their homes in the city and moved to the ranch to take care of Florence and her elderly daughter, the ranch, and to continue Florence Jone's legacy of taking care of the Winnemem spiritual way of life. It's not an easy life on the ranch. It's not an easy life to succeed Florence Jones, Indian Doctor, Ceremonial leader of eighty years.

The newly appointed Forest Service head of the McCloud River region is an example of what is difficult about succeeding a leader who had been the leader for over 80 years. The Forest Service head decided to interpret the relationship between the Winnemem and the Forest as only with Florence Jones, and with her death, all agreements were null and void with the tribe. I suppose as a way to hammer that point in, she changed the lock on the gate to the doctoring place, and cut down the sacred Manzanitas going up to the ceremonial ground. It is an uphill battle for the successor as Winnemem Chief to get the recognition and respect as leader from a government when that government hasn't remedied so many errors of the past with the Winnemem in the first place. However, as the leader, Caleen just keeps going on. She prayed for the trees. She spoke to officials. She continued the ceremony at the doctoring place. and one thing more. She also brought back the "coming of age" ceremony because her daughter had just come of age. She is not daunted. She just stays the course. The new Forest Head responded to the request to the "coming of age ceremony" with NO!

A year passed and Caleen and Mark's young daughter was another year older. Working both in the political arena and praying, with help from the new head's supervisors, the decision was finally successfully turned around and the ceremony was to be allowed. However, the new forest head refused to close down the river for the four days of the ceremony. Jet boats, house boats, alcohol, a campground full of campers, all of that would be allowed to go on while a tribe brought a young woman into her womanhood -- she on one side of the river, praying, listening to the elder women, hiking to learn the plants, to find her own cooking rock, and the people on the other side, praying, singing, preparing the feast, getting ready for the celebration to welcome her on the fourth day, when she and her assistants swam across the river to join the circle. Is that a do-able scenerio? Alcohol and prayers? Youth swimming across the river and jet boats? Clearly the ceremony and the "recreational use" of the river were not a match.

We started a campaign in Oregon, and other supporters also applied pressure that the ceremony would go on as it should and safely. The supervisor overruled the forest head and the allowed the ceremony to proceed on the McCloud, but ruled that the government could only institute a voluntary closure for the ceremony. A video has been made of that historic "coming of age" ceremony called, "The Ceremony Comes Home" and it shows that a voluntary closure does not work. It meant the 10 percent who refused to honor the closure came to heckle, to drink, to "raise hell" at the ceremony. Finally, the sheriff was called by a Forest Service official present at the coming of age ceremony to close down the river on the fourth day. The hecklers even disrespected the official's authority and lightly hit his kayak and raced away, leaving him behind.

The Coming of Age ceremony is not the only tradition Caleen has brought back. When the attacks on the Sacred Lands became more and more apparent, she realized her people had to be strong. When the BOR pushed through a plan to raise Shasta Dam higher without any attention to the Winnemem's concern for the drowning of Sacred Places (being unrecognized, they were not taken into account), without concern for the farmers, without concern that it is possible the dam would not stand the weight of fourteen feet heighth of cement on top of it, it became very serious. Rather than back off from the hard job which faced her, Caleen listened to her spirit, her heart, and called for the War Dance to return, a dance which had not been done for 100 years. It's not something easy to do. First, how do you make a sacred fire, an arbor at the dam site? All those who had witnessed a war dance were gone. How do you know what to do? Caleen's people prayed at the sacred places, prayed hard with pure hearts. They asked for help, to be able to help their people. And assistance came, through dreams or at ceremony, the help came.

The War Dance took place at the site of Shasta Lake Dam in September, 2004. I still remember the Sacred Fire being lit the evening before. A crowd of people had gathered, some out of curiosity, some tribal people, conversing. Caleen called for the war dance to begin. The fire tender made the fire, the old way, without a match, paper or flint. He caught the spark made from his bow in a ball of dry grass. When the ball burst into flame, the crowd of onlookers became hushed. The fire tender carefully added the small twigs, then the manzanita carefully. The fire was to go on for four days and nights. Caleen sent out her prayer to the world. She had been told to tell the world about the Winnemem, and the good people of the world would listen. Below us, we could see dam towering across the river. This was the place where a river, a sacred river, has been attacked, the big fish no longer can swim here. The Winnemem's homes, their cemetary were all under water and many of their sacred places only came up once a year. Raising the dam would put them underwater all of the time. The dam would not help the fish. The dam would drown the sacred places and destroy ceremonies. Ethnocide. The dam could cause a Katrina level disaster if it did not hold. The people named for this Sacred River, the Winnemem, however, were still here. They were still doing the ceremonies, and they were bringing the old way back.

I'm not going to blog much about the war dance because words don't accurately portray what took place during those four days that the war dancers danced all day and much of the night with no food, little water, and very little rest. But I will say this. The first morning, after the prayer sent out to the world, a guest showed up, an Ecuadoran Medicine Woman with her host, a woman originally from Mexico who was a delegate to the International Delegation to write the Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Medicine Woman said she thought there might be something happening here so she asked her friend to bring her. Later someone excitedly drove up and said, look at this! He had pages of names of newspapers and wire services who had picked up the story of War Dance at Shasta Lake Dam printed by the local Shasta Lake "Record." -- AP, UPI, the Guardian, the Asian equivalent of the UPI. I called my husband that day and he told me that the piece he had put on his website about war dance got 1000 hits that day. The good people of the world will listen!

I do know this leader and the Winnemem people. They will always be Winnemem. They have never stopped. They will always think Winnemem. With Caleen as their leader, they will always pray and take care of the Sacred Places and keep their ceremonies going. They will bring back their language and dormant ceremonies one by one as they are needed. They do not quit. Why do I write this today? Well, today, I read one of my favorite blogs, Winnemem Wintu, Journey to Justice. And today, Head Man Mark Franco has posted a piece asking for assistance to get the attention of Senators Boxer and Feinstein to introduce and support the Winnemem Restoration Bill. Mark works tirelessly in the most dibilitating arena -- the political arena. The work takes a huge physical toll. He does this on top of all the other responsibilities around the ranch and with Caleen to keep on top of what is being done to the land, to keep the ceremonies going, to keep the village going. If he takes the time to write this post, I do hope that his effort bears fruit.

Please copy, print, sign and send the petition as the Winnemem are asking supporters to do. The Winnemem will always be Winnemem, and they know there are many, many good people in the world who stand with them but it would be right if a little justice comes their way. Thank you and many blessings for all the support and help you can give for restoration. If the Winnemem are restored, the tribal members in their 50's won't be the last generation to have support to go to college. There's so many young ones who justly should have that opportunity. Their people will have health care again.

And they will be recognized and respected for who they are, always have been, and always will be, a historic tribe. So I am asking of all of you kind enough to read my blog, to heed the call of Head Man Mark Franco and send in a petition to their Senators who are too busy with the confusion we have wrought in the past eight years to correct a terrible wrong done to a tribe over a hundred years and more. The Winnemem should be on their radar as "their constituency." With these lists of names on a petition flying into their office every day, perhaps, then, the Senators Boxer and Feinstein might be able to spare a couple of minutes.

Senator Barbara Boxer
(202) 224-3553
112 Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510-0505

Senator Dianne Feinstein
(202) 224-3841
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

For more information on the petition drive, to get copies of the petition, please go to the Winnemem Wintu website:

And "The Winnemem Wintu, a Journey to Justice" blog at:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Old Enough to Talk about Christmas Back Then

The other day, my friend Janice from Warm Springs reservation was sharing her insight having heard on the news that with the economy spiraling downward, family celebrations would be deeply affected. She said on the reservation, it would be another Christmas like all the other Christmases. Of course, she and her husband George, would be delivering packages to families and especially elders to make their time easier. However, holiday cheer has not changed so much from the simple days when they were young parents and their son and daughter were little children. Quite another story for many Americans. Holidays have amped up in extravagance, influenced by technology, and by new "traditions" like Black Friday, the maxi-shopping day after Thanksgiving and the media bombardment of new gifts to tantalize our children. In lean years, it really dampens the holidays for families.

She remembers that each child got one gift under the tree; there was sledding, hot chocolate with the family watching Charlie Brown's Christmas together. Christmas was a family day not so much a gifts day. For Janice, and many on the reservation, hardships are hardships but holidays will not stand out as especially hard as long as the family can have cocoa, sledding and time together.

