Thursday, March 31, 2005

Japanese American icon Fred Korematsu passes away


Fred Korematsu, who President Bill Clinton described as helping to widen the circle of democracy by fighting for human rights, by righting social wrongs, and by empowering others to achieve, passed away on Wednesday afternoon (March 30th) at his daughter's home. He died of respiratory failure at the age of 86.

Born in Oakland, California on January 30, 1919 and an American citizen by birth, Korematsu was among 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In the ensuing months, the Army issued orders rounding up these Americans into 10 Internment camps, each surrounded by barbed wire and machine gun towers and located in desolate regions from California to Arkansas.

Korematsu defied the military orders, evaded authorities and was ultimately arrested and jailed in 1942. He appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the government to incarcerate Americans without charges, vidence or trial. He lost. In its 1944 landmark decision, the high court ruled against him, declaring that the Internment was not caused by racism, but rather, was justified by the Army's claims that Japanese Americans were radio-signaling enemy ships from shore, and were prone to disloyalty. The court called the Internment, a military necessity.

In a stinging dissent, Justice Jackson complained about the lack of any evidence to justify the Internment, writing ??the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination?and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.? Constitutional law scholars have referred to the 1944 case as a civil liberties disaster.

Korematsu's case stood for almost 40 years until Professor Peter Irons with the help of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, researching government's archives, stumbled upon secret Justice Department documents. Among them were memos written in 1943 and 1944 by Edward Ennis, the Justice Department attorney responsible for supervising the drafting of the government?s brief. As Ennis began searching for evidence to support the Army's claim that the Internment was necessary and justified, he found precisely the opposite -- that J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, the FCC, the Office of Naval Intelligence and other authoritative intelligence agencies categorically denied that Japanese Americans had committed any wrong. Other memoranda characterized the government?s claims that Japanese Americans were spying as ?intentional falsehoods.? These official reports were never presented to the Supreme Court, having been intentionally suppressed and, in one case, destroyed by setting the report afire.

It was on this basis -- governmental misconduct -- that a legal team of pro bono attorneys successfully reopened Korematsu?s case in 1983, resulting in the erasure of his criminal conviction for defying the Internment.

During the litigation, Justice Department lawyers offered a pardon to Korematsu if he would agree to drop his lawsuit. In rejecting the offer, Kathryn Korematsu, his wife of 58 years remarked Fred was not interested in a pardon from the government; instead, he always felt that it was the government who should seek a pardon from him and from Japanese Americans for the wrong that was committed.

In throwing out Korematsu's 40 year old criminal conviction, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the US District Court of the Northern District of California wrote:

Korematsu remains on the pages of our legal and political history. As a legal precedent it is now recognized as having limited application. As a historical precedent it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting our constitutional guarantees. It stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability. It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.

In 1998, Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. President Clinton's introduction of Korematsu reflects the significance of his achievements: In the long history of our country's constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls?Plessy, Brown, Parks?To that distinguished list, today we add the name of Fred Korematsu.

Korematsu has been the subject of numerous documentaries including the Emmy awarding film ?Of Civil Wrongs and Rights? co-produced by filmmaker Eric Fournier and Korematsu?s son, Ken Korematsu. His daughter Karen Korematsu-Haigh actively supported Korematsu's interest in civil rights, helping to found the Korematsu Civil Rights Fund sponsored by the Asian Law Caucus, the oldest Asian American public interest law firm in the nation. Karen remarked ?I know he was the country?s hero, but he was my personal hero.?

Other awards include honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco, California State University Hayward, McGeorge School of Law, and the City University of New York Law School, and official recognition from the California State Senate.

Korematsu's other community activities include serving as past President of the San Leandro chapter of the Lion?s Club, and actively supporting the Boy Scouts of America. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Source: SUNNEWS wire

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I Love to Read/March's First Fotos!

