MY BOOK – Coming Fall 2014

1 - Web Version

My Book will be released this Fall 2014, by 2Leaf Press!!

Introduction by Gerald Horne

Foreword by Velina Hasu Houston

Cover Art by Kenji Chienshu Liu

Here are just a few preview comments about the book:

Fredrick Douglas Kakinami Cloyd has written a profoundly moving and thought-provoking book. He courageously challenges our neat categories of identity, going beyond broadening our understanding of mixed race to touch what is human in all of us. This book will shift readers’ perceptions and assumptions and may change many lives. Above all, Cloyd is a master story-teller who honors and respects memory.

–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian and writer

This is a mature book that moves fluidly, as the mind moves, untroubled by traditional distinctions between writing considered to be academic vs. creative, memoir vs. personal essay, sure-footed in unexpected ways. This genre-bending book is not “experimental writing.” The author knows what he wants to say and he knows how he wants to say it, seeking, in his own words, “restoration and reclamation” for silenced voices and histories never erased because they have not yet been written. Dream of the Water Children demands that its reader rigorously consider the constructed nature of memory, identities, and historical narrative. And it is also an enormously kind and passionate chronicle of a son’’s long journey with his mother. To read it is to marvel, to learn, and to discover anew what surrealist poet Paul Éluard said: “There is another world, but it is in this one.”

–Patricia Mushim Ikeda
    Buddhist teacher / activist
    Oakland, California

Can be read as a ghost story, a meditation on how to disassemble the heartbreak machines; a catalog of copious tears and small comforts. This is a challenging example of personal bravery and filial love. It puts the “more” in memory.

–Leonard Rifas, Ph.D
   Communications, University of Washington

2Leaf Press Book LINK: http://2leafpress.org/online/dream-water-children/

Upcoming Presentations I’m doing!

0 Reveries 250

October 26, 2013

8:00 pm

Reveries and Rage: On Colonization and Survival

Presenting with other Queer and Trans people against colonization

‘Dream of the Water Children’ Reading

at Audre Lorde Room, Women’s Building, Mission District, San Francisco

Tickets: $10-15  (Click here)

 

 

0 njahs lo

November 2013

1:00 pm

Generation Nexus: Peace in the Postwar

Artists’ Exhibition and Panel Discussion

National Japanese American Historical Society, Building 640 Learning Center

(at Controversial Military Intelligence Learning Center)

Presidio, San Francisco, CA

November 17: Exhibit Opening (I will have a kiosk with other artists)

November 23: Artists’ Panel Discussion on Peace in the Postwar

Great POST by Mauro Sifuentes – Defining from where we are speaking

My colleague on his blog, has written a very straightforward piece, defining some terms.  When reading posts and comments, those of us who have invented/invested time, energy and commitment into the techniques of oppression that we and others practice as individuals, communities, groups, organizations, nations, etc., it cannot be taken for granted that we are speaking about the same things in the same way.

Especially terms that are ‘loaded.’  The issue is that when people bring certain words up, there are shields and defenses and attacks.  There is a wall that goes up.  When you, the reader, are reading my posts, please understand that all language has underpinnings and differences and purposes, no matter how ‘common’-sounding.

So Mauro Sifuentes has done a fantastic job in presenting what I feel/think/understand to be what I am speaking of when I talk about racism, for instance.  Other ‘ism’ terms are similar.  The issue is how our ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ emotions about these things, work to protect ourselves from being ‘bad’ and therefore not dealing with how it works as a STRUCTURE, not ‘inside’ like some kind of cancer.  That is the common psychological language that keeps people in denial about how the structure is what we live within, through, with, as, and also in resistance to these ‘ism’-forms in various ways and amounts and intensities.

People who have been a target of isms, and have experienced more violence, and/or have seen it expressed upon others through physical, emotional, institutional, legal, military, and other ways in which violence is transmitted, will feel more urgency.

There are many factors in the maintaining of oppression that we practice everyday ‘without meaning to.’

Being mobile, being ‘good,’ equalizing, making people feel good, charity, and a whole host of other things have links to oppression (they aren’t necessarily maintaining, but play their part).  For example, being mobile–both physically and emotionally/mentally/spiritually, are conventient roads to escape and deny.  Being mobile is connected to privilege (some can move further and faster and easier than others due to socio-economic class/caste, race, gender, nation, etc.).