I remember when I was a child growing up with my little sister with grandparents, mother, two bachelor uncles in one house. My Auntie Grace, the youngest, was also there before she went off to college, the only child to make it to college since my uncles and mother were caught in high school during WWII and all the curfew rules and laws against Nikkei. Mom and we two moved into the multigenerational family when she divorced her husband. We don't know dad much. There were no visits, inquiries after us. Divorce in those days was serious. I have since met his youngest sister, her husband, and their daughters and sons, who are our cousins, and like them very much -- enough to just let that part of our shared family history go and form a new relationship just with each other. Divorce was rare, so we've always been raised by mom to be grateful to our family for taking us in and loving us despite the stigma we carried in with our suitcases.

As children we have the fondest memories of those days, protected from the tough truth the adults faced. The adults always hide the hardship from the children. We had a roof, good food our family grew and preserved after each harvest. We knew where food came from -- hard work. We saw the gardens, the fields. An electric fence separated us from the cow, and there was a pen for pigs and chickens ran all over. We were surrounded by adults and never got away with anything -- and that's called love. We certainly were not neglected.

Before we went to bed on Christmas Eve, we would set out cookies and a little glass of milk for Santa. Grandma made the best sugar cookies with what we called "plastic frosting," hard gem colored sugary frosting which made cookies look so special. Grandma would hang for each of us one of her long stockings before "nylons" were invented and produced for the masses. Grandma or Momma would fill them with oranges, ribbon candy, Brazil nuts, walnuts, filberts, and tie them to our iron bedstead at the foot of the bed Mom, Marti and I shared, some time while we girls slept. Those long stockings which looked like brown pythons just after they swallowed prey were the first thing we saw Christmas morning.

I remember we got one special present from the family. Despite the little ritual we did with Santa, I'm not sure I believed he brought the present. Christmas was not a gift extravaganza, and children and adults were equally celebrated. The extravaganza part was the "ogochiso," the feast. Grandma and Mom always cooked up a storm, Japanese food and American food as they called anything not Japanese. I don't remember much of the food -- but I do remember "osushi," "omanju," sweet potatoes, beans. At a young age I really didn't like meat, so I'm a bit clueless what kind was served. Perhaps, on a holiday, I didn't have to eat it. I do remember fruitcake. I was part of a family who actually liked fruitcake. My guess is they thought being American, they had to have fruitcake and like it. I think I was "most American" in the family though because I absolutely hated it.

After we moved into town, and just lived with the grandparents and mom, being teens, we added things. Moving into town meant events and school and church were the center of activity. At that time caroling was added, Christmas parties, Christmas service, but it's the simple family Christmas on the farm when we all lived in close quarters that I remember the most.

The big winter holiday for our family on the farm and later, off the farm, was not Christmas. It was New Years. Our closest Nikkei neighbors in Marsing, on our farm, were the Kaneshiges and the Yamamotos, and later the Nakanos. That meant around New Year time, we would go to feasts at each family's house. Oshogatsu lasted for days! School would start, and we were still celebrating, riding the school bus and getting off at another family's stop. For New Years, each family cooked New Years food which, unlike Christmas, I fully remember because each food had a meaning we learned, and each food has a story behind it -- like when I was four and my sister was two, Uncle Bill getting my little sister to chase me with the tako (octopus) before it became the delicately sliced dish and still dangled from her hands with tentacles spilling this way and that, lumpy and scary.

Where do people homesteading what was once Idaho desert get octopus, squid, fish, Japanese ingredients? One of our most treasured visitors, because on a farm, all visitors mean excitement, was Mr. Kanetomi who drove his delivery truck clear from Ontario, Oregon, to all the Japanese farm families. Kanetomi's was the only Japanese store in the Boise Valley, Treasure Valley region. We would run out to his wagon and he'd let us clamber in. We would breathe in the smells of dried fish, shoyu, and accept the treat of "ginger candy" before Grandma would come out and shoo us away so she could fit in the truck to shop.

For New Years, we always had a whole fish -- tai, it's head and tail curved upward for good luck. We had a whole chicken to represent family. We had orange kan ten (gelatin cut into attractive shapes) -- a lucky color. There was Osushi with eight things rolled into it == for blessings. We had nishime, root vegetables, shiitake mushroom, bamboo and each thing meant something. The bamboo was strength, the kelp rolled and tied with a kampyo braid is the family staying together, lotus root, happiness, shitake, strength. It was a dish we ate because we had to as children. We always had what our family called maze-gohan (aka chirashi-gohan) which was mixed vegetable rice, and what our family called okowa (aka sekihan) which is azuki beans and sweet rice -- our red beans and rice. There was tempura shrimp, octopus sliced thin, sashimi sliced thin. There were rice fingerfood formed into a fan with a sliced round red shoga (ginger) red sun; some formed into a matsu (pine) with a sprig of parsley placed in the center, and some formed into a blossom, sprinkled with pink shrimp flakes. There was a dessert we called bota mochi (aka ohagi) with sweetrice in the center covered with red bean paste, or "an." I loved this dessert so much! I remember Grandma making the "an" an arduous process which took hours. Now one only needs to buy a package.

The week before Oshogatsu was one of my favorite "arduous" preparations. Grandma would soak the sweet rice kome over night and steam them in layers of bamboo rounds. When the steamed rice was ready, she would run it outside where the men waited in the tin roofed shed. We used a tree stump which had been hollowed out to hold a nabe, or pan in which Grandma put the steaming rice. Uncle Bill, Grandpa, and Uncle George would take turns then pounding the rice until it became a mass. While they pounded, rhythmically, Grandma, who knelt beside the stump, would quickly turn the rice mass over during the upbeat. You can see why we loved this ceremony. It was so satisfying, the rhythm, and the perfectly choreographed movements of the men and grandma.

When the "mochi" was ready, grandma would scamper with the nabe holding the smooth, rounded bread dough like mass into the house with us trailing behind her. The table was already prepared, oilcloth, cornstarch powdered on it. The big sticky mass of mochi, still steaming, would be placed on the cornstarch. Grandma would wet her hands from a small bowl of water and deftly squeeze from the hot mass, balls of mochi, and drop them quickly on the cornstarch before it could burn her hands. My mother and probably my aunts slightly rolled the sticky ball in the cornstarch, scooped it up into their hands to pat and massage them into round shapes. I loved watching this.

Mochi is so important for New Years. First of all, we fix it for our ancestors. We place it before their pictures on our home alter. I think the picture was of my Great-Grandpa who my Uncle George resembled, but now, we all have pictures of our issei grandparents. The decorative mochi, "kazari mochi" is made of two large mochi in graduated size topped with a mandarin orange with leaves. One of the hardest things about living in Eugene is that although the leafy oranges are sold everywhere for Christmas, suddenly no oranges can be found in time for Japanese New Year. We've all done our best to educate the grocers here, but finding the mikan with leaves is always a crapshoot.

Everything that happened on New Year set the tone for the year. So we had to clean the house before New Years so the year would not be dirty. We didn’t work or clean on New Year’s Day so the year would not be full of drudgery. Most of the food was cooked before New Years for that reason too. Absolutely no arguments. My sister and I had a hard time with this but we tried harder. Later when we became older we learned all bills are to be paid before New Years too. As children, our family never ever bought on credit so that was not an issue.

Mochi was our special breakfast early New Years morning. We woke up early (so we wouldn't be lazy all year) to a special breakfast of ozoni -- mochi in a tasty clear broth with something green, red trimmed fishcake slices for luck, strips of shitake for strength. I loved the feel of mochi in my mouth as a child. Ozoni is the ultimate comfort food.

Later, that day, we could have mochi in a soup of "an" or mochi toasted with a shoyu and sugar glaze rolled in soybean flour. Yum! Mochi, mochi, mochi!

I still remember, as an adult in Eugene, Oregon, going to the Bijou to see "Tampopo" back in the '80's, when it came to town. Everyone was talking about this "must see" art film of pursuing the perfect bowl of ramen. Debbie Osato and I sat in the darkened theater, the only Japanese Americans in a full house. I mention this because it is significant to my story. In the middle of this movie, there is a scene which is unforgettable to most JA's. An elderly man is eating "ozoni," the Japanese New Year's breakfast I was telling you about. In Japan you can have ozoni anytime! You can see the "mochi" he picks up from the broth with his "ohashi" or chopsticks, oozing strings of its luscious gooey goodness we so love to feel in our mouths; you could almost smell the brothiness. Right at that moment two distinct sounds filled the theater. A loud moan of yumminess escaped from Debbie and me, "MMMMMMM!" We couldn't help it. It looked so good, and we were virtual exiles in Eugene treated to "ozoni" only if we travel home for New Years. "MMMMMMMMMM!" At the same moment we said "MMMMMM!" the whole audience in unison let out "YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK."

