Wendy Cheng previews my upcoming book: Dream of the Water Children

cloyd - COVER - FINAL -v2

A Black-Japanese Amerasian reflects on life in the present, with the traces of wars and their aftermaths. 2Leaf Press is pleased to announce the publication of Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd’s first book, DREAM OF THE WATER CHILDREN, MEMORY AND MOURNING IN THE BLACK PACIFIC, in June 2016. In Dream of the Water Children, Fredrick Kakinami Cloyd delineates the ways imperialism and war are experienced across and between generations and leave lasting and often excruciating legacies in the mind, body, and relationships.

READ The Preview Here:   http://2leafpress.org/online/preview-dream-of-the-water-children-wendy-cheng/

Human Rights — dreams, contradictions, violence, and hope

 

Human Rights - AAASDNAposter

Human Rights is a mechanism that we need in our world, even though it is impossible. It is impossible because the nations that enforce and “protect” it, demand it, are the nations that committed genocide and exempt themselves from war crimes, fomenting distrust from other nations.

Internally, national and local police systems, judicial structures, school systems, and the dynamics of domestic life, maintain and create as well as change and make invisible, the contours of oppression and the hierarchies of the local culture, whether it be racial, gendered, class and caste-ist, homophobic and heterosexist, or along the lines of patriotic and nationalist. In this landscape, human rights becomes a distant ghost for some people and communities deemed outside those deserving rights, including those criminalized or made to become “insane.”  Who creates insanities and criminals but the dominant systems?

In this scenario, to argue for human rights is a spectacle, yet is necessary, fraught with contradiction, hope, despair, memory, and imagined futures.

CHINA Police - In Uygur minority Region - December 2014

CHINA Police – In Uygur minority Region – December 2014

 

 

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?

Social Justice is not………..

Some people are confused……confused about “social justice” and what it is.

I am not seeking to define it.  I am seeking to carve some intelligence into the word, term, concept, action.

So much of the US notion of social justice is from within the reality of living in the Empire.

It is a crumbling empire, no less.  But it is empire.

When Americans think of people who are “activists,” they think of a whole array of people who seem to be shouting out for things that they feel are morally right, necessary, necessary for their particular concerns and people and political persuasion.

Disconnectedness—it is one of the main effects of extreme individualism.  Individualism, is different from empowered individuality.  Individualism is somewhat of an ideology, something made superior.

With US concerns for individual freedom, communities suffer.  Since most white people and wealthy people in the US, as well as a good portion of the middle class and the homeless, do not think of themselves as being part of any community, it even gets more precarious when working with struggling for a different world. The legal structure and the institutions in the US, provide legal freedoms to some degree, for individuals.  For groups, communities, there is very very very little, if any, recourse.  Case after case is thrown out in favor of 5000 individuals having to file individual claims to right a wrong done to a whole community.  In most cases, these individual cases are drawn out over years.  For the economic and social underclass, funds run out and energy is sapped and the three jobs they may have to go to becomes priority.  The cases become weaker.  Or the powers hire the attorneys that are high-powered and block any power that the underclassed individual may have.

Disconnected individuals (a fair amount of “normal” and not-so-normal people in the US especially–and increasingly in all first-world countries) tend to sabotage works and solidarities and political commitments that could be good for everyone, or at least a larger population of different kinds of people of differing socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, genders and sexual orientations, etc., feeding into division and conflict, violence and rupture.  They become “identities” which are separate from other “identities.”  So goes the ongoing disconnectedness. But I do think there are those forces that create these isolations need rupturing.

And when we speak of activism, those people wanting their “rights” to privileges, and the right to maintain them, are put on equal footing with those fighting for difference, for survival.  Fighting to MAINTAIN PRIVILEGES is NOT social justice.  Privilege and how it operates, makes invisible and priority, over those who have and are considered less, must be looked at and actions taken in regards to what is seen and realized, for a “social justice” to actually happen.  In other words, as many US Americans seek to access privileges of something that is defined as the “freedom to get, the freedom to be….” social justice is diminished because privileges cannot afford an “other.”

Here, we see the link between what many Americans call “Freedom” and the middle class ideals.  As I’ve mentioned before, people often confuse the access to middle-class, European elite (white), masculine and militarized material, emotional and spiritual values, as “freedom.”   Then this gets confused with “Liberation.”  Going on vacations, to “get away from reality” and “rest”—which are bourgeois leisure ideals made socially dominant as a desire in life by elites during the colonial days between the 17th to 19th centuries, becomes somewhat like the popular confusion about “liberation” these days.  Social liberation means, in this scenario, some kinds of escape.  And then guess what? Things deemed “in the way” of this escape, is deemed as some word exaggerated and confused with non-liberation.  We learn to block anything that stands in the way (or seen as standing in the way) of our disconnected and individualized freedom to escape, as needing to be disappeared, violated, jailed, tortured, maimed, stopped, killed.  Psychologically, culturally, intellectually, with the variety of arms and weapons of mind, heart and body that we have learned in the system of continual disconnection and valorized individuality (above solidarity, community, living with difference).