Individualism itself, embedded in individualities and corporate capitalism and western religious ideals, are also a factor in how racism and sexism and heterosexism, for instance, functions.  In other words— have we, as persons, grappled with how our individual sense of self, our individual lives and philosophies, are individualistic, or alienating, or isolating, or without history of community, etc.?  We are individuals, yes.  But individualism is not the same as individuality,  Individualism privileges American-centric, capitalist, community-destroying forms of relations.  Individuality is another thing altogether.

The issue of the ‘survival of the fittest’ in relation to science and progress, is very much an unquestioned aspect of the ignorance and escape from dealing with racism by the so-called ‘good’ people.  So the targets are sad, crazy, or cured through therapy.  The other end is that the targets are all equal to us and these are just isolated events that can just be taken care of with ‘don’t worry, be happy’ or with the understanding that an ism effects ‘them’ and not ‘me’ so I will feel sorry and do what I can for ‘that friend’ or ‘community’ but it really is their business and not ours.

One, and perhaps the most important point of Mauro’s posting, is forgetting and alive-ness.  Being alive is mere surviving when it is cut-off from history.  Our forgetting of where we’ve come from and the processes that create our current world is a primary reason why our lives are the way they are and increasingly smaller and smaller–personal joy and expression and comfort.  This fits in with the current state of the cultural malaise of the ‘meaning of life’ that has been trained into us in the United States, globalizing itself.  Colonialism plays out continually through us and our values.

They are not really ‘our’ values.  However, they are dependent on our forgetting the patterns and structures and powers that create our world and what we have to do or not do, survival, happiness, understanding and knowledge. Or not.

Understanding is the first open light towards change.

Here is the link to Mauro Sifuentes’ post:  Turning Our Backs On History: Internalized Racism and Class Oppression

Video: Japanese Traditional Dance: Awa Odori – 阿波踊り

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Japan is a festival land.

There are many festivals throughout the year, some national, some regional, with most having ties to communal and/or ethnic memory and traditions that have long become non-ethnic and homogenized in Japan’s march toward joining the world community of nations.

Today, many young Japanese are only beginning to learn that Okinawa ‘may have not been’ a version of a Japanese identity, or that the Buraku and the Ainu people exist, or that Zainichi Koreans have had a precarious relationship to the Japanese nation in relation to what the mainstream has been taught.

Like most first-world nations today, National Festivals and associated dances have their origins in communities resisting the onslaught of the nation-builders, dominant clans that would massacre them and keep them controlled. Now they are part of a ‘mosaic’ of ‘traditional Japanese’ dances and festivals, where before, they may have been resisting that ‘Japanese’ identity, which comes from an amalgamation, like other national identities, of particular groups of allied ethnicities and clans.

Many festivals have their origins in religious or post-war and post-battle strategies of appeasement toward certain communities after battle.  Other festivals have roots in religious ceremonies in relation to the natural cycles of life or to honor gods and goddesses, while others have links with farmers and fishermen and bounty.  Still others are ceremonies of survival and empowerment. In more than a few instances, they are a combination of these named situations, and more.

Many of these meanings have lost their focus in modern Japan.  Most of the festivals and dances, of course, have needed to keep up with urbanization and modernization.  This also includes Japan’s notion of itself as a homogenized, unified nation of a single people.  The ‘other,’ then, are named legally other in laws and are distinctly excluded from nation, through micro-regulations, etc, much like most other nations of our present world.

Consequently,  these beautiful dances, are sometimes left to signify and represent ‘artistic beauty’ or exoticism and entertainment, merely a personal ‘fun’, perhaps. Many of these dances have their origins in Okinawa, Kagoshima, and from the Ainu, and/or other areas and communities that were nationalized through colonization in earlier times (and ongoing today as ‘minority’ communities). Many elders and well-thought younger persons, who have significant memory and links to what has been lost and what it has cost to maintain these dances and songs, feel these motions and tones, music and forms in a way much deeper than how most mainstream Japanese today may feel them.  Put another way: Japanese may be proud of these festival dances, and may even revere these traditions, but understand them as only a singular “Japanese” tradition from sometime long ago, through homogenized singular national ethnic myths or national versions of wars fought and natural disasters, stripping them of the uniquely diverse and possibly terrifying and most often empowering histories that point to people and communities that are not even recognized or trivialized.