It was the weirdest experience! We had a short but loud giggling fit. Our Eugene moment. Debbie thought up a t-shirt slogan after that. I'm from "Hakujin, Oregon" (Hakujin meaning white people). In the movie, the elderly man who really shouldn't have been eating ozoni collapses with mochi stuck in his elderly throat and his grandson goes running for the vacuum cleaner and hose. Apparently his grandpa does this often. We can absolutely understand this addiction. I will NEVER give up ozoni no matter what it does to me!!
Well, it's happened again. JA's can talk only so long about being JA and it eventually ends up on the topic of food. My friend, Richard Lin, pointed that out. He's married to a Nikkei. He told me he liked the Japanese gatherings more than his own community's because everyone always ends up talking about food. At Chinese gatherings, he said, everyone always ends up talking about business, but "you guys, it's about the food." Richard and I laughed, but I've found that it's true! Here I am, started out about Christmas in times of economic stress, old time Christmas, Santa Claus, and BAM! food -- oooooing and ahhhhing over food and even confessing I'd risk my life for food. It IS all about the food!

Snow Day

It snowed today. It was real snow -- an Idaho snow where temperature stays low and keeps everything frozen and nothing melts. New snow falls on in icy layers. The danger of this is that the people here are not Idahoans. I stood in front of the picture window wondering if I should try making it up the hill, and saw two people fall on the sidewalk. Nope. Not walking to mom's today. Driving? The danger of driving in Eugene are Eugeneans. No offense meant, but rev'ing is not how you get uphill and sitting behind the wheel of an SUV does not mean you have better traction, and you can't stop at the intersection here on Jefferson unless you're working on stopping all the way down.

Will said he'd give me a ride to mom's. Southtowne is a hill over from us. I gladly took the ride because he's a Rhode Islander and, sorry, it's left over from my upbringing only on snow days, he's a guy. At the top of the hill was an LTD bus pulled to the side. We pulled over. Other cars kept on going, then stop at the crest, and then go into reverse, sliding backwards. Eugene. Eventually, men bundled in coats, hat and scarves formed a line across the street at the top of the hill waving their arms to stop traffic. What were they thinking. That's what those little triangle thingies are for so that a truck sliding sideways doesn't wipe out a row of men.

We weren’t going over that hill. Will did the chains to drive off into a side road while I stepped out to watch for vehicles for him. With drivers like these, it's a good idea not to be kneeling down by the side of the road.

After chaining up, we inched down the side road and around to the other side of the hill. We looked up the hill to see what had stopped everyone, and just down from the crest was a milk truck sideways, smashed by a truck. It could have gotten pretty ugly if traffic did not stop, and no wonder the cars who passed us, backed up so quickly.

This is my second day, being dropped off at mom's and spending the day at Southtowne until Will picks me up at 1 pm for his lunch at home. It's nice just hanging out with the oldsters. The first day we were entertained by a brave soul who drove carefully over from Springfield to play his harmonica, guitar, and wail his cowboy yodeling songs. Mom sang her style with him. A cowboy/Little Richard kind of duet. Today was restful. Mom napped. I'd wake her for a walk around the building looking out all the windows at the snow. Then she would take another nap. I took out my book and settled down on her commode beside her little bed while she snuggled under her fleece blanket with holly design. I could hear the activity in the hall.

Barbara, who must have been a writer of gothic suspense in her younger days, and who now speaks in her gravelly, dramatic voice from her wheelchair to whomever will listen was saying, "Would someone please help me!"

A med-aide came by. "How can I help you, Barbara?"

"I need to go to the ocean."

"It's too cold for the ocean. What else can I do for you, Barbara?"

"Then you can kill me!"

"I can't kill you either, Barbara. That would not be something I could do."

"If I can't go to the ocean, I might as well die, because I cannot see my Sweetheart?"

"Who is your Sweetheart, Barbara?"

"It's Marie!"

"Where is Marie."

"She's waiting for me in the ocean!"

I like to listen to Barbara. She has many scenerios. She used to really bug the men at Southtowne. She'd roll up beside them, and say out of the blue, "Your wife will leave you and your children all hate you!" She grows on you.

While I spent the mornings for the last couple of days at Southtowne, I decided maybe this is what we do in the winter, hang out together inside. Mom loves her rides, but sometimes, rainy days, snowy days, we might as well just stay in and go with the flow. Snow does that. Slows everything down to a normal pace. All those things that humans invent to be busy, all those meetings for events, meetings for new goals, meetings to meet stopped all over Eugene in a winter moment. We are a one snowplow town caught by surprise. Stopped cold! It was exactly what Will and I needed. I needed it surely, hanging with mom, coming home, and cleaning the house, doing the laundry, attending to piles which had grown while we invented busyness.

Another snowstorm is coming in tomorrow, mixed with freezing rain. Nothing is going to thaw so the ice sheet will remain underneath. Just got a call from Wilma, 90 years old, saying she is not stepping out of the house to drive to the potluck Thursday. And the potluck was canceled. I had wondered about that. That's how you get to be 90. You don't have to wait for a call to know when to stay in from the weather.

By the way, we're grateful for the snow and the snowpack. We humans had our turn to pack the days with meetings, events and hanging together. The elders always did say, get up with the sun, go to bed when it's dark, and stay in when it's cold. It's just normal.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Countdown to December 10

Wednesday, December 10, is the 60th anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights. This morning was the last organizing meeting and things are coming together in a "here and there" way. The "Winnemem Way of Life" video will start out the celebration, but who will introduce it? The Native American Law Student Association participant, Erin, is in the middle of her finals. The Juventud Faceta youth have finished their video on the Human Rights Article regarding torture. We all looked like pleased aunties watching their finished product. I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate how very cute we thought they were -- despite the seriousness of the topic. We were very proud of them.

The mariachi band* is ready. The Cantor's prayer is a go. We need to find out the name of Robby's drum. We always called it "Robby's Drum" but I'm sure that's not it. All of us nervously eyeballed the program. Are our organizations listed? Spelled right? Did our piece get listed in the program?

Tonight I tried to get ahold of Anselmo. Did he do the poster? Marcy is busy finishing the Winnemem one, the lettering, photos of ceremony. I've put the historical documents, the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples, Most Asked Questions." Just in case, better be prepared for the PACAlliance poster. YIKES! Can't find the file for Campaign for Justice. Quick SOS email to Christine Oh, Portland who sends me lots of attachments. I love email! Typing away, "RENDITION during WWII!"

Did you know about the Rendition Tradition of the US of A? I didn't. The many stories of JA's during WWII keep being disclosed one by one. Here's one for you. Between December, 1941, and February, 1945, the US government financed and planned the kidnapping of 2,300 men women and children of Japanese ancestry from 13 Latin American countries for the purpose of prisoner exchange. They were unlawfully imprisoned in the US without due process until the end of the war. More than 800 of them were exchanged and sent to a country in the middle of a war. The US gave monies, grants, sort of, to countries who complied with incarcerating or sending their Japanese population to US prisoner of war camps -- even though the Nikkei were not part of an enemy country.

More than 350 Japanese Latin Americans remained in the US and eventually became legal permanent residents thanks to the ACLU and naturalized citizens. They should have been covered by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided compensation to each JA deprived of liberty during the war. It gets weirder. However, the US argued they were "illegal aliens" at the time -- since the US had confiscated their passports while they were still on the boat. Odd that their argument is based on a human rights violation.

A person I greatly admire, my friend Grace Shimizu, says "With our legislative efforts, we hope that the US Congress will grant such redress as is commensurate with the scope and severity of the constitutional and human rights violations: including kidnapping; indefinite internment without charge, trial or legal representation; hard labor; putting civilians in war zone through hostage exchange; ongoing failure to provide redress. These are violations at the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity." It is Grace who put the name Rendition on this shameful page of WWII history.

Representative Xavier Becerra introduced the Japanese Latin American Redress Equity Commission bill in 2007 in the House and Senator Inouye introduced it in the Senate. The hearing on HR662 was cancelled. It had been scheduled for July 31. The committee parliamentarian for the Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties ruled that the bill was in the wrong subcommittee. HR662 was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law chaired by Rep Zoe Lofgren (San Jose district) who says there is no time for a hearing. We ask supporters, especially those who reside in Lofgren's district, to urge her to make HR662 a priority by scheduling a Subcommittee hearing. Please sign the petition at

It's almost midnight. Erin just emailed she would be happy to introduce the film and happy to be a part of Winnemem Support. Robby's drum is Spirit Hawk. Found a bad typo on my JLA piece. Anselmo hasn't called yet.

