The Red Kimono


IMG_0368Without giving away too much of my book, The Red Kimono, there is a part in the story where Mama hands Sachi her red kimono. It is Mama’s offering of acceptance and forgiveness. That’s how, for me, a red kimono came to symbolize acceptance and forgiveness. And so, that is what I call this blog. In so much of our past and present, the world could use more of both.

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Meeting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I’d like to share a brief excerpt from my work-in-process sequel to The Red Kimono.

The following scene takes place on May 29, 1958, at the Little Rock Central High School graduation. On that day, Ernest Green, became the first black person graduate from Little Rock Central High School, after he and eight other African American teenagers (known as the Little Rock Nine,) enrolled at the school. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, an event in which Governor Orval Faubus attempted to prevent the students from entering the racially segregated school, and President Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect the nine students.

NOTE: I have researched all historical events to the best of my ability to assure historical accuracy. However, if you should read and see errors, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Ernest Green, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisy Bates

Ernest Green, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisy Bates

Excerpt:

As the sun set behind the stadium, the warm, humid air turned damp and cool. Sachi buttoned her sweater as she watched the long procession of graduates begin to cross the stage.

Adams, Anderson, Avery…Baker, Bevins, Brown… Cheers came in waves through the audience, led by family and friends of each graduate. Carver, Cassidy, Clayton…Davis, Decker, Draper…More whistles and cheers. Eckhardt, Edwards, Evans…Fenton, Flanders, Franks…Sachi sat up straight, excited to see history made when Ernest Green crossed the stage.

Gavin, Gotwals . . . more cheering, and Sachi prepared to cheer for the only person she’d come to see.

“Ernest Green.”

She stood to clap, but Terrence grabbed her arm and pulled her down. Silence shuddered through the night and she felt a thousand eyes upon her.

But the first Negro to graduate from Little Rock Central High School walked across that stage with his head held high. And his mama watched, like they were the only two people in the world.

The cheering continued with the call of the next name, and Sachi again felt the complete loneliness of being in a group of those not wanted. The only comfort she found was in the congratulations being whispered up and down the row of colored people.

The rest of the ceremony dragged on, from H through Z. She only clapped because everyone else in her row clapped, perhaps to be polite. Or, perhaps they were afraid of what would happen if they didn’t.

When at last the graduates sang “On Tigers!” and tossed their caps into the air, Sachi had never been so happy for an event to be over.

As they turned to leave, Terrence touched her arm. “Sachi, Jubie, wait. There’s someone else I’d like you to meet before we leave.”

When Sachi turned around, she saw the man who had been sitting beside Daisy now stood next to Terrence.

“Sachi, Jubie, this is Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King, these are my friends, Sachi Clark and Jubie Franklin.”

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I’m a Republican, Not a Sheep


sheep2

Like lava, this post has been been bubbling and boiling beneath the surface for some time now. If I had to pinpoint, the roiling started about the time Republican candidates signed the loyalty pledge:

I, __________, affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States, I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is. I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate, nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.

This was the RNC’s attempt to keep Donald Trump from running as a third-party candidate, fearing a siphoning of votes from the Republican nominee, likely assuring the Democrat nominee’s victory.

However, according the The New York Times, the pledge is a party-produced document and is not legally binding.

And so, this eruption is brought to you by events of the last few days:

1) Donald Trump’s proposition that all Muslims be banned from entering the United States. 

2) Several candidates, both Republican and Democrat, have united in their criticism of Trump’s idea. However, to my knowledge, not a single Republican candidate has said he/she will not support Trump if he is the Republican nominee. According to The Atlantic:

“…Trump is proposing a policy that would violate the Constitution and his oath of office, and would amount to an impeachable offense if he put it into effect, but [Ryan] would still support him over (presumably) Hillary Clinton if it came to it.”

Still, Paul Ryan is not the only Republican who will not withdraw his support for the Republican nominee, should it be Trump. I’ve heard several candidates asked if they would support Trump as the nominee. After bumbling, avoidance and walking on glass with answers like: “I don’t think Trump will be the nominee,” or “Let’s not deal with hypotheticals,” when push comes to shove, the candidate replies that yes, he will support Trump as the nominee…because they signed the loyalty pledge.

Are you kidding me? Even after Trump’s statements about Muslims? Even after he’s somehow re-writing the history of the internment of Japanese Americans, using the excuse that countries must implement questionable policies in order to win wars?

Just what would Trump need to say or do to get Republicans to finally say they will not support him?

Is it really so important to have a Republican in office that we’d vote for a man who, in my humble opinion, is a RINO bigot bloviator? And now, according to Reuters, much of the world has criticized Trump for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering this country. Some, including the United Kingdom and even Israel, want to ban Trump from entering their countries.

I’ve said it before. I don’t want this man representing me or my country. The world reaction to his words foreshadows the challenge that would be should he become president.

3) Finally, yesterday, someone suggested I was “just like all the other Republicans.” No, I’m not.

