This Is Not The Time For “Shikata ga nai”
November 15, 2016
To our Nikkei and LGBTQIA family:
Tadaima–we’re still here, and we’ll continue to be here for you in the coming years. As an organization dedicated to creating safe spaces that connect members of the Japanese American (“Nikkei”) LGBTQIA community with their allies, Tadaima Bay Area was shocked and saddened to see our nation elect persons that were painfully public in their racist, homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic, and generally hateful rhetoric that hurt our community and family members. The implicit and explicit hate expressed at the polls has, in part, led to a spike in the number of hate crimes being reported since election day. Notably, California has reported the largest number of hate crimes since Tuesday, November 8, 2016 (Source: SPLC Hatewatch). Understandably, this change in environment has left many feeling unsafe and alone.
As Japanese Americans, we know what it is like when our voices are not represented in our government. A President may authorize the incarceration of citizens without due process, a Congress can ignore injustices and bless unconstitutional acts, and the Supreme Court can uphold such injustices for decades before being overturned (Example: Japanese American WWII Incarceration). Unlike the past, we now have a voice and a strong network of civil rights advocates–this is not the time for “shikata ga nai.”
The persons elected to our highest office threaten to endanger the safety of our transgender children through discriminatory bills known as “transgender bathroom bills”, and threaten to undo legal protections for the LGBTQIA community, such as same-sex marriage licenses, gender-affirming government IDs, non-discriminatory immigration laws, and reproductive rights. We enter 2017 in a country where 28 out of 50 states still do not fully protect workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers, and 30 states provide no legal protections for transgender persons (Reference: LGBT Equality Maps). It is imperative that we not leave behind the LGBTQIA members of the Japanese American community in the continuing fight for equal protection under the law.
Members of the LGBTQIA community came together during past waves of hateful rhetoric, including the AIDS crisis through the 1980s, and Proposition 8 in 2008. Japanese Americans are no different, helping form a pan-Asian movement for Vincent Chin in 1982, winning redress in 1988, and coming to the aid of American Muslims post 9/11. We were able to combat the negative sentiments of those times. We can do it again. This is our chance to be proactive rather than reactive. Stand tall and keep your head up. Stay proud of who you are.
As Tadaima, we promise to continue to support our Nikkei LGBTQIA community by providing resources and safe spaces for families and individuals to have meaningful discussions that help foster acceptance and understanding. Anyone who upholds the values of treating persons with dignity and respect are welcome to join us. We look forward to continuing the dialogue and building bridges to recognize our collective humanity.
We can do this.