This is Eugene's style -- all these groups weaving something together. We cannot do anything separately. There are not enough of us in each of our communities. All of us are parts of each others' struggles but each of our organizations for one day, December 10, seem to be 30 separate groups. I guess that's a good thing.

*Mariachi band was organized by the Springfield High School band teacher, Chris Holt. It is the only high school mariachi band in this area. Chris is one of my students from Madison Middle School. I am so very very proud of him for forming a mariachi band, to see the possibilities, to encourage the next generation's leadership, to make school fun. He is a great teacher! The Mariachi band has been invited to play in Disneyland.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

WW/ Winnemem Way of Life, Water

I've posted several stories about the Winnemem. Now that the CA state legislature has passed the joint resolution to support Winnemem Restoration, we are now moving to the Federal arena. There are roadblocks ahead, but all can be circumvented with your help. Will has made a short Vimeo clip "Winnemem Way of Life, Water" that I am excited to share with all of you. The power of video is you can see and feel rather than just read words. Please check out the clip AND check out Head Man Mark Franco's blog, "Winnemem Wintu - The Journey to Justice" listed on my favorite blogs.

The Winnemem Way - Water from Moving Image on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Curtis Choy Films

I love film. I especially love independent film and now, working on a grassroots level film festival where although tasks may be divided, everybody ends up doing everything, the excitement about the films become even greater.

Curtis Choy, director and filmmaker, of several independent films is now in Portland. The first Curtis Choy film I saw was about author, playwright and Asian American movement icon, Frank Chin. The title "What's Wrong with Frank Chin" slapped me in the face. Frank is a controversial figure. He used his considerable influence to make or break people. Who he trusted, who he respected and who he didn't was very public and everyone had opinions about it. So a title which just put that out there and the enigma of Frank Chin, I had to see it.

The film festival, the first DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon, started in a small room as part of the Asian Celebration, an all volunteer, pan Asian event going on for decades which draws tens and thousands to Eugene to the Convention Center at the county fairgrounds. I was busy working the pop booth with my students, and couldn't see most of the films, but I couldn't miss this one.

I'm not going to say much about the film because for those of you who are within Frank Chin's huge circle of influence, who cannot help but be touched by his work, irritated by some of his very public slash and vent about other artists, and love him when he walks through the door no matter what, I don't want to ruin it for you. I will say that the film leaves Frank Chin exactly who he is, but just more. I'm buying it for me for the holidays.

Last year, DisOrient was in it's second year in a real theater and not part of the Asian Celebration and now a four day festival with its own identity. I had become an excited fan the first year of the four day festival at a theater and by DisOrient 3, I was part of the organizing committee. That year Choy sent in his film "Watada/Resister." The film was shot split screen, a phone call between Watada at Fort Lewis and from Frank Emi's home in San Gabriel, CA, the outspoken Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, who may have been a conscientous objector and Paul Tsuneishi, who was part of the MIS, Nikkei soldier serving in the Pacific Front.

Like many Nisei, who joined up or were drafted from concentration camps while their families remained behind barbed wire in middle of deserts or swamp areas for the duration of the war, Mr. Tsuneishi is a veteran of a unit which was kept secret from the mainstream until relatively recent times, that Nisei were in combat, served as translators in the Pacific and credited for their role in bringing the war to an end more quickly.

Another unit, the 442nd, a segregated all-Nisei combat force fought with valor through the decisive battles of Europe -- opening up the Gothic Line, rescuing the Texas Battalion losing more lives in their unit than the number of soldiers they rescued from behind enemy lines, and the liberation of the French village. I can't remember the name. It always slips my mind. But our Uncle Sak was there, and returned with other elderly 442nd veterans to that place by the invitation of the French citizens to see the place once again where they lost so many of the young Nikkei buddies, many in the late teens and early twenties.

I just said the film was simply shot, a split screen of a phone conversation between Watada and the Nisei -- a resister, a c.o. and a veteran, but there was nothing simple about what the film accomplished. The importance is that it answered the question WHY. the layers and layers of why Lieutenant Watada, a "sansei" third generation Japanese American risked his career and decide to be the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. Was he just not American enough? Choy's film puts that to rest. Watada's careful study of the war, his deep commitment to his Constitutional duties, his adherence despite all things to Duty, and like most "sansei" his "on" or deep unrepayable debt owed to the generations of ordinary heroes from that touchstone moment for Japanese Americans -- WWII and the camps -- all of this led him to his decision. Like most sansei, Watada respects both 442nd and resister, and there is no contradiction. One must, simply, live by what is right. Our familes know that. Some families were torn apart -- one brother enlisting, knowing that he's joining a sacrificial battalion, the other standing up for his Bill of Rights and refusing to be drafted in. And for this young soldier, Lieutenant Ehren Watada, he had followed one choice after September 11 and that led him to the solitary decision he must make to make a stand for the Constitution, a legacy of the other choice. Learning what he learned, believing what he believed, he had little choice but to refuse leading men into battle which would constitute a war crime, and instead had to lead, by example, a resistence to an unconstitutional war, an attack on another sovereign nation.

Now, the Obama Presidency has even led President GW Bush to his "exit interview" where he admits his biggest regret is the war. He wishes he had "better intelligence." (Wow. A Freudian Double Entendre! I like that.) Better intelligence -- like the information that the rest of the American people and Lieutenant Watada had access to? I couldn't help hearing that pitiful part of the interview without thinking of the tens of thousands of American dead and horribly wounded, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the rubble of their historical world legacies and their country, the hundreds of war resisters whose lives and their family's lives have been ruined and. Of course, I thought about Ehren, his tour of duty over last year, his responsiblity finished and yet who still is at Fort Lewis, waiting to be released. The federal court has ruled that any further trial would be double jeopardy. And yet, he must wait. The end of the Bush regime gives me hope there will be justice of Lieutenant Watada. And having met the young lieutenant, I know that at the forefront of his mind, however, is justice for the families and the non-commissioned soldiers who resisted and whose sacrifice Watada always pushed forward in his speeches as graver than any he has made.

Curtis Choy is submitting "Manilatown is in the Heart" this year. I went on the website and became excited when I saw one of the film's subjects was to be Al Robles, poet and another Asian Pacific American icon from back in the day. I see him every year at Tule Lake. He plays tunes on the piano, reads his poetry at open mic' and lifts the spirit. I am always happy to see him, this cool Filipino guy with a halo of white hair, colorful shirts and a glowing smile like he's remembering something wild -- which he is -- like when a well known monk walked into his house from the street, into his kitchen and cooked him a feast and announced he would be moving in with him and did -- and Al did not know him at all. How did I hear the story? I said, "Hi, Al!" and instead of saying hi back he focused in, and told me this long story, while this older nisei woman standing by me peered up at him suspiciously, and shook her head like he was nuts. But, she didn't go away. She stayed for the whole unfolding story waiting for the point and gave a little growl and shuffled away when he finished . . . and of course, there was no point except the under message that life is full of wild mysteries and ain't that grand! I cannot wait to see Curtis Choy's film and what it reveals, the layers it reveals of Al Robles and others of Manilatown. Check out Check it out for holiday shopping and treat yourself to a good film!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interrupt and Instruct

I was asked by my friend Carmen Urbina to be part of a think tank regarding school harassment to talk about sharing with other teachers how to interrupt harrassment. This morning I woke from one of those dreams that start something that you have to finish. It must have been connected to an invitation by my friend Carmen. In my dream, I was dealing with a situation of harassment so real it woke me up thinking. My mind was busy as I went step by step and wouldn't let me go back to sleep; rather I slogged down the hall in my slippers to get on the computer to blog my thoughts as they revealed themselves to me. So if this rambles, I blame it on my dreamlike state.

To get to my dream incident which I will describe later, there are steps, beginning from the first day of school. On the very first day, the only time all year where I will draw from my great authority as a teacher, I do spend time talking about the class and setting up the environment. These are the points I always share:

*I welcome them

*I call roll with attention to pronunciation and remind students that, I believe it was George Bernard Shaw said that there is no sound more beautiful than your name said correctly.

*I convey my excitement being their teacher for what I will learn, and we will accomplish together. I let them know my credentials and what we will be learning and that I am enthusiastic that they will be adding to the body of knowledge we call English or History or Literature.

