Today, while watching CNN, I was reminded once again about how history repeats itself, though not always in obvious ways.

I learned about these two hashtags:

I learned about them while listening to a discussion between CNN anchor, Carol Costello and Bobby Ghosh (Managing Editor of the business news website, Quartz). In the discussion, they mentioned President Obama’s reference to the movement #NotInMyName at yesterday’s speech to the United Nations.

According to the Huffington Post:

Led by East London-based charity Active Change Foundation, #NotInMyName gives a voice to young Muslims in the UK who have come together against the hate and violence espoused by the terror group, [ISIS].

Upon hearing about this hashtag, I clicked on the Twitter app on my iPhone and searched for #NotInMyName. “Bravo” flashed before me as I read some of the texts:



But that wasn’t the end of the discussion. Mr. Ghosh followed up by talking about the second hashtag I learned about today: #MuslimApologies.

The Washington Post  defines the hashtag as:

#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.

#MuslimApologies is a generally sarcastic and humorous attempt by some Muslims to express their frustration.


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This isn’t the first time attitudes toward the Muslim community have reminded me of attitudes many held about people of Japanese descent (more than 60% of whom were Americans) after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Here are a couple of similarities as I see them:

  1. As with the young Muslims who are using the hashtag #NotInMyName to disassociate themselves from ISIS, the Japanese living in America did not want to be associated with and thought of in the same light as the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. Though they, of course, didn’t have the power of social media to distance themselves, some hung signs outside of their businesses and homes that declared they were American. And in interview after interview I found in my research for The Red Kimono, many former internees talk about how they did not resist going to the camps to prove they were loyal Americans.
  2. Mr. Gosh talked about the frustration of many Muslims about the attitude many hold that moderate Muslims do not speak up more against radical Islamists. Through my research, I learned that many Japanese held the same frustrations. There was little they could do to prove their loyalty and that they were no threat.



History repeats itself. That’s why we should remember it. I’ll admit, even with the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II being a part of my own family history–my mother was an internee–and even with all of the research I did to write The Red Kimono, I still sometimes find myself sliding into thinking about a group of people as all being the same as a radical relative few.

Sometimes the very media from which I learned about these hashtags can contribute to these attitudes.

But if we remember our lessons of the past, perhaps we’ll think twice before such attitudes become cemented into who we are.


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How Will You Celebrate #PeaceDay?

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Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. I’ve seen very little on the news or social media about the day, a curious thing, considering the condition of the world today.



Here’s the definition on the United Nations website:

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.


One of my favorite hymns is “Let There Be Peace on Earth:”

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

“And let it begin with me.”  In my opinion, those are the most important words.

As I thought about the day, I brainstormed about how peace might begin with me. Here’s my list so far:

  • Accept and appreciate our differences instead of fearing them.
  • Practice compassion.
  • Learn to be more empathetic.
  • Strive not to offend.
  • Strive not to be offended.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Don’t be drawn into the negativity social media often feeds.
  • Let go.

Today, as I continue to pack and prepare to move, I’ll be singing “let it begin with me.” Good thing nobody can hear. :)

How will you celebrate the day? What are your ideas on ways to promote peace?

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#TGIF On a Positive Note: True #BFF


Most news stories leave the bitter taste of “What’s this world coming to” in my mouth. But this story of friendship, kindness, courage and compassion gives me hope.

After “mean girls” play a joke on Lilly Skinner, telling her she’s been nominated for homecoming queen, her two BFFs, Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez, promise to pass the crown to Lilly should either of them win.

Lilly, unaware of her friends’ promise, showed grace through the bullying, remembering what her mother told her: “Don’t judge by the outside. It’s what’s in the heart that counts.”

Bravo to Anahi and Naomi. Two beautiful souls to give us hope.

Read the full story HERE.

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Chicago! Chicago!

I am honored to be invited by the Japanese American Historical Society of Chicago to give a workshop on writing family history on Thursday, August 28, starting at 12:00 p.m.

CJAS Workshop


And thank you very much to the Japan America Society of Chicago for their invitation to do a presentation and book signing for The Red Kimono, same date, same place, starting at 6:00 p.m.

CJAS Book signing

Posted in Japanese Culture, The Red Kimono | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Ah, Life!

Jan Morrill:

Life gets crazy…but I love it!

Originally posted on Jan Morrill Writes:

I started to post this little complaint ruse on Facebook, but thought I might get a little long-winded, so I’ll do a blog post instead. I can’t make any promises about not being too long-winded, however.

In the last several days, squeezed in during Tommy’s naps and my evening hours, I’ve been packing and preparing three presentations I’ll make next week between here and Chicago:

Saturday, August 23 – Springfield Writers’ Guild, 1:00 pm-2:00 pm at Heritage Cafeteria, 1364 E Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri. I’ll be presenting a workshop on Interviewing Your Characters.