Just uploaded pictures of Maiya, the reader and March's "first fotos" of Maiya, her guests and travels to the website.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

On Being a SAHM

I think Maiya is going thru a growth spurt (7 weeks this week)... last night, she ate about every hour or so from 7pm till 3 am... and then she slept till 6:30 am. For the most part, I'm sleeping in increments of 10 minutes to 3 hours, but aside from being tired in the evenings, I'm functioning pretty well. Must be the fact that I'm getting so much love back from my little girl, who is much more alert these days, smiling a lot and even has a chuckle that is just so cute.

Yesterday, I left Maiya with Tony for 5 hours! That's the longest I've been away from her since she was born. I went to Great Leap to take the staff out to lunch at Zip Fusion Sushi (our favorite lunch place). it was wierd being back at the office after being gone the last 3 months. After lunch, I was about to start downloading all my personal files off the computer, but the CD burner wasn't working and there was over a gigabyte of stuff i had on the computer. So, I realized that i really don't need all that stuff i've been hoarding and i should go thru it b/4 just bringing all that clutter onto my home computer. That, and this mama's breasts were full and heavy and I needed to get home. In any case, Maiya took two bottles of thawed breastmilk and although she was a bit fussy, she took her first bottle since she was 8 days old.

It's so funny how last year this time (actually for the last 10+ years), I had commitments 2-4 nights a week, coming home from 8-11 pm on a regular basis, and often had weekend meetings, work/arts-related performances or community/political events to attend, and since January I have been home-home-home. I'm seriously enjoying being home. Am I now a housewife? A Stay-At-Home Mom? In many ways, even if motherhood is definitely lot of work, it's much easier than the lifestyle that has exhausted me for years. I still need to probably work on balance in my life, but I think that will even itself out as Maiya grows and develops.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Harvests Begin with the Seed (Tony's Blog #2)

Last month, Saturday, February 19, 2005, Jenni and I took Maiya to the annual Day of Remembrance (DOR) program in Little Tokyo. Organized by NCRR--Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, it commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 by Franklin D. Rooservelt that forced 110,000 Japanese American into Concentration Camps during WWII. This year’s program was titled, When Loyalty is Questioned...from Tule Lake to Guantanamo.

When I told some of my high school students we were planning on going with Maiya, one said, “How come, she’s too young to remember.” She was right. At several weeks old, Maiya is too little. But like many religious and cultural traditions like Baptisms and first year birthday parties, taking Maiya was important because DOR represents the values we want Maiya to grow up with: honoring past struggles, using history to make connections to today, and standing up for justice. Along with connecting a new family tradition to NCRR’s DOR tradition, it was a treat to see Maiya surrounded by so many of her elders and their community spirit. She’ll have many role models to learn from.

So yes, Maiya won’t personally remember any of her first experiences she’s likely to take part in this year like “painting” the Little Tokyo mural, marching for peace against the the war in Iraq (and possibly Iran), walking the picket line for Assi Market workers in Koreatown, eating dinner at the Far East CafĂ©--or at least Paul’s Kitchen, and dancing the Tanko Bushi at summer Obon festivals. We also plan to visit Grace Lee Boggs (where she got her middle name) in Detroit and relatives in Washington and Idaho this summer. But Maiya will hear the stories, see the pictures and grow up knowing that her own life is intertwined with larger events and people. Along with taking care of her physical and psychological needs, Jenni and I also need to nurture her spiritually and build her community consciousness. She’ll grow knowing she has an important role to play in this world.

Gaining the heart and skills to build a new and more just society means experiencing community-building events in the same way bedtime stories, nursery rhymes, and alphabet play lay the foundation for a love of reading. It should be a process and a natural part of daily life. Jenni and I will have to think of ways to make these times interactive and age-appropriate. We hope it works out.

Link NCRR to
Assi Market Workers--

Thursday, March 17, 2005

6 Weeks with Maiya G.

Maiya turned six weeks old this week. Hard to believe. She's such a dream. She's starting to be more alert during the day, looking around at things. We've been moving around quite a bit lately. We've been to two La Leche League meetings, gone for walks in the Baby Bjorn carrier or the stroller, running errands, going to doctors, and this morning we went to a Mommie & Me Yoga class. It was my first workout in many months, so I'm probably going to be sore tomorrow. What's cool is that you can bring your baby, nurse or hold her if necessary. She slept during the first half, and "watched" me during the second half. After we came back from yoga, it was bathtime. My brave, strong daughter likes the water and doesn't cry when taking a bath.