*I invite them to the adventure of learning English, writing and history

*I introduce Rhode Island Plantation’s founder, Roger Williams and his description of democracy which was different from the New York Dutch colony’s Governor Stuyvesant’s view. He said, "In a democracy each person will be able to share their deepest differences with civility." Williams had definite strong opinions and would travel miles on a river just to have a respectful and passionate conversation with someone who completely disagreed with him. It is said the first boatload of Jews who came to America in the 17th century came to New York colony. Stuyvesant pointed out an area “over there” and told them they could set up their homes but they would not vote or run for office. They were free, of course, to practice their religion in their own homes without harassment.

The second boatload of Jews came that century to Rhode Island Plantation and were told by Roger Williams they could build their homes and there was land for their temple also. They could vote and hold office. The first temple still stands in Newport, Rhode Island. Like all temples there was a trap door right behind the alter for quick escapes should the temple be attacked. And to this day, that trap door has never ever had to be opened. That is the kind of democracy we will be training for in this classroom where each person can come in bringing in their whole self and express their deepest and differing ideas in civil conversation because ours is a nation made up of people of the whole world, all faiths and cultures, and differing points of view, and the respectful sharing always gives rise to creative, powerful exciting ideas, solutions and projects.

I tell the students right on day one that we are going to BE democracy because without training for it, we can't keep it, that the great scholars and experts of democracy and history say that the public school is the key for maintaining a democracy. It's an important charge for teachers AND students. In this class we will share our deepest differences with civility and create a place where each one will be part of the learning AND part of the teaching. My job, I will insist on it, will include coaching for respect and democracy. We will make sure any thought and behavior which would interfere will be addressed.

I will share with them this truism. If a person is teased about what they wore that day to school, what bump popped up on their face, what is their favorite music, their race, language, religion,
culture, do you think they're going to share an idea? join a conversation? If people witnessed teasing over differences, will they dare to raise their hand to speak? You see how disrespect for any reason will kill learning. The study of literature and history is about the human stories and would not be too fun if I as the teacher carried the full load of imparting ideas by myself, in front of this room and students only listened and wrote answers to questions so I knew they are listening. I prefer we grapple with the ideas together, learn the facts and turn them this way and that and really understand them through doing and share our stories, and we come up with projects which I have learned by the way, springs from my students rather than from me. Students have the greatest ideas about what projects this community needs.

Then I will share how we will look at any topic, issue, theme. We will use the metaphor of the 5-corner intersection, and study multiple perspectives. I've already posted the five basic principles of multicultural learning, copyright Bettie Sing Luke, on “TBAsian.” And I use the 5 corner intersection in the first days of teaching. I have put “Columbus’ voyage to the Americas” at the hub of the intersection and defined five different perspectives of the voyage:
1) perspective of Columbus and the monarchs; 2) the Taino peoples who were enslaved and forced to gather gold; 3) Bishop of Spain de Casas (who criticized the voyages as inhuman)’ 4) the people of Africa (the voyage set began the slave trade); 5) the indigenous point of view that this was the beginning of worldwide invasions and colonization.

But as my mind whirred on this morning, I thought what could the math teacher say about multiple perspectives, using the 5 corner intersection. I don't know math very well having avoided math requirements my whole college career. But I'll share one story.

Tony Brown's journal had a guest who was a scholar of Dapo. He told us about an African nation contemporary with the Greek Empire which developed a language system from which math is derived. The Greeks took only a piece of this system, which the world knows as mathematics, but in actuality it served as a special language used to explain how things should be, a code of behavior. For example, the Pythagorean Theory, A2 plus B2 equals C2* becomes teaches about what it takes to raise a strong family if we were to see the whole picture created by the original Africans who created the language of math to discuss a code of behavior. A is the father who is the backbone of the family represented by a vertical line. B is the mother who is the foundation of the family represented by a horizontal lined which joins A. Where they join and the angle they form is the family. C is the children represented by a diagonal line touching the free ends of the vertical and horizontal line.

A strong family is formed if the father learned from a father how to be a father A2, and a mother learned from a mother how to be a mother B2. If this is the case, children will grow to be strong children C2.

Of course, we already know, that this idea can also make a strong table. Applied to things, as math can help us do, the Pythagorean Triangle instructs us how to build anything strong. But the whole story is such a fundamental truth that no one can forget it. I shared this story with my language arts students just because it was so interesting. I still remember Lindsey Durant, confident, blond bangs covering her bright eyes, her posture absolutely erect blurting out "Wow! I could have really understood math if I heard it that way!!" It made me think, I wonder how true that would be for other students, like myself. Other students spoke up, many females. That gave me the insight that maybe if some of these stories could be shared in math, and by sharing interesting facts and stories about math, maybe some students who struggled with math might respond. If I were a math teacher, I would bring up these stories from many ways of thought throughout the curriculum. I understand the burden that math teachers have, needing to stay on schedule, but it takes just a little time to warm up the audience with a story.

Science teachers? My secret ambition is to have been an English literature and writing/history/science teacher. How I would love to teach science within a “relationship” framework. In my life, mainly from the Winnemem, I have learned another way to look at biology. For example, what about water? How do we look at water?
As a biology student in public school I learned how to categorize living things. I learned about the earth in a separate class from biology which was plants and animals. I learned something, I grant you that. But I also learned a point of view which was too limiting for me in my adult lifeway.

When I listen to my Chief and Spiritual Leader talk about Nature there is a dimension of intimacy about it which is so different from the scientific objectivity which is cultivated. We are part of water and water is part of us. That is not a romantic idea. That is real. We human beings are mostly water. And we have great impact on water with our actions and choices. The question is framed differently. The Winnemem biology is "how does one preserve the earth since the earth takes care of all life and what role do all living things play in this reciprocal earth relationship?" I have learned how everything works together how all the waterlife serve to purify water, how the fish purifies water, how the ancient big trees and their root systems draw the water level up, how everything which lives in water and around water serves a purpose so fresh water can be preserved. An environmental scientist also has a point of view of water. From the perspective from space we can see how much of the earth is water -- but of that water, how much is drinkable? All of life which depends on river, stream and spring water is limited to the tiny capillaries, and only a small percentage of these small capillaries is drinkable. In other words, these perspectives can be brought together, many perspectives, to teach science students who for the most part are raised to think about living things and their usefulness to human beings. What do the children need to know if they live in a culture where water pours out of a faucet anytime you turn it on? Yes, water can be captured and harvested but science can teach how does one preserve it to children have never visited a spring as a water source to see how vulnerable they have become they -- the spring and the human being -- have become.

*within the first two weeks, I will ask the students to do a project which is really about sharing their family and themselves. First of all, this project invites each student to bring their whole self in. Also, I coach them on respect and the correct way to share self, and learn about others, how to present confidently and listen respectfully, how to acquire knowledge about another by listening well rather than by questioning relentlessly.

The whole school has done cultural fairs, which is this exercise on a grand scale inviting parents and community, a school showcase. But this can be done in a small way. One way I have used is a discovery box which goes along with a book in which a youth discovers their own family stories and cultures through an adventure and learns to accept themselves. I’ve used Jane Yolen’s “Devil’s Arithmetic” or Laurence Yep’s “Child of the Owl” as the book. And I invite everyone to do a bit of discovery about their own culture and family heritage by bringing a box of things which stand for stories and feelings. Everyone wants to see what’s in a box. So in a circle, when we share these many and diverse boxes of all shapes and sizes, everyone is ready to listen and learn. Every time we do this exercise, there are people in the circle who are descendents of long ago enemies. We’ve had in the same circle, a descendent of the Red Baron, and an US veteran of WWII, a descendent of Jesse James, and a descendent of a law officer, a descendent of both sides of a war in Turkey. It’s interesting to see right in front of our eyes that war/hate/enmity is a temporary circumstance.

If I were a science teacher I would do which I learned in a workshop, an exercise which opens our eyes to our "green neighborhood" no matter where we live -- in a suburb, on a farm, in the city, in a metropolis.

I would ask students to draw their neighborhood and home to share with one another tomorrow. I would coach respect of home, to become a person who enters a home with respect rather than narrow viewed judgment. Everyone’s home, even the palatial homes, can be judged lacking. It is up to each human being how they enter any place. After they’ve been busy drawing for a few minutes, I ask for their attention again and demonstrate sharing my drawing.

I hold up a picture of my house and natural neighborhood. I would be a little more than midway up a hill. A river courses to the north of us going toward the wetlands close by. I would draw in the giant fir trees, the ferns and bushes indigenous to the area, the camas, all which grown in our backyard and front yard. The squirrels, both brown and grey squirrels, the raccoon family, the flicker, jays, sparrows, finch, all there, and the invading starling. The bees are there, and white butterflies. A doe and two fawns/yearlings hang out in the backyard. I would draw in the small stand of incense cedar to the west of us and the north of us. I would draw the stream which goes to the river and lies just due north.

