I’m so grateful for the Asian American courses I took at UW. It was there I was first exposed to the Examiner as a reader – and you know where that went. It was also my first education to the community’s history, contributions, and contemporary issues. To learn that at 20 years-old is late, in my opinion. Classes responsible for opening your eyes like that should be required for not only APIs but all students living in a country full of diversity. It’s significant to me that API activists in the 60s fought to have the program in our universities so their history would be equally represented – and it is through those courses a new generation of APIs are being educated.
A legacy the classes instilled in me was a strong sense of equality (except in our newsroom, where editors reign). Entry-level Asian American Studies traditionally include an analysis (but introduction for most) of the Japanese American internment during World War II. Paranoia, fear, and rampant racism allowed Japanese American citizens to be rounded up with no regard for who they were as people. Their rights as U.S. citizens were discarded and ever since, the JA community has desired, in the least, recognition for this appalling cruelty to a whole community.
Then, as now, people want an equal opportunity in America, no more or less. While the current solicitor general finally confessed recently there was evidence prior to the internment that proved Japanese Americans on the West coast were no threat to the U.S. during WWII, this may still not be enough to make things “square.” What will, I don’t know. All that is left is memory — the memory in those that experienced it and the memory of the internment that must be left in future generations. The only way to make things “square” may be to avoid it from happening ever again. In an op-ed by special contributor Bob Shimabukuro (page 3,) he’ll share his opinion about the recent “confession” and what still concerns him about it.
The fight for equality can be seen in so many different movements – in past injustices, immigration, women’s rights, even in the green movement. I’ve learned only recently the green movement is more than bike lanes, incandescent light bulbs, and recycling. Michael Woo and the folks at Got Green demonstrated to me that the green movement is an opportunity for a better, healthier life for all — and communities of color should be a part of it.
Current green initiatives at the city and federal level could mean dollars for local communities – and groups like Got Green are making sure disadvantaged, inner city communities are getting their chance at participating in the movement: getting trained in “green jobs”, living in greener homes, and having access to nutritional, organic food for their families. In our annual Green issue, we address this movement, led by Asian Americans – who are forcing policy makers and political leaders to listen and see for themselves – that APIs won’t sit idle and expect to be treated equally. Although that’s something people shouldn’t have to fight for, courageous people are doing it everyday. And you don’t have to enroll in an Asian American Studies to understand that.
Thank you to Puget Sound Energy for their generous support of this annual Green issue.
Editor in Chief