If Trump is the Republican nominee, for me, it truly will be an election where my choice will be the lesser of two evils–a decision based on who will do the least harm to this country. In my opinion, Trump has already put us on a path of self-destruction.

I remember a horrifying scene in the movie Far from the Madding Crowd, where Gabriel Oaks’s sheep are chased off a cliff by a dog.

sheep1

I refuse to follow sheep off a cliff. That’s why, today, though most can’t or won’t say it, I’m going to say it. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I will vote Democrat.

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A Way of Life


Amazing that today, the 74th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, all the talk on CNN is about Donald Trump’s proposition that all Muslims be banned from travel to the United States. This follows his suggested surveillance of mosques and database of Muslims.

Even more amazing to me is what I heard from Trump supporter, Jeffrey Lord, on Anderson Cooper tonight. Mr. Lord practically gloated that there is a precedent for Trump’s ideas and brought up the fact that after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt authorized Japanese Americans be put on curfew and restricted to military zones. He talked about how radios, cameras, etc., were confiscated from them.

Following the bombing, approximately 120,000 people of Japanese descent (almost 2/3 were American citizens) were sent to internment camps because they looked like the enemy.

Mr. Lord was quick to say he was not advocating internment. Certainly not! But click here to see a chronology of what preceded the internment of Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Notice any similarities to what’s being talked about today?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Fear is a slippery slope, and we don’t even notice that we’re sliding down a little more every day.

Yesterday, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, Bono said:

[More than] trying to take away our lives, they (ISIS) are trying to take away our way of life. If they change the nature of the United States and the way people think about pluralism and inclusiveness, then they win. Don’t let them win.

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Fear of the Huddled Masses


At first, I felt a sense of security upon hearing that more than half of our nation’s governors have said that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in their states.

Courtesy PBS

Courtesy PBS

The day after the terrorist attacks took place in Paris, I wrote about the courage shown by many Parisians. I wondered if I could be brave enough to invite strangers into my home within hours of the attacks.

Today, I read that France will take in 30,000 refugees over the next two years.

There have been times in our past when fear put us on a slippery slope–a slope that, step by slippery step, we slid down, until we moved far, far away from some of the things I value most–diversity, generosity, courage.

History repeats itself. Before World War II, fewer than 5% of Americans thought “we should encourage [Jewish political refugees] to come to America.

And though this situation bears differences from the Japanese American internment–for one, during World War II, more than 60% of the internees were actually citizens of this country, whereas the Syrian refugees are not–the fact that we once again, are making judgments against an entire group of people based on the actions of a relative few, is the same today as it was in 1942.

The vast majority of these refugees are already victims of terrorism. They’ve lost their homes, their possessions, loved ones, some, even their lives. True, there are some logistical challenges to accepting them into our country, but most of the protests I’ve seen have nothing to do with logistics. They have to do with fear.

I agree with The Washington Post’s description of where the refugees now find themselves:

Syrian refugees in the United States have become a political football after the Paris attacks.

In my opinion, the governors of the states denying the refugees are taking advantage of our fears for political gain, making statements like the one made by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a letter to President Obama:

“We will refrain from participating “in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas.”

Why do I think statements such as Governor Abbott’s are made primarily for political gain? Mostly because they don’t appear to be very well thought-out. Denying the Syrians refuge in their states leaves me with the following questions:

  1. Since some of the terrorists in recent attacks were from France, Belgium and possibly Egypt, will you deny entrance from those countries (and others?) too?
  2. How will you prevent these refugees from later relocating to your states from other states? Are you going to put guards at the borders, maybe close your borders?

In a CNN article, Delaware Governor Jack Markell made several excellent points, which you can read here. But the comment that struct me most was his reminder of the quote that appears on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

This prompted me to read the entire poem by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I can’t put my reaction to this poem any better than Steve did after I read it to him: “What has happened to our humanity?”

I have no doubt I’m as frightened as the next person. But I’m going to do my best to resist for as long as I can, sliding down fear’s slippery slope.

Posted in Current Events, Hate, History, Politics, Prejudice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A 1937 Yearbook, the Atomic Bomb and Hiroshima


If you want to know what it was like that day, 70 years ago, when the bomb was dropped, read this.

Koji says he’s not a writer, but in stories like this one about his family’s history in Hiroshima, I beg to disagree.

Masako and Spam Musubi

(Please see An Atomic Spark and a 1937 Yearbook and Dad Was in the Newspaper for background information.)

There is living proof of forgiveness from a few – and they let out a resounding message of world peace for us.

My son Takeshi, second cousin Izumi and my cousin Masako at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

_______________________

It was an extreme emotional experience – not just for my oldest son Takeshi and I but for the kind souls who joyfully spent their afternoons with us on a hot September day in Hiroshima.  I was able to finally meet – and thank – the people who were kind enough to seek out my father’s 1937 high school yearbook and thereby give my father a joyous remembrance of his most happiest days of youth in the sunset of his long life.

_______________________

Not being a writer, putting this experience into words is…

View original post 1,275 more words

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