Where do I live? I ask holding up my drawing. Some will guess, in a woods, in the country.

I will tell them that I live on Jefferson Street. The freeway literally dumps onto Jefferson. It is a relatively busy street lined with houses, and close to city center. Of course, they are surprised. I tell them I want them to look at their neighborhood and home through other lens to draw their home within an earth centered concept. They will need to discard their first drawings and walk their neighborhood tonight and notice, where is the waterway coming from which is captured in pipes and buried underground? what trees grow? what animals share the space? what direction is the river from my home? and come to share it.

Now this leads up to my dream. In my dream this tall boisterous student snickered and made a comment of “little brown people.” In my dream, I stopped the class and said, remember on the first day when I talked about this class as being a safe place to share ideas to add to the great body of knowledge about history and literature. This comment does not add, it detracts because it trivializes a people. Do you understand? . . . . Great! The moment is a teachable one for all of us, not just one person. One does not need to nail the person each time.

If the comment is directed toward another person in the class, “Stop! Show respect, please.”

If the comment is racist, homophobic, sexist, “Stop! I’ll see you after class. Language of that sort is not allowed here. It’s wrong.”
When we are by ourselves, I would tell the person how that comment made me feel. I would ask “Do you have problems about _________?” They will deny they have issues and say they were just saying it because of something else. I will say “you need to be clear about your message because otherwise people will think you are ______ist. Just be clear and tell the truth, that makes me angry, that’s not fair, but don’t use a ____________ist word.”

If the person says instead that he believes he has a right to be _______ist, I will say, “that may be the case, but in this class and in this school there is a basic expectation of civility.” ___________ism is not ok. Just like any other quirk or style, there are things you can do at home but you can’t bring it to work or church, the synagogue, or to your grandparent’s house. You cannot bring ________ist attitudes to school. It’s a good skill to learn. At the same time, you should know that you will be judged by those who witness this and you might consider if you really want to lose the respect of others who might not say anything to you, but are thinking that you don’t know enough to do the right thing.

If the student shows remorse immediately, I will praise the person by saying, I respect, just as much as I respect the person who stands up to those who harass him/her well, and I respect those who stand up when others. I also respect the same degree the person who may have stumbled but gets up to do the right thing. I’m proud of you. How will you show by action your true thoughts next time?

In my dream I asked if there were others who would like to share this young man how his words made them feel and several came up and formed a circle to do so. In my dream, I knew some were people who were doing it just to impress the teacher, but it didn’t matter what the reason because it is what they do which counts. Practice makes perfect.

As a teacher, I have used a circle of peers for serious incidents in another room. In fact, I wrote about it in my post titled “David.”
Unlike the dream, the peer circle comes later on, after the environment is established, after respect is made to be an expectation, after everyone brings their family into the circle, after practice and coaching of how to interrupt harassment, when students are ready to speak and know the words to speak to demand respect and stand up to harassment. The goal is to interrupt harassment AND, I would add, instruct. To instruct is to make it not one student’s problem but a class opportunity to learn -- why we don’t harass and disrespect, what to do if it happens. The perspective is “we are in the same boat and we’re working on this together, helping each other out bad day or good.” Interrupt AND instruct.

*Thank you, Steve Wake!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

Save the date! DisOrient Asian American Film Festival will be from April 16 - 19 at the Bijou Cinema Arts on 13th and Ferry in Eugene. You can't miss it. It used to be a Funeral Home and still has that look. That causes awkwardness because so many Asians would rather not hang out and watch movies where people have held funerals. But I understand it was a theater first, then a funeral home and now a theater again. It's the only independant film theater in town and close to the UO campus which makes it easier for the students to come.

Let me peak your interest:
HP Mendoza and "Fruit Flies"
David Bowles "White on Rice"
Curtis Choy "Manilatown is in the Heart"

If you aren't excited yet, you definitely must come. I've seen each of the director's films in past DisOrient Film Festivals -- HP and "Colma the Musical" for DisOrient 2, David Bowle's "Big Dreams Little Tokyo" for DisOrient 3 and "What's Wrong with Frank Chin" DisOrient 1 and each film grabbed me. I wait in anticipation for each new film. I'll write more later but I'm very distracted with responsibilities currently -- including helping to raise money for DisOrient -- and not able to have quality time with the laptop. But I wanted to put the date out there for all you independent film fans.

DisOrient is a jewel of a film festival -- four days of great films you can only see at big film festivals, quality guests from the industry sharing with the audience, just as they do for the big festivals with one great exception. In Eugene, the theater holds about 100, and it's very intimate. You have the opportunity to talk one on one, break bread together, even build a relationship if you keep coming back. The industry people have become "family" corny as it may sound. The feedback is that they like the grassroots feel of DisOrient where it's community people from elders to little kids involved, multi racial. Our parties may not have the glitz but it's filled with people, food and starts out with the Lion Dancers and ends with awards ceremony with a Sweet Life cake at Cozmic Pizza ala '60's Eugene style. One word about the guest presenters -- the directors, filmmakers actors, producers. I remember the years of the Asian American movement where artists, writers, taiko drummers and activists traveled up and down I-5 and everytime they stopped, it became an event, a time to party and network. Many of us are still in touch with each other. I'll never forget the generosity of our movement artists and political icons. The new filmmakers of independent Asian American film have that same spirit. They dedicate their whole life to their craft, they're very true to themselves, generous spirit, they come into town and mentor the next generation and make family. I totally became hooked at DisOrient 1 and by DisOrient 3, I who hate to ask anyone for anything, went place to place and asked for and raised $18,000 in less than two months. I am amazed how transforming LOVE can be. There's a lot of Love with DisOrient.

I won't lie. It's hard to be one of the organizers. There are at least three clashing philosophies on one small committee, but the festival is worth the struggle to get along. for every one of us. Every year I've worked I've thought next year I'm just going to enjoy the festival and not volunteer, then September rolls around and . . . well, you've got to work if you want it to happen.

Filmmakers out there -- Call for Entries is happening now and the form is available on our website or on "withoutabox." The correct mailing address for films and forms is on "withoutabox" and should be corrected by now on the website. I need to ask Will what the address is and will post it when I find out. Early deadline for submissions is December 12 and late deadline is January 2. Spread the word! Submit your film! and Save the date!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Real Lesson Around Prop 8

Dear brothers and sisters of the GLBTQ community, allies and families and all interested in justice,

If any of you are drawn to the statistics of African Americans voting for Prop 8, I'm asking you for a little of your time. I'm feeling a lot of discomfort at an all-too-easy pat and catchy analysis of Prop 8 presently thrown around by pundits and by people being interviewed, (beware of the reporter with leading questions because they love this one) about the irony in Black people voting yes on Prop 8. Agreed, it's a neat little package. But it is too pat, and too off the mark. It is a racialized package. Not useful.

Check out DisGrasian "Blaming the Black Voter." The statistics about Black voters are useless for determining why Prop 8 passed. The Black vote did not carry Prop 8. The statistics on racial ethnic demographics are only useful to underscore the work that needs to be done in each and every one of our own communities.

The demographic which voted in Prop 8, is a religious/belief system/upbringing demographic. That's how it breaks down. It goes across every cultural and racial lines and is in every family and friendship circle. We must look at it that way. It points to the work which must be done in ALL our communities across racial and cultural lines. All of us are from families who grew up with frightful moral, religious attitudes regarding same sex marriage, and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ways of life. All of us belong to communities where a lot of work must be done. It's a situation where "the opposition" is very likely to be someone in our own family, church, at work, our friend. It's personal.

In other words, this is the time to educate, network, bridge and mobilize. It's about the work to make people understand this is a justice issue, a human rights issue beyond one's belief systems, upbringing and church doctrine. It's not a struggle where we can target the segregated South, for example. To lean too heavily on the irony of the statistics of the African American vote does not get at the work which has to be done -- especially the scope of the work, the intimate personal nature of the work for each and every racial, ethnic demographic. One would wish it could be as easy as targeting an ethnic group, or a region. Nope. We have to talk to Uncle Joe and mom and Pastor Smith and our best friend. Using the statistics game is not a useful strategy. This time, math and statistics will divide us.

