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 Café--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 http://www.ncrr-la.org/
Assi Market Workers--http://www.kiwa.org/e/homefr.htm