Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Alphawood Gallery debuts internment exhibition
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2017-07-05

This article shared 696 times since Wed Jul 5, 2017
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Seventy-five years ago President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order set in motion the forced removal and internment, without due process, of over 120,000 citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry living on or near the west coast during World War II.

For its first original exhibition Alphawood Gallery, in partnership with the Japanese-American Service Committee ( JASC ), debuted Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties at a June 28 opening reception.

The event featured keynote addresses by Japanese-American Citizens League Program Coordinator Rebecca Ozaki and Exhibition Curatorial Committee member and Fermalogic, Inc. COO Roy Wesley.

Alphawood Foundation Executive Director James McDonough kicked off the event by noting the Art AIDS America exhibit that was recently on display at the gallery.

"We wanted to continue telling important stories like that in this space," said McDonough. "We thought that this [Japanese-American incarceration] story was very important to tell especially at this moment in our country's history."

Chicago Commission on Human Relations Commissioner Mona Noriega read a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel who was unable to attend. In Emanuel's statement he noted the importance of remembering what happened to Japanese-Americans so it does not happen again.

Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly noted that this exhibit is a reminder to everyone how easy it is to demonize a group of people due to fear and ignorance.

JASC CEO Mike Takada echoed the others about how timely the exhibit is in this current political climate. He also talked about the JASC's involvement with the exhibit.

Wesley ( who spent the first two years of his life incarcerated with his family at Minidoka War Relocation Center in the Snake River Plain 17 miles northeast of Twin Falls, Idaho ) spoke about his family's immigration story from Japan to Portland, Oregon.

"My experience as a third generation Japanese-American, or sansei, is typical of many Japanese-Americans of my time," said Wesley. "My family immigration histories are also pretty typical of Japanese-Americans who came to America around the turn-of-the-century [in 1900]."

Wesley noted that all of his grandparents built lives rooted in American ideals that were passed along to their children, including his parents. He explained that his family's way of life was upended when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

"Dad was a 24-year-old president of the Portland Japanese American Citizens League ( JACL )," said Wesley. "JACL was fiercely patriotic then as it is today. He rebutted false accusations and rumors against the Japanese-Americans reported in the Oregon Journal and the Oregonian. He was interviewed by the newspapers and he also testified to the Tolan Committee on behalf of the community to prevent incarceration.

"Dad served on the Portland auxiliary fire department and the police department. He trained and marched with the police. He guarded bridges in the middle of the night in case there was an enemy invasion. It's amazing that he was able to do that in spite of the hysteria against Japanese-American citizens at the time. He also assisted the FBI in identifying Japanese Issei loyalists. He saw this as his patriotic duty."

Wesley noted that everything his father did was in vain because of the prejudice, hate and discrimination against Japanese Americas at the time.

"I was born on May 5, 1942—the last day we were ordered to go to the Portland Assembly Center," said Wesley. " Dad had to apply to the War Relocation Authority for an exemption because of my birth. Mom and I had three days at the Good Samaritan hospital before being taken into the Portland assembly Center ... I was born and immediately became a suspect enemy alien capable of sabotage and had to be locked up behind barbed wire and guarded by rifle toting soldiers in case I tried to escape."

Wesley explained that his father was able to leave the camp to go to college ( he did this even though he already had his Doctor of Optometry degree ). He said his dad chose Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and that is when he changed the family name from Uyesugi to Wesley after the founder of the Methodist church. Wesley noted that his parents, especially his mother, never recovered from their time in the incarceration camp.

"Remember James Baldwin's words from I Am Not Your Negro," said Wesley. "'History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we literally are criminals.'"

Ozaki read her late grandfather's ( Sam Ozaki ) 1981 Redress testimony where he recounted his time at the Jerome War Relocation Center in southeastern Arkansas beginning when he was 17 years old.

"My grandpa was the first Asian American principal in Chicago, a beloved community activist and my best friend and hero," said Ozaki. "He was one of the only people I ever felt truly listened to me. He made a decision to speak out against the injustice that was done to him and the injustice that continues to target communities of color and marginalized groups in this country."

Ozaki noted that because her grandfather stood up and spoke about his story in 1981 and later at a Day of Remembrance event commemorating the signing of Executive Order 9066 shortly after 9/11 she was able to understand what resistance means.

When her grandfather said "We will never let it happen again" at the commemoration event she said those words became ingrained in her mind.

"They have come to guide my own path as an aspiring organizer and advocate," said Ozaki. "More recently I remember my feeling of helplessness as a string of Executive Orders were released ... That the unconstitutional Muslim ban spawns from the same hate and fear politics as my family's history of incarceration. And the mass incarceration and brutality against Black bodies also parallel my family's story ... I had to find my place in this movement ... We need to remember that we are part of a collective resistance and so many of us have the same vision of an equitable future ... My act of resistance is sharing my family's story of incarceration ... I urge you to find yours."

Among the over 200 attendees were two survivors of the incarceration camps—Yuki Hiyama and Chicago Japanese-American Historical Society President Jean Mishima.