I have to say at this point that I have learned from my Lesbian sisters who are people of color that there is so much work which must be done in both their communities, so many conversations which must happen. The double oppression they experience is real and I can't help feeling that the "how wrong it is that the African American community in CA don't understand the irony" must be feeling really uncomfortable for every Gay, Lesbian, Trans, Bi and straight person of color for many layered reasons. I know I feel uncomfortable. That's why I must say something because I would hope with the hard work ahead of us (I am concerned about the abuse of the initiative process to bring down hard won successes in Oregon, for example), that we get on point and not get off track. Racializing is off track. It is a (subconscious) strategy to distract us from the uncomfortable work of having to have that talk with favorite Aunt Em and around the water fountain with our own colleagues, with our best friend and the pastor. Eyes on the prize and let's get prepared for reporters with leading questions. Said with love, Misa

Friday, November 7, 2008

Out of Step

I dropped off my rent money for the Q Center. There are 25 of us who pledged to pay $23 month to keep the Q Center open and I forgot. I feel so ashamed. But now it's fixed in my brain and every new year, I will send in my check for $276 and if I don't I hope my friend Carol Horne will thump me on the head again.

The Q Center is very important for us. It is part of the justice network of this town which grows stronger. A lot of work comes out of the Center. Gay Pride, an event which draws hundreds to Alton Baker every August is one. And this year, more than any other group, Basic Rights of Oregon, a coalition which formed to bring Domestic Partnership into law last January and bring about reform for equal protection within all State institutions for veterans and GLBTQ community played a major role in electing people and defeating bad measures. Some of the BRO people went down to California to help defeat Prop 8, an initiative which overturns the law which recognizes same sex marriages. BRO people came down I-5 to Eugene to help canvass and work for our mayoral race to re-elect incumbent Kitty Piercy who calls herself with pride "mayor of all Eugene" and means it. That race was very close, too close. It took a couple of days to become official. Were it not for BRO I think there would be no victory party locally.

So, today, as I dropped off my rent money, I am reminded that California may have been part of the great celebration which placed Barack Obama into presidency, but was very out of step when it came to equal protection under the law for all Californians. The initiative process turned ugly. There are forces who abuse and misuse the initiative process to roll back hard won civil rights legislation. The GLBTQ community and their allies, however, is a well organized, highly skilled political machine and they will not be stopped. I have learned the mobilizing power is in the alliances and that the alliances cross state lines.

I've been reading DisgrAsian and Angry Asian Man blog sites so I know that in my community the younger generations of Asians in California were working on their parents to change old attitudes and get them to vote NO. So many of our communities, communities of color, have so far to go. On the one hand, we are victimized by racism and exploited for our labor. On the other, fear and ignorance prevent us from recognizing the justice struggle wherever it may be. Until the late 60's, for example, we Asians were unable to inter-marry. We could not choose our mate. It was against the law. But our community cannot come together to make the connection that it is just as wrong that gay and lesbian partners cannot legally choose their mate. I am saddened that the huge turnout for Barack Obama partially led to the defeat of Prop. 8. That must be addressed by each one of us now that it is known. It was not just the Black vote that elected Obama; and it was not just the Black vote that passed Prop. 8. Read the numbers on DisgrAsian's blogsite on my favorite blogs and it's "mathed" out for us. Every community had a hand in the victory of President Elect Obama and the defeat regarding Prop 8 and we all have work to do.

So I join all my Asian brothers and sisters in doing the necessary work right at home with our families and communities.

I still remember back in the 80's when women of color and White Lesbian sisters had that hard conversation about racism. It was inspired by a visit by Audre Lourde who wrote about the double oppression felt by a woman of color -- with her lesbian white sisters, and within the community, in her case, the Black community. It was a tough conversation, everyone speaking the angry truth they've never spoken before. Lot of tears. Later that spring the film, "Gods Must be Crazy" from South Africa came, a big hit in the US. It was a deliberate ploy by the South African government to break the world boycott of South African goods -- a very successful boycott. We formed a boycott line in front of Eugene's only indie film theater, the Bijou, and saw many, many friends and neighbors cross the lines to buy a ticket and enjoy the show, the noble Bushmen who worship the coca cola bottle which dropped from the sky, the crazy revolutionaries who couldn't steer their jeep straight. I don't get the attraction but then I've never watched it. That's the thing about boycotts for me. Once I start, it's hard to break the habit. The Bijou held the film over, something out of the ordinary for them. The rains started. Rain, rain, rain. Needless to say our line became very small, and then one day, our lesbian sisters came with hoods and umbrellas and stayed. They stayed with us night after night as long as the film showed in Eugene. Something happened for those of us who stood on that line and it happened for life. Ok. Our Lesbian sisters took a stand on racism but what about our homophobia?

I remember some of the things I held on to, divisive semantics -- culture and race is different from sexual preference. Racism is different from homophobia. I don't know when I let it go. It's one of those step by step things. A big part of it, my students and our beloved daughter Josina freed me from it. One cannot teach long in a middle school without seeing that line drawn clearly between right and wrong. Homophobia sure as heck felt as ugly and violent and threatening and all pervasive as racism. Homophobia certainly cut off promise and success. One could not deny that suicide among gay youth or youth harassed for being gay was high. And the bonds between people who were Gay and Lesbian sure felt like culture. And isn't family part of culture? The bravest, wisest woman warrior in our family is Jo our daughter who is Lesbian undefinable, incorruptible and says it as it is.

The change came inperceptibly, touching the "mother bear" part and my "sister and family" parts of my heart and hooked up to the "think smarter" part of my brain. And I guess I just finally became integrated. I finally became whole. One day, I noticed that I had let go of useless things. My former protective attitude toward a sorry piece of cheese called "protected class status" no longer held any significance for me. It felt awkward and clumsy and worthless. How long can we afford to be brainwashed that some classes are protected and other oppressed groups are not. That status needs to be broadened until it becomes meaningless in the bright light of truth: we are all human beings and born with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of our own happiness -- which includes marriage and parenthood, and to be safe and free to grow up and learn and work without fear.

As part of DisOrient Asian American Film Festival, we discovered there was a renaissance of film made by independant filmmakers of our community -- and much to my excitement there was a huge number made by Gay and Lesbian filmmakers about being Gay or Lesbian. We sent out the call for entries. Just at that time an Oregon judge put an injunction on the Domestic Partnership law. We were feeling so low, and I wrote to the filmmakers to ask them once again to send the film and how important it was in light of the recent injunction to educate the public even more. Films can touch hearts. We were overwhelmed with their response!! Not only did the filmmakers say yes, but they said yes because they wanted to be part of our struggle. We reached out to Basic Rights of Oregon to see if we could make the films part of a larger program. Basic rights not only said yes, they rented a hall, got goodies together, provided a forum and became a sponsor. It was a great happening, probably the first time Gay, Lesbian and straight people of color could come together for a real conversation which builds relationships.

Our film festival director said, "You know, Misa, we may not be able to have a GLBTQ program every year, " and I nodded. But inside I was determined that our festival needs to take a leadership role in this. This summer, where I teach for a month young middle and high school Asian Pacific youth, and where the festival director teaches film, the one film which captured the Yuri Kochiyama Award for Courage was "My Life in Brown and Pink" when high school freshman Jazmin came out as a Lesbian to her family and filmed it, fifteen minutes of truth and love. Clearly, there will be a GLBTQ program in DisOrient this year, and I'm sure Jazmin will be a great curator of the program! The artists always have led the way in our community.

California's misstep will not be wasted. It has to be national to make sense anyway. Barack Obama's campaign showed it's not those in control of the media and the party machinery who will determine the outcome of an election. With work, we can be ready for the next campaign. Together, we can correct the injustice of CA's Prop 8 and go one more, ordinary people wherever we live and wherever we work. We just keep talking about it, keep pushing , keep building networks, and making families of one another. What a happy life, following the lead of brave youth and artists to lift up justice. I give a shout out to George Takei (and his partner), and to Maceo and tell him, time to come home to Oregon now. We're proud of you.

Sweet Victory

I am replacing my post about Election Night with an email I sent to my friend Bahati Ansari who lives in Arizona now but for years did so much good work in Eugene for racial justice, healing and for enpowering youth. Bahati wrote me her thoughts about the election of President Elect Barack Obama this morning. Wow. I love saying that. President Barack Obama. I wrote her back and decided to replace my original post election blog with this because Bahati and I did a lot together, were sisters, still are. Check out her blog on blogspot.