So in these ways of thinking and thrusts of behavior that I have mentioned above, social justice is suffering.  It is definitely not dead or gone.  It is in pain.  It is in pain because fewer and fewer people have the inclination, desire, time, and/or energy, to struggle with self and community enough.  Fewer and fewer people have the creative thinking enough to get out of the box that the Empire holds us in.  As the social-political forces that we have all internalized, confuse us and run our bodies as “spectacles” —as Guy Debord (December 1931-November 1994, French postmodern philosopher) has pointed to for us, we have a harder time interpreting the difference.

It is made worse by the crash of cultures, values, times and places that are incoherent.  Incoherence is NOT THE PROBLEM!!  It is our inability to not do violence to incoherence that is the problem!!!!  We incorporate, assimilate, violate, manipulate, imprison, sequester, make sick, make knowable–and therefore no longer that thing itself but our own other interpretation of that thing–person–place–time) that we create.  Now the world seems smaller and more alike.  Less diversity.

Put them away, make them criminals, make it hard on them, annihilate them, torture them, jail them, make them sick, control those people and those communities, feel sentimental about it after they are dead, it makes us good and holy.  On and on.  Refugees from ourselves—as we see refugees and the stateless, as if all of us were states.  It’s a joke. But we have definitely internalized the state.  There’s no escape.  How about starting with a realistic assessment and then assessing how we may do things differently?

The reactionary definition of “community,” in the eyes of many individualists, is that communities are like herds of cattle and animals, without minds, aimless and not able to think for themselves.  This dualistic notion of community has been developed through years and centuries of learning that the communities our ancestors killed or destroyed in order to create the wealthy “global” in favor of an individualism that was able to “capitalize” on making money for itself (not others).  And furthermore, when we try to make communities and join them (because we sense our loneliness, disconnectedness and isolation), we (US Americans) tend to get very very uncomfortable with the differences, the conflicts, the games, the political jostling, and general psychological violence that is practiced in groups, no matter how lofty.  If we don’t feel those things, it is usually because we have learned to ignore–or perhaps learned to become oblivious because no one is bothering “ME–THE INDIVIDUAL” and this asserts a “satisfaction” in the name of escaping the difficulty of being together with others of differences, and also the higher position of being alone and therefore “trouble-free.”  This is an illusion.

Mourning but knowing that there are so so many in this world who understand enough and care enough about this in the world, to begin steps and to empower toward social justice.  It is arduous and difficult and tedious, but must be done.  Individual heroes will be squashed.  Communities of difference, across different backgrounds of histories, etc. must learn to come together without the escape mechanisms we have all learned well.  Empowering toward social justice is tedious, arduous, precarious, uncertain, not attainable in a finality, but is a pathway that is immensely more loving than the loneliness of dieing in an old folks’ home somewhere in a desolate urban landscape. Some are working now and we must work together, learn how to.  The rest will most likely just wait for those few to do the work while they enjoy the fruits of empire, and maintain global injustice.

Race-Nation-Gender-Class-Nation: Forget it. Never Forget it

Pat Parker (1944-1989), poet, teacher and activist, wrote this poem: For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend  and had this wonderful line:

The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.
Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

For any social difference that exists in any society, we can place it there, in the space of “Black.”   In any case, color-blindness, gender-blindness, mixed-space blindness, sexual orientation blindness, socio-economic class blindness, neighborhood blindness, body-size blindness, nationality blindness etc. etc. —  we have to pay attention to how quickly we may subsume, make invisible, refuse (ignore), make trivial, something that makes a difference.  Sameness is too valorized in the globalizing society.  It’s not about any particular choices we have in holding on and letting go—-because even this is an action and a series of action (holding or letting go, that is), that come from political positionings that rely on privilege, luck, ability, amount of trauma, fear, violence, and a host of other things that come from oppression and social constructions of society.

Let us not forget how completely and utterly different we are from each other.  This way, we truly understand diversity.  If we “understand,” then perhaps we do not understand difference at all.  We just consume, co-opt, and bring into our own history and culture and language and values, that OTHER.  This is a violence to that Other.

But in saying they are different, do we automatically become AFRAID?   Or do we automatically become ANGRY?  Do we automatically IGNORE?  Do we assume we can translate, communicate?   Yes we can communicate, but understanding its partiality is important.