Hiyama ( who was taken with her family when she was 13 years old to Manzanar War Relocation Center at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California's Owens Valley ) explained that she did not know it was an incarceration camp because they were one of the first families to arrive. She said her older brother volunteered to go to Manzanar so that is how her entire family ended up there. Hiyama noted that they had to make their own mattresses out of hay. She explained that her older sisters were married to servicemen and lived in Chicago. In order for them to leave the camp and come to Chicago her sisters got their father a job at the Hilton Hotel as a chef. This was in 1944.

Mishima ( who was taken with her family when she was six years old to Gila River War Relocation Center 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, Arizona ) said at the time she did not realize they were incarcerated but as an adult she learned the truth. She explained that they got permission to leave the camp in 1944 when her mom got a job in Chicago. Mishima noted that Chicago was one of the welcoming cities for Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Tatsu Aoki and The MIYUMI Project provided the evening's entertainment.

See related story on Wesley here http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Chicagoan-looks-back-on-concentration-camps-for-Japanese-Americans/58294.html.

The exhibit AlphawoodGallery.org/exhibition/ runs from June 29 to Nov. 19. Admission is free.

The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.



This article shared 696 times since Wed Jul 5, 2017
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Jonathan Ned Katz talks new book, LGBTQ history, state of the world
2021-05-05
Author, historian and activist Jonathan Ned Katz will come out with a new book, The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams, on May 18. The biography is centered on the life of Adams, a Jewish lesbian immigrant, and also ...


Gay News

Home of LGBTQ pioneers Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin first San Francisco lesbian history landmark
2021-05-04
--From a press release - SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance authored by District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman to designate the former home of pioneering LGBTQ and civil rights activists Phyllis Lyon ...


Gay News

Northalsted plans to hold Market Days Aug. 6-8
2021-05-04
The Northalsted Business Alliance plans to host Market Days August 6-8, adding a Friday night edition, the first in its 38-year history. As vaccinations increase and Illinois begins planning for stage 5 reopening, organizers of the ...


Gay News

National Black Justice Coalition honors the life of Monica Roberts
2021-05-04
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) celebrates the life and accomplishments of Monica Roberts, a revered transgender journalist, activist, and founder of the award-winning publication TransGriot. ...


Gay News

1971: The Chicago Daughters of Bilitis
2021-05-03
Excerpt from Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life - An excerpt from Chicago After Stonewall: Gay Lib to Gay Life, a new book by St Sukie de la Croix. You can buy the book from Amazon.com, all good bookstores, and for a signed copy, rattlinggoodyarns.com ...


Gay News

Victory Institute launches LGBTQ political history website
2021-04-30
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Institute — the only organization dedicated to identifying and supporting LGBTQ public leaders — released its new website "Pride & Progress: A history of LGBTQ political power in the United ...


Gay News

Hate mail threatening Obamas, Biden, Harris sent to DuSable
2021-04-28
The Secret Service is investigating six threatening letters sent to the DuSable Museum of African American History that mention President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Obama family, among others, The Chicago Tribune reported. ...


Gay News

Chicago Cultural Center historic interiors to be restored for June reopening
2021-04-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced the historic restoration of the landmark Chicago Cultural Center to reclaim two lost interiors decorated by the ...


Gay News

Hall of Fame honors 21 LGBTQ elected and appointed leaders
2021-04-19
--From a press release - Washington, DC — On Sunday, May 2 during a virtual event, LGBTQ Victory Institute will launch its LGBTQ Victory Hall of Fame to honor the LGBTQ elected officials, appointed officials and candidates who made a lasting ...


Gay News

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics hands out Dorian Awards
2021-04-19
--From a press release - LOS ANGELES, CA, April 18, 2021 — Nomadland, the spare and fact-based drama of a group of struggling Americans living off the grid; the vivid blueswoman biopic Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; the family-happy fish-out-of-water fable Minari; ...


Gay News

Windy City Times publishes book of historical newspaper covers
2021-04-12
Windy City Times newspaper, founded in 1985, is publishing a limited-edition, four-color book featuring hundreds of covers from its own archives, plus covers from other LGBTQ Chicago media, including Outlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida, Identity and ...


Gay News

Windy City Times publishes book of historical newspaper covers
2021-04-14
Windy City Times newspaper, founded in 1985, is publishing a limited-edition, four-color book featuring hundreds of covers from its own archives, plus covers from other LGBTQ Chicago media, including Outlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida, Identity and more ...


Gay News

GLAAD Media Awards honor creative forces of change in media, culture
2021-04-09
--From a press release, video below - Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, April 8, 2021 — GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, tonight hosted a virtual ceremony to announce the award recipients of the 32nd Annu ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ History Podcast Queer Serial launches third and final season
2021-04-07
--From a press release - Queer Serial, the acclaimed LGBTQ+ history podcast produced and hosted by 2021 GLAAD Award nominee Devlyn Camp, returns Monday, April 12, with its final season. Season 3 picks up in 1963, as militant gay activists, taking ...


Gay News

465+ feminist leaders sign open letter in solidarity with trans women and girls
2021-03-31
--From a GLAAD press release - More than 465 feminist leaders sign open letter standing in solidarity with transgender women and girls in honor of Women's History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility. The letter, organized by GLAAD & Raquel Willis, comes ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.