In nations as old as Japan, what pre-figured (existed before) a “Japan,” is inside of these traditions. They are now considered ‘preserved Japanese traditions.’  In this way, it is a way for the people in the present, to feel their continuities and ancient histories, even though they are merely named ‘Japanese’ in the modern era.  Thus, a “Japanese-ness” could be crafted by way of naming these festivals and songs and dances, as ‘traditions of nation.’  They are, and they are not.  They may also signify resistance to nation, by communities and clans and ethnicities that were eventually assimilated into the Japanese nation.  For this reason, it is important that these traditions are preserved and empowered.

This video is of an excellent performance group performing in August of 2012.

This style of dancing is called ‘Awa Odori’ 阿波踊り.   The Awa Festival is a 3-day festival celebrated on Shikoku in Japan, in August, as one of the hundreds of events celebrating O-Bon  お盆 (National Buddhist Festival honoring the Dead). Awa, is the old term from the middle ages, naming what is today–Tokushima prefecture. This style of dancing is believed to have begun in the late 1500s.

A fairly good overview of the Awa dance and festival is at wikipedia.

Today, most watch the thousands of trained dancers in parades through the streets.  Originally, Everyone in the community would dance together.  Today, most people feel too embarrassed to dance or say they ‘can’t’ (internalized oppression in the nation-state).  People listen to and watch these dancers in parades and in one or more the hundreds of performances on the streets and in entertainment halls.  There are, however, many smaller celebrations where some choose to participate themselves, accompanied by the traditional instruments (flute, shamisen, bells, taiko drums).

When history is lost and manipulated by various forces in nation-making, ideas become contested along the lines of haves and have-nots, and what is ‘best for the nation.’  When reading histories of the Awa-Odori, its religious and communal roots and relations to nations are fairly clear, yet bring up many questions and silences.

In any case, this performance of Awa-Odori by this group is wonderful.  The clip contains short snippets of a few of the performances, where one can see the beauty of this form of Japanese dance.  Each hand gesture, finger movement, leg and foot movement, degree of bending and leaning, signifies something.  One can see the elements of nature (mountains, wind, oceans, etc.) in these movements and gestures.

I always remember these dances from childhood and remember them as more than just something ‘pretty.’  There is history in these dances, no matter how urbanized and nationalized and homogenized they are.  They retain that spark of beauty, grace, and some of its original forms.

Massacres, Democratic Societies, Colonization

This is a very short opinion piece on the massacre leading, so far, to 12 deaths — as of today, considered “one of the worst mass crimes in recent history” which occurred in Aurora, Colorado.

First, I want to remind readers that my perspectives are on social justice and social change and looking at history and relations of power, accumulations of dominance and resistances that create our lives.  I do not, detract from the deep sorrow and anger I feel, in various ways, about how this has occurred and the deaths and injuries and traumas that have come about.

This piece is very short and meant to be evocative, provocative.  I never speak of final conclusions and opinions that close off things and ideas.  I do not speak from a psychologized, or Christian or Muslim moral perspective, where “Good versus Evil” and “Crazy versus Sane” binaries rule.  I do NOT start there, nor do I begin there.  Those moralities and structures of dividing individuals, societies, dreams, and ideas, are not something I care to participate in.  Nor do I think they lead to social change or social justice.  Moral and Psychologized binaries always —ALWAYS– lead to more incarceration and more killing, more death sentences, more self-superior kinds of ways of dealing with the complexities of our lives.

Revenge and Roman gladiator coliseum mentalities still rule much of public emotion and reasons for setting up our “civilized” laws in a now globalizing colonizing mentality.  Disciplining and punishing (yes, I mean to evoke Michel Foucault’s famous book on the matter of internalizing violent structures through prison architecture).

In popular imagination, especially in the US, we have been culturally self-taught to believe that emotions are emotions and there are the sick and the unsick, the civilized and the uncivilized, the cruel and the nice, the crazy and the sane, the good and the bad.  We deal with it through the idea of either redemption and rehabilitation, and/or punishment or a combination.  Sequestering and putting to death.  Our creativity is gone.  What rules are the moralities we think are deep and real and true, and the moralities and spiritiualities and psychologies that we think we know and maintain and protect so dearly, even at the cost of arguments and fights at the dinner table and the ex-communication from groups, of friends and family-members that we love.

Let’s face it, modern civilization suffers from the “being right and good” syndrome.  Since we supposedly know these things, or can rely on “experts,” we make EASY EASY conclusions.  This means we don’t have to think.  We have lost the necessity for complex thinking.  Simple-mindedness is often valorized in US societies.  Being “Real” is often how this is languaged.

People want answers.