Honor you.  Honor me.

In our difference.  Utterly different.  Utterly ourselves.  Yet somehow, we are related as humans, as that who has experienced pain.

Perhaps other things.  But do not assume equality.

Be human.

There . . . . . .  Can we allow difficulty, struggle, powerful connection and dissonance?

Angela Aki: “The Letter” 手紙 : Hapa Sensation in Japan

The Song TEGAMI  手紙 (the Letter) was a huge sensation in Japan in 2007.

It was sung by Hapa White-Japanese singer Angela Aki, who sings in fluent Japanese and English in many of her recordings.  The song Tegami, thrust Angela Aki into the limelight for its poignant and almost all-encompassing power to bring school children of junior and senior high schools across Japan in communicating its all-too-familiar message to encourage strength through alienation, loneliness, bullying, and the compulsory examination systems through which tremendous pressures are thrusted into the lives of the Japanese youth for its capitalist machinery.  This song touched millions.  It was also a social change, social consciousness project connected to money-making as well, let us not be mistakenly naive or purist.

In listening to the lyrics and the melody and emotion, it is clear that this song is moving and touches upon something deeply engrained, resisted, endured, and made to become something the youth of Japan (and other countries) must fight against with body and mind, in order to become something our global system of dominance deems “adult.”

It was written to encourage young teenagers in Japan, suffering from the pressures of society in those school years.

Masami Goto, of Japan National Public Broadcasting System — NHK, has this to say about this song (in 2007):

This year is the 75th anniversary of the NHK Schools Chorus Contest. We asked a popular singer-song-writer, Angela Aki, to write a compulsory song called Tegami (Letter) for the junior high school division. The song is based on a letter Angela Aki wrote as a senior high school student to her future self. A related project called Tegami starts in May, in which we ask junior high school students to send in their thoughts on this song and related personal anecdotes. Angela Aki visits junior high schools and interviews the pupils for a documentary feature that will be shown on General TV at 10:00 p.m. on May 9 and again in September. We have asked Naoki Award winning non-fiction writer Eto Mori to write lyrics for the compulsory song in the elementary school division, and an another author, Hiroyuki Itsuki, to do the same for the senior high school division.


 LYRICS (courtesy of:meheartdancing.livejournal.com)
 

The Letter


Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
Where are you and what are you doing now?

For me who’s 15 years old
There are seeds of worries I can’t tell anyone

If it’s a letter addressed to my future self,
Surely I can confide truly to myself

Now, it seems that I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?
This one-and-only heart has been broken so many times
In the midst of this pain, I live the present

Dear you,
Thank you
I have something to tell the 15-year-old you

If you continue asking what and where you should be going
You’ll be able to see the answer

The rough seas of youth may be tough
But row your boat of dreams on
Towards the shores of tomorrow

Now, please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice
For me as an adult, there are sleepless nights when I’m hurt
But I’m living the bittersweet present

There’s meaning to everything in life
So build your dreams without fear
Keep on believing

Seems like I’m about to be defeated and cry
For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear
Whose words should I believe in?

Please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear
During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear
Just believe in your own voice

No matter era we’re in
There’s no running away from sorrow
So show your smile, and go on living the present
Go on living the present

Dear you,
Who’s reading this letter
I wish you happiness

***********************************************

Romaji Lyrics

 TEGAMI

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata wa
Doko de nani wo shiteiru no darou

Juugo no boku ni wa dare ni mo hanasenai
Nayami no kanae ga aru no desu

Mirai no jibun ni atete kaku tegami nara
Kitto sunao ni uchiake rareru darou

Ima makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou na boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo
Shinji arukeba ii no?
Hitotsu shika nai kono mune ga nando mo barabara ni warete
Kurushii naka de ima wo ikiteiru
Ima wo ikiteiru

Haikei arigatou juugo no anata ni
Tsutaetai koto ga aru no desu
Jibun to wa nani de doko e mukau beki ka
Toitsu dzukereeba mietekuru

Areta seishun no umi wa kibishii keredo
Asu no kishibe e to yume no fune yo susume

Ima makenai de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiaru keba ii no?
Otona no boku mo kizutsuite
Nemurenai yoru wa aru kedo
Nigakute amai ima ikiteiru

Jinsei no subete ni imi ga aru kara
Osorezu ni anata no yume wo sodatete
La la la, la la la
Keep on believing
La la la, la la la,
Keep on believing, keep on believing, keep on believing

Makesou de nakisou de
Kieteshimaisou boku wa
Dare no kotoba wo shinji arukeba ii no?
Aa Makenaii de nakanai de
Kieteshimaisou na toki wa
Jibun no koe wo shinjiarukeba ii no
Itsu no jidai mo kanashimi mo
Sakete wa torenai keredo
Egao wo misete ima wo ikite yukou
Ima wo ikite yukou

Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata ga
Shiawase na koto wo negaimasu

..............