When she's fussy or gassy, I'm learning that she will calm down when we pick her up, and she will smile if I turn on India.Arie and start dancing with her and singing loudly. Sometimes. I'm also learning that a horrid day can be wiped out with a sideways glance up at me and a big smile.

Did you hear about the 1,000 protesters who picketed Arnold's $89,000 per couple fundraiser in Century City last night? He's got obviously very wealthy special interest individuals and businesses paying $89,000 for dinner with him, and he's complaining about "special interest" teachers, nurses and service union employees outside. Is that ironic or what?

Ok, well, enough for today. Time to feed the little munchkin. I'm putting my column which ran in yesterday's paper below.

Celebrating Life: Documenting Family & Community

Here's my most recent Rafu Shimpo column 3/16/05

I’ve been taking pictures like crazy! On February 1st, just six weeks ago, I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby girl, Maiya Grace Kuida-Osumi.

With my digital camera, I have taken close to 300 photos. I take pictures when Maiya sleeps, when she smiles, when she cries, when her daddy gives her a bath, after diaper changes, when we go for a walk, every time Maiya has a new visitor, and sometimes, just because she is just so darn cute.

I am also taking pictures with our 35 mm film camera, videotaping her, and doing my best to keep up our personal family website. In addition, I’m recording every feeding, every pee, every poop, with a brief journal entry of each day.

This is my life the last six weeks, but unfortunately, I have been to two funerals in the Japanese American community in the last few weeks. Both of which were very moving tributes that remind me of the importance of documenting family and community stories.

The first was a memorial service for Eddie Oshiro, who was tragically killed when a car hit him as he crossed the street in February. Eddie was 83 years old and a longtime resident of the San Pedro Firm Building, a low-income housing project operated by the Little Tokyo Service Center CDC (LTSC CDC).

Eddie took pictures every day. People who work, live or spend any amount of time in J-town undoubtedly have run into Eddie, and maybe had a snapshot taken by him. He took pictures of all kinds of people, and documented the changes taking place in Little Tokyo over the years.

At the funeral, Bill Watanabe from LTSC said that Eddie wasn’t just a picture taker, he was a picture giver. It’s true. Eddie would take your picture and then get a copy to you. A few months ago, we received a batch of photos taken by Eddie--some with my husband Tony as he led community tours for college students in Little Tokyo, and some of me, at Great Leap’s production of “To All Relations: Sacred Moon Songs” in the courtyard of East West Players last July.

I also learned that Eddie was a regular member at Centenary United Methodist Church and that he took pictures every week during the service. Reverend KarenFay Ramos-Young said that she has a shoebox filled with photos Eddie had taken of her children, documenting their growth from week-to-week over the last few years. Every person who spoke at Eddie’s service talked about how he had given them photos of themselves as well.

At the memorial service, Eddie spoke to us, through a video interview that had been shot by Sheri Kamimura for a project of LTSC, and produced by Tad Nakamura, a 2nd generation filmmaker. It was so great to see Eddie in action, taking photos and walking the streets of Little Tokyo, and passing out photos to his friends.

The other funeral I attended was for Gloria Uchida, who passed away after a 7-year battle with breast cancer. I first met Gloria about 10 or 11 years ago when I was volunteering for a community tree-planting day on Second Street in Little Tokyo. Gloria was the Little Tokyo Project Manager for the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and was so happy that young people were helping to beautify Little Tokyo. (In fact, if you want to see pictures of the tree-planting day, Eddie Oshiro took photos that are hanging on a poster board in the San Pedro Firm Building.)