I wrote that for me when I saw Jesse Jackson's tears fall, that moment encapsulated the whole Presidential ictory for me, what it meant. At (our first ever) election night party, we were all rivited on the tv screen filled with Americans -- the whole jubilant mix -- all the young people, joined with all the African American voters, grandmas, kids, and their good prayers, people of all backgrounds celebrating, weeping, laughing and screaming at the same time -- everyone celebrating their rejection of the McClain Palin strategy or racializing the election, rejected the slave legacy of fear and division -- and having voted their own pocketbooks, personal history, their own commitments they raised up an exceptional leader, a Black man with an African name, born in Africa, raised in Pacific Asia, educated in Hawaii and Chicago, graduated from lessons learned in the halls of Harvard and the streets and community centers and Black churches of Chicago. "WE DID IT!!" they shouted, and we in the living room in front of the tv shouted. Our loud yells must have rocked our neighborhood. "We did it!!" And in doing so America elected the most intelligent, most broadly prepared American leader in history who has shown himself to be cool under all pressure, forgiving with goal firmly in mind, well grounded, and a man who is a good father and husband; a man of his words; a man of decisive well thought action. Who could have believed Americans of all kinds could do this? No pundits could. But we always hoped that we could, didn't we Bahati. That's what our generation hoped. "Si se puede!" And we took that justice attitude to our work whatever it might be, raised our kids by it day after day.

When I saw Jackson's tears fall, (and I am not alone because when the screen filled with his worn and beautiful face, we all responded to make that a sacred moment for this particular man who carried our vision of America to the mountain top), I knew he was a man who witnessed so much and it must have all come back, the sacrifice it took to be there at that moment -- from young men like Emmett Till and his brave mother who took the criticisms to display what race hatred did to her beautiful son to Dr. King, Malcolm X and all the martyrs for justice and freedom. Their blood was spilled for the soul of American, not just for their own people, although that would have been big enough. The Reverend Jackson must have thought of all the struggles of his people which included your struggle, Bahati. And he must have thought of his own on behalf of all of us. All that struggle and sacrifice I hope Barack Obama carries every day in his heart because it will be what gives him the strength to be a remarkable president in a nation who has become an Empire by compromising all its truest ideals for the siren's call. Today we are glutted and face Nero's demise unless we make that change.

I don't know how you felt but I felt the solid door slam shut between us and our President, shut with a bang as he was escorted into the inner sanctum Wednesday morning after Election Night. But I will pray for him that the road he walked through his campaign is so solid it cannot just disappear when he enters into the Presidency. And even if it does, I will still pray for him and Michelle Obama and their two daughters. I started praying for him and the Obama family two years ago when people couldn't mention his bid for the presidency without talking about their fears for his life. I would "hon sen" it away and say loudly "don't say that! Don't even think it! Our words are stronger than you know. When you feel that just push it away and PRAY for him." I'm sure people would think, "geeeez. calm down. what's the matter with you?" I know this because they would answer, " all I'm saying is . ." and say it again, and I'd say it louder, "Stop! Just pray for him when you think that," waving away their words as if they were flies around my head. It would be comical if it weren't so serious.

I prayed at the sacred spring this August. The campaign was very ugly by then. I just prayed for Obama and his family hard. I also prayed for our country that we could see what was the truth. That the veils would drop from everyone's eyes and that everyone could see the truth. That everyone's hearts would be touched so they can feel the truth. That our country could have a good leader who would join us to take care of the earth. That our country would have a leader who cared about the elderly and the children like the Winnemem leaders and all the traditionals do.

So when McCain said "that One" I sucked in air and knew that everyone must have seen McCain unmasked, and that it would be abundantly clear that for him, this was an election about RACE and America had the chance to get their mallet and WHACK down Jim Crowe's ugly head peeking out of the hole with their vote right in front of the world. BAM! (I wrote another blog about whack a mole and Mom's historic vote). I couldn't wait for that mail-in ballot because I had my mallet and was ready! Give me that ballot now! If McCain Palin wanted to make this a black white thing, if they wanted to take us back to the old dayz, fine. I thought, "well my prayers are answered, and I guess we'll find out what America is about." I called it "the big bachi." In another blog I wrote that if this country voted for McCain, there would be a signficant blow to this sytem at the core of the empire and well, that's the way she goes.

I thought about my prayers being answered again when the stock market and banks tanked. I didn't pray for disaster but this brought such clarity to the Presidential campaign in every home across America. Could Americans really afford to hang on to the slave legacy of division and fear this time. I know what McCain Palin represented by their "good America" language. It was SEGREGATED America which grew fat on the backs of slave labor. It was us against them. It was rich and poor. Have and have nots. It was a system which depended many live on the brink, and work hard for very little to give a few unimaginable wealth. So now that every American's security was at stake where we could really feel it, now that some have even even lost their homes, pension, jobs, now that disaster shadowed every doorway, whose hand will we grasp to lift us out? What lay in the American heart? Fear the slave master must have felt? Fear that those duped to hold up a slave system felt? Or the determination to take care of one's family and home. Talk about basic.

So today, I am thankful for every Black person whose every day struggle with the evil legacy, for every immigrant who labored hard under horrific conditions and were reviled for their differences which should have been embraced, (like my own family) for every parent and teacher who taught the youth not to fear and hate, for every soldier for justice, every martyr for freedom, and those who struggle for justice even today. I am thankful for all the young people who raised up this exceptional leader with their techno=movement of hope unfettered by Washington politics and pundits, and I am thankful to Jesse Jackson because he is still the Presidential candidate who carried our vision of America to Washington and paved the way for a centrist African American presidential candidate who showed the world -- we need only see the crowd's jubilation from shore to shore -- America was MORE than ready for this historic presidency -- stupid pundits. From the looks of the crowds all over America and the world, we were bursting for the chance. I am thankful to see America for this small moment and know what I saw was a national choice to let go of what McCain Palin stood for, grab on to the firm hand of Barack Obama and LIFT OURSELVES UP "from the mud of ignorance" (to allude to Maya Angelou's poem "Good Morning." written for Clinton's inaugaral but meant for all of us beyond that day).

So now I'm still watching the tv and all the pundits and politicians are saying Obama is being smart and going for the center. The center is white, mostly-- and Indians especially those not on the federally recognized list (what a concept) for sure are not in the center. Brown immigrants are not in the center. Jesse Jackson's and many of our vision for our country is not in the center. But I'll settle for an Obama presidency for the next eight years and just enjoy that America's face to the world is intelligent, dignified, well grounded, ethical and African and the FIRST LADY AND CHILDREN in that big ol' White House, will be an African woman and children growing up into strong, smart women themselves, right before the world's eyes. I'M SO PROUD!!

A news reporter so young she must have been Maki's age when Jesse ran asked Jesse Jackson "do you think Obama won because he didn't make race an issue?" I grumbled under my breath. I could catch what she meant and I know it came from zero research, just quoting some stupid quick remark by a pundit. I remember Jackson's campaign. I lived through it. It was about hope, about change, about all Americans. It was not that different from Obama. Its difference probably was you really knew Jesse got it from the gate, our stories. It was not Jesse Jackson who made race an issue in the Presidential campaign. All he had to do was walk into the room and all the pundits and politicians could see was race. His message, though, was so powerful, the media could not help but report it. In spite of the power of his vision, our generation could not deliver Jesse to the White House. There was no youth movement and technology so accessible to the grassroots. There was still work to be done, step by step by step. To have followed Jesse and lived under the Bush regime, to watch elections be stolen, politicians bilking the American people with No Shame because they believed they were the law . . . well, it hasn't been easy. And it was so long ago, the Jackson campaign which brought together Americans with such hope. Keep hope alive, he had said. It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy to even keep the memory alive, apparently, with such a question coming from this young reporter.

Jesse's answer, as always, was perfect. He shook his head and said it's two different things. You needed the people who came before and who brought the walls down to make the path for the others to walk. As always, Jesse Jackson painted with one stroke. The generations who met that huge wall with the kind of courage which brought it tumbling down, formed that first rocky path for the generations who stumbled along that path with every breath of their hard life, getting up over and over again, wearing the stones smooth enough so that this precious new generation could walk on it as it was their right and become what is their due. Anyway, Jesse's tears brought it together for me, that night, and with his tears in mind, I keep the hope that President Obama will continue to find that path smoothed over by such sacrifice and struggle through the confusion "at the top" and keep walking it with all his great gifts of intelligence, dignity, cool headedness carrying with him many people who loved him and took care of him and infuenced him along the way. I hope his ears keep tuned to the stories which inspired his campaign, centrist they will not be, and be inspired and enboldened to such greatness that all of us will be left breathless by his Presidency as we were the night of America's sweet, sweet victory.
"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.