March 10: US Military, Race & Sex in Japan

CRG Thursday Forum Series presents…

DEPLOYMENT, BASES, AND

THE U.S. MILITARY IN MOVEMENT:

Imaginging Japan and the Self through Race & Sex

Thursday, March 10, 2011

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall

UC Berkeley

******

We Call It ‘The Rock’:

Circulating the Imaginary of Okinawa in the Military Diaspora

Mitzi Uehara Carter, Anthropology

My paper will explore how U.S. military personnel and their families, currently or formerly based in Okinawa (re)create and circulate narratives of Okinawa within military communities both in and outside Okinawa.  I will focus on how those narratives are shaped against their own identities as US soldiers, veterans, racialized/gendered citizens, spouses, and tourists within Okinawa.  Michael Taussig described the cultural productions of fear and the processes of sustaining Otherness in his work on colonial Colombia as a mix of  “Indian understandings of white understandings of Indians to white understandings of Indian understandings of whites.”  Likewise, I argue that Okinawan militarized and transnational space is a mix of military understandings of Okinawan understandings of US/mainland Japanese understandings to Okinawan understandings of military understandings of Okinawans.

This presentation will point to some of my general findings thus far, focusing on the framing of Okinawan difference.  For instance, I argue that local Okinawan difference from mainland Japan is emphasized and celebrated within military literature and welcome videos/blogs about Okinawa for military newcomers to Okinawa, a long used political and cultural tactic that was so effectively encouraged and orchestrated by US military administrators directly following WWII to try to quiet Okinawan dissent and slow the popular momentum to revert to mainland Japan.  However, when military and Okinawan relations are enflamed, the framing of difference is erased and the discourse shifts to a more global scale and fits in more with the US-Japan power bloc configuration of power.

~~~

Being a Black MP in Postwar Japan:

Memory and Identity through Resistance and Accommodation

as a Subaltern Occupier

Fredrick Cloyd, California Institute of Integral Studies, Anthropology

The positioning of the US as a victorious occupier over the subordinate and pliant people of Japan as the defeated was a carefully choreographed affair after WWII with its precursors in imperialism, colonialism, and neo-liberal capitalist expansionisms. In Japan and Okinawa, during and following the official occupation, steady anti-US violence by the Japanese was barred from being reported in the strictly controlled military and civilian media while the different racial groups in the Allied and US military were also living in violent relations with one another on and off bases in Japan, Okinawa and Korea. In this atmosphere of the occupation, my father re-imagined himself from poor African-American man to occupying military police. My mother wanted desperately to escape the ruins of Japan, both imaginatively and literally. In researching for a book on my family’s life and legacies, in thinking/writing nation, culture and race–colliding together through war and re(de)-construction, how has my father viewed himself through the lens of race and nation/husband and father? What becomes prioritized? What becomes linked with frames and thoughts previously unrelated? What becomes new forms of dominance and resistance that continue or resist certain forms of justice and survival?

Delicious refreshments served!

More info: http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/deployment-bases

CRG March10_flyer

Happy New Year – for blasians???

A New Year!! Another useful and constructed moment in our passing of life and time. Can we use it? And in using—what do we repeat? What do we do that we think is great but repeats some kind of problem? What do we do that would be fantastic if it weren’t for someone or something, some force–crushing it at its birth? What have we not thought of? What can we do if we’re too busy caught in traps of what we’ve inherited? What can we do if we’re too busy not acknowledging and perhaps honoring our ancestors and how they live in us? The photo on this blog is an example. The Black-Asian ‘beautiful’ is made into something. By what for what?

Celebrate and lament? I am happy for the new categories that now proliferate across America, then to the world, on identity formations, labels and then political jostling. Re-shuffle, renew, engage, dismantle….yes the new identity categories for mixed-race peoples are growing in our globalizing, corporatizing, shifting world. But people forget so easily, that each of our nations, countries, cultures, come from what has passed–what is good and bad. I, for one, wish that we would become more educated and more ethical. Knee-jerk, spontaneity is great but can also hurt, debilitate, crush, annihilate, make invisible, as well as create the ‘new.’ Too much speculative forms of intellectual play can disconnect, hurt, debilitate, crush, annihilate, make invisible, as well as constructing the ‘new.’

Just to mention the different labels and ways of being in the world with race and racial terrain, in culture