To have answers, means that any answer, any answer, will lead to further questions and further answers. I do not believe that things have “finished.”  Nor do I believe that the massacre that occurred “began” within James Holmes, the violent accused shooter at the movie theater in Aurora, or only within the shooters who killed at the 1999 Columbine High School spree in Colorado, or within the killer in Norway at the campsite approximately one year ago.  Yes these rampage killers are the carriers and shooters.

I have been just as saddened, in addition to the shooting and the deaths, at hearing the news reports and talk shows and reading the various articles across the board, in the US and in English language mostly everywhere, on how so many people around the world have begun to think alike on subjects such as death and life.

The same tired reactions and words and phrases and platitudes and moralities have circulated.  The same things I heard just after Columbine shootings and just after other mass rampage shootings, are being publicized and circulate.  We listen to the moralities of Left and Right politicians.  We listen to the church leaders and Hollywood personalities and song stars and talk show hosts.

It’s saddening.

People who shoot come from each one of us.  As we go shopping and care or not care for our own children and friends, as we say or not say things everyday, as we care and don’t care about certain people, we isolate.  In isolation, we accumulate cruelties that circulate.

Picking oneself up by the bootstraps–as an individual–is a norm nowadays.  Being normal, we do not question how it looks and how we perform these things.  In short, we are responsible for the violences that occur in societies.

We want the already-cruel, legalistic, bureacratic, psychologized, condescending, moral institutions to take care of “those people” so we can continue with our lives, as if our lives were rich and meaningful.  We try, but often we are fooling ourselves.  And further, we forget that we are fooling ourselves, convinced of our sureness, our goodness, our moralities.

The more thoughtful and intelligent people and thinkers and artists, have warned that our societies are in a deepening and darkening place.  It is not “normal” or “natural” or a product of “God.”  It is because each of us are not putting enough of our intelligence and creativity and strength into the complexities and changes required to take care of ourselves.  Almost everything these days, are in the hands of institutions.  When this happens, our own thinking is constricted, assimilated, and quite unresponsive to what is required.

People nowadays talk of being “smart” but who speaks of being “wise?”  Wisdom is something people don’t even understand anymore, from where I stand.  Compassion is seen only as something sentimental and kind and somewhat condescending.  Ooooh….you poor thing.   For those people like James Holmes and other people such as the Aum Shinrikyo Religious leader in Japan, who led the group to kill in the Japanese subways, we are not supposed to have compassion for “them.”

In this way, we ourselves are divided within ourselves.  We can learn a bit from some of the writings of Buddhism, where compassion is not compassion without the sword that cuts through bullshit and delusion.  It is strength.  And Wisdom is a cold and calculating “Rationality” that views itself “higher” in the presumed hierarchy of human experience than compassion and kindness and that it is an “opposite” quality – and therefore sometimes “in the way” of “true” wisdom.  Being “irrational” is the same as being insane, for many people, or a lower and “feminine”way that is unwanted.  This is left over from the Victorian era and mass colonization, the destruction of the feminine and the enshrining of SEXISM into our moral structures.  It keeps things rational and therefore these things are artificially separated into separate compartments.  In Buddhism, this must be seen through.  Wisdom is not wisdom without compassion.  Compassion is not compassion without wisdom.

The hierarchies that we perform in our lives are lived out in how we foreground something or background something, how we ignore some things while prioritizing others, how we know some things and how we perform with this unknowing. If contradictory things arise simultaneously, or are complex in any way, we may label it “confused” or “ambiguous” and therefore unwanted.  We “kill” an other.

First we must assume/presume, create that “other” that must be squashed and put away or looked-down upon.  Whether it be communities, people, beliefs or ideas, or ways of living and thinking, the civilized first-world nations and now almost every nation, has their own ways of doing this game of dominance and oppression.  To ourselves within us, to each other, and to that other.

Massacres and rampages are certain forms of the outcome of this, in a sociological angle.  No matter how we “understand” James Holmes, we still do not understand or accept what we have become and how, not James Holmes and the other monsters that WE CREATE through ignorance and uncaring, sentimentality and cold rationality, self-created moralities.

Massacres and rampages will continue because we as a society, ignore their causes.  The causes are not located in the individual that perpetrates, so that institutions can make money and gain credibility through scientific study, therapies and incarceration and death machines.  The society that created that person or persons who perpetrated, is us.  There are a myriad of causes and conditions we must deal with.

The violences we do, come also as ripples from the violence of our nation-state.  War and genocide built this nation, as much as resistance to dominance.  How we face up to uneasy complexities of nation and individual, various shades of history within us, is a big question. We must face how we have internalized the nation.  Americans feel that nationalism is what others do, but never acknowledge it within their own selves and lives and the structures of cultural realities.