Thursday, August 28 – Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, 12:00 pm-1:30 pm at Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State Street (Video Theater, Lower Level), Chicago, IL. I’ll be conducting a workshop titled Wearing the Red Kimono, which will teach participants different methods to turn family history into stories.

Thursday, August 28 – Japan America…

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What Do You Think: A Comic Book Character’s Demise


Today I heard a story on CNN about tomorrow’s demise of a comic strip character I grew up with: Archie.

Though I was not a huge fan of Archie, or for that matter, many other comic book characters, just hearing the name “Archie” took me back to my childhood with memories of Saturday morning cartoons when I watched Archie and the Gang. In fact, before I was publicly interested in boys, I remember being rather enthralled with the goings-on of Archie, Veronica, Reggie and Betty.

So, when I first heard, “Archie,” I thought, “Oh yeah, I remember Archie and the Gang.”

CNN reported:

…he’s dying taking a bullet for his gay best friend, Kevin Keller, so he’s saving his life by taking a bullet for him…


I can’t completely articulate why this bothered me, but it did. Why did a beloved character have to die at all, much less like this? I mean, this was a happy-go-lucky teenager, not a crime-fighting superhero like Batman, Superman, etc.


I understand that the “real” world is a violent place and that bad things happen to good people. But why do our CARTOONS–a place children used to be able to go for fun and possibly to escape reality–have to be so real?

It was a “what’s-this-world-coming-to” moment.

I did feel better when I further researched the death and read in the Washington Post:

While casual fans likely still associate Archie with soda shops and sock hops — and that’s still holds true for the very much alive teenage character in the original “Archie” series — Archie was thrust into adulthood with the launch of “Life with Archie” in 2010.

So, apparently, Life with Archie is geared more toward adults.

I know. Maybe I need to get a life if this bothered me so much. Maybe I think it’s sad that the world has lost a lot of its innocence. Maybe it’s because there’s so much awfulness in the “real world”–the crisis in the Middle East, immigrant children, shootings in Chicago, an inept government, blah, blah, blah–that I want my entertainment, and more specifically, kids’ entertainment, to stay entertainment.

Either way, this is how I’ll remember Archie and the Gang.

Film-Archie Movie

What do you think?



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The Zen of Stacking Rocks

smallphoto (13) - CopyHave you ever stacked rocks? For me, it’s like meditation, because all I think about, as I hold a rock, let it hover over another, is stillness–stillness enough to steady my hand until the rock is placed gently on top of another.

Any stressful thought, any worry, will cause my hand to shake, cause the stack to tumble down.

I don’t remember how or when I began stacking rocks. Nobody taught me, and I don’t think it’s a formal meditation or philosophy, but it works for me.

As many of you who have read The Red Kimono know, smallIMG_0850 - CopyI included this meditation in the book. It plays an important role in the beginning of Sachi’s and Jubie’s friendship, and it also helps them to say “goodbye.”

Here’s an excerpt from The Red Kimono. Jubie and Sachi have just met, and have just discovered that both of their fathers were killed because of the color of their skin.

“Maybe it will never go away,” Sachi said, “but Papa taught me smallIMG_0855 - Copy (1)how to take my mind off things that bother me.”

Jubie wiped her tears with her sleeve. “Yeah?”

“That stack of rocks I made? The one you were going to put the little stone on top of?”

“Uh-huh. What, it got some sorta magic or something?”

“Yes, you could say that, sort of like magic.” Sachi watched the butterfly move its wings up and down. “Remember when I told you to concentrate?”

“Yeah, but I couldn’t ‘cause you was talking to me.”

“Right. Well, what Papa always used to tell me was to concentrate and put everything out of your mind. Don’t think about anything except balancing that next rock.”

Jubie snickered.

“Trust me. I’ve tried it. It works.” Sachi looked around. “Where is that rock you had?”

“Right here,” Jubie said, opening her hand.

“Come on. Try. Put it on my stack of racks. Right where that butterfly is.”

The butterfly left its perch.

smallIMG_0941 - Copy“Just remember. Put everything out of your head, so all you’re thinking about is balancing that one rock.”

Jubie dangled the stone over the five rocks.

Sachi held her breath. Wisps of hair tickled her face in the breeze, but she dared not move.

The stones clicked softly. Jubie let go . . . waited for a second . . . moved . . . her hand.

The rock stilled, stayed.

Jubie smiled. “Your papa was right. It worked.”

Almost everywhere I go, I leave stacked rocks behind, like these Steve and I built in Santa Fe. It’s a kind of signature. But, more than anything, it helps me to feel peace.

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