I met Gloria again over the phone about 5 years ago through my work with Great Leap. She was interviewing me about a Great Leap project that I had applied for funding from Japanese American Community Services (JACS), an organization that has supported projects in Little Tokyo for decades. The project was to bring 1,000 kids to Little Tokyo to see one of Great Leap’s multicultural performances and visit the Japanese American National Museum. We spent several hours talking about the project, Great Leap, and Little Tokyo. She was so sharp, and I loved talking with her.

Then, I joined the Board of JACS a few years ago and met Gloria at one of the meetings. She was very sick, but she had been the heart and soul of JACS for decades and made an effort to meet with the new board members and pass on some of her knowledge of the organization’s 90+ year history (starting with the Shonien orphanage). I remember being immediately engaged in talking with her, and thinking how electric and vivid her eyes were as we spoke and how much she cared about the future of JACS.

At the funeral, I learned that through Gloria’s decades of work with the CRA, she had her hand in supporting countless buildings and projects in Little Tokyo. They showed a video montage of Gloria’s family photos, coincidentally also edited together by Tad, showing Gloria’s love for her family. It was very touching, and really reminded me how precious life is, and how important it is to spend quality time with family.

So I encourage Rafu readers to take pictures today or use any form of media that allows you to not only document life now--while the kids are still young and before a loved one passes away-- but to live life to its fullest. Both Eddie and Gloria were a part of J-town and they will definitely be missed and remembered.

Celebrating life, family and community. I gotta run. Baby Maiya is smiling and I just have to take a picture.

© 2005.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Save EV1! Stop GM from destroying cars

Have you heard about the Save EV1 campaign? I just saw a story on the local news this morning because one of the Baywatch babes was arrested yesterday in protest of the crushing of these electric vehicles. Apparently, GM made 1100 zero emission, zero pollution, petroleum-free electric cars in 1999, and is now destroying all remaining 77 of them. A group of environmental and clean-air activists are participating in a round the clock vigil outside the GM facility in Burbank to put the remaining EV1's back on the road, which GM is taking to Arizona to be crushed. Individuals have offered to purchase these remaining cars for $1.9 million, which were taken back after their leases ran out.

It doesn't make any sense to destroy these cars--especially when SUVs run amok in this state. Check out the campaign's website at Then click to the section on how you can join me in helping support the vigil and save these cars from GM's senseless destruction. How un-green can you get. I mean really.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Take a Steroid, Kick a Woman

Here's an article from Counter Punch, a similar version is scheduled to run in the Nation. I highly recommend that you read this article.
Take a Steroid; Kick a Woman

Back in the early 1990s, the right-wing taste of the year was Newt Gingrich. He led the Republican sweep into Congress in the 1994 mid-term elections. His "Contract With America" loomed in every headline. Liberals wailed that Gingrichism was invincible.

The counterattack began right in Gingrich's front yard, in Georgia. The Atlanta Central Labor Council and Jobs with Justice staged a noisy sit-in in Gingrich's local Congressional office and seized the headlines with stinging descriptions of the Contract as a cruel assault on the poor and the working class. For months, groups of union workers dogged the Congressman at his every stop across the country. This noisy guerrilla warfare rallied the faint-hearted and threw Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, off balance. By 1995 a rattled Gingrich had lost his touch, faltering badly in the famous budget face-off with Clinton.

In the 2000 Democratic primary campaign the AIDS coalition ACT UP (involved in the earlier Gingrich protests) adopted the same tactic against Al Gore, showing up wherever he made public appearances and shouting out protests at the rotten AIDS policies he'd signed on to. There weren't always many protesters, but they were always there, and they had an effect. Gore changed his line, and so did the Clinton Administration.

Now it's Arnold Schwarzenegger's turn. California's nurses have got him rattled, and it's already costing him. A February 23 Field Poll showed his approval ratings declining ten points since last September, a significant drop. One might have thought that it's a no-brainer to realize that kicking Florence Nightingale's butt is not a sure-fire way to the public's heart. But the Governor is so used to browbeating the press that he thought he could do the same to the California Nurses' Association (CNA), one of the most militant unions in the country, with 60,000 members and representing registered nurses at 171 health facilities throughout the state. Schwarzenegger has been trying to roll back the union's gains on nurse/ patient ratios, safety standards and kindred issues.