And still, there are those who are deeply Christian, even if they are not religious at all, or even believe in religion.

I speak of how so many think that humanity is “inherently” evil, or bad.  Originally all humans are like this, according to that one snippet of Christianity.  Psychologically, a person usually internalized this from the structures (moralities and behaviors) of our cultures.  Colonization, first of this land in the US, and globally, has spread this kind of internalized oppression and made it normal.  Even the “good” things we do are meant to destroy good because in a deep deep place, there is that thought that we are “no-good” and we “always mess things up” and that the world is dark.  This is reinforced by modern socio-economic systems that delay and thwart our dreams, keep us slaves to the machine of money-making and money-spending.  We have to pay for WATER!!!  But hardly anyone is protesting on a mass scale.  Paying for water is not a “natural outgrowth of history or God.” Or we know this, but tell ourselves that it is futile to resist,  like it’s some act outside of human power and human privilege and the power of those that make the rules of violence. This his how we are responsible for giving the worst kinds of power and isolation and killing, their dominance in society.

There are many who are sensitive, very sensitive to what I’m saying.  Some act out. It cannot be suppressed for too long.

Yes there is danger.  But it doesn’t happen by itself.  Rampage killers are created by our society.  We must take care. If they are monsters, so are we.  We are intimately linked to what is happening.

Things can change.  But there needs to be further energy to make those changes.  But I’m afraid that there are so many people who are purposefully or by proxy–sadists, that social change will be slow in coming.  By this, I mean that there are so many people who divide the world into victim and perpetrator, and that there is joy in seeing someone put to sleep or put away into prison so they feel safe….not understanding that these are lives. The subconscious internalized colonization operates: I love it that they are in prison!  I love it that they have been put to death! Or… I don’t like it but they deserved to be tortured.  Some people won’t learn without violence.  What goes around comes around.  All the platitudes of our democracy.

All the sadism passing as superior morality.  All the violence.

Prisons and mental institutions and hospitals and psychiatrists’ offices.  These four things seem to be the ONLY THINGS many people think of, that will take care of society.

I say, each one of us do.  It is a painful request and a painful process to undertake.  Listen to ourselves, we are not easy and we don’t agree.  This is precise place where we must start.  Others cannot be convinced.  So what do we do?

She Who Fought Dictators with Her Voice: Mercedes Sosa and “Todo Cambia”

Mercedes Sosa (July 9, 1935 – October 4, 2009) can be remembered as one of the most memorable, famous, and great singers of the 20th century.   She was known as “La Negra” — the Black One, symbolizing the fact that she often sang for and with, giving voice to, those that are “darker,” and “blacker” –who are now expendable in a global structure, silenced and shunned.

She spent much of her life in prison, then had to live in exile from her homeland because of her leftist views.  She united many music aficionados across South America and in Europe by singing her native Argentinian folk songs as well as those of Cuba and Brazil, often singing of heartache. longing in their connection to loss, politics, and cultural survival.

Here, the video is one of my favorite songs by her: Todo Cambia, (Everything Changes).

I thank Nancho21 who uploaded this nice video on Youtube and I offer an edited version of the translation below the video.

What is superficial changes
What is profound also changes
The mind changes
Everything changes in this world.

The traveler changes his way
Even if this harms him
And just like everything changes
That I change is not strange

Change, everything changes
Change, everything changes

The sun changes its path
When the night prevails
The plants change and dress
in green in Spring

The beast changes its fur
The old man changes his hair
And just like everything changes
That I change is not strange

Change, everything changes
Change, everything changes

But my love does not change
Regardless of the distance
or the memory or the pain
Of my land and my people

What changed yesterday
Will have to change tomorrow
Just as I change
In this distant land

Everything changes
Everything changes
Everything changes
Everything changes

Video Trailer: ”Tokyo Ainu 東京アイヌ”

The Ainu people are a people who have inhabited the northern regions of Japan and what might be called Russia by some, as well as the areas now disputed, between Japan and Russia.  The Ainu are a caucasian group who were, as per the everyday norm of today’s most well-known nations, displaced and killed (physically, or culturally/spiritually) and assimilated (which to me, are all forms of killing in some way), what nations do to those who are different to create a “majority.”

This new documentary focuses on the Ainu people who are living in Japanese cities.  In this documentary, the focus is on those living in Tokyo.