Schwarzenegger's version of Howard Dean's scream came in December in Long Beach. As the nurses barracked him during a speech, he denounced them as one of the "special interests" and said, "I'm always kicking their butt." This witty response from the breast-grabber got plenty of play, and did the nurses nothing but good. At a January Capitol protest in Sacramento the nurses carried coffins and had a New Orleans jazz group play a death march. During the Super Bowl they flew a small plane over the steroid-swollen Governor's party at his Santa Monica home. When he was in Washington they took out a full-page ad in Roll Call flaying his record. During a Schwarzenegger speech in a Sacramento hotel, nurses held up a banner saying RNs Say Stop the Power Grab.

On February 15, when Schwarzenegger and his platoons of body guards and flunkies trooped into a screening of Be Cool, 300 nurses demonstrated. Kelly DiGiacomo, 46 years old and 5'2", a nurse at a Kaiser hospital near Sacramento, had a ticket. She ensconced herself in the fourth row, wearing her nurse's scrubs.

A bodyguard rushed up, and under the pretext of a possible meeting with the governor, led her to a room with a California Highway Patrol cop at the door and began to grill DiGiacomo. A few days later a CHP investigator called. DiGiacomo asked why she should be considered a threat. The investigator replied, "Well, you were wearing a nurse's uniform." "Oh, sure, the international terrorist uniform," DiGiacomo scoffed. Californians scoffed with her when they saw the news stories. At least Bush and Cheney can claim they're being targeted by hairy men from the dark side of Mecca. Here's Arnold hiding behind his goons from the woman who cares for you when you're in the hospital.

Schwarzenegger's strategy has been to project an image-calculatedly fascistic in style-of irresistible momentum, aiming to crush all opposition with threats to go directly to the people with rallies backed by the mountains of corporate cash he's been raising since he was elected.

It's no idle threat. Schwarzenegger has a swollen war chest, albeit one that's also starting to get him bad press. One of the reasons Gray Davis, his predecessor in Sacramento, got recalled was his 24/7 addiction to fundraising. If anything, Schwarzenegger is even more relentless, with a corporate cash IV permanently stuck in his arm. Last year he raised $28.8 million, and this year he plans to raise at least another $50 million to promote his agenda.

Schwarzenegger's agenda is crudely simple: Attack and if possible destroy social safety nets in health, pensions, insurance, workers' comp, job security, education, etc., with a green light for business to pillage, outsource jobs and not pay taxes.

He's already tripped. Near the end of February Schwarzenegger was reportedly abandoning his proposal to abolish the independent Board of Registered Nursing, along with eighty-eight other regulatory and policy boards. But he's still planning to roll California into DeLay-style redestricting and to ramp up the use of "emergency" diktats to undercut democratic opposition from the legislature. One such example is in the area of healthcare: an emergency order by the Governor in November to roll back patient safety standards in California hospitals, reversing the intent of a 1999 law. A CNA lawsuit challenging that order will be heard in Sacramento Superior Court in early March.

You might have thought Schwarzenegger would have some sympathy for nurses, who incur long-term back trauma from having to haul patients up in bed, a task equivalent, on average, to lifting about 1.8 tons a day. No. The Governor vetoed a bill requiring hospitals (heavy Schwarzenegger donors) to install safe-lift policies and equipment. And yes, he vetoed another bill to educate school coaches about the dangers of steroids and performance-enhancing diet supplements.

As I said, political momentum is the key to Schwarzenegger's game. But what happens when you trip over a 5'2" woman in nurse's scrubs? You lose momentum. What happens when you start screaming abuse at nurses and teachers? What happens when you make working women your enemies? The humbled president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, might want to have a word with Governor Schwarzenegger on that one.

March 2, 2005 

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Happy One Month

Happy One Month Birthday to baby Maiya! Hard to believe it's been 4 weeks since our little love bug was born! We're off to a New Mother Breastfeeding support group at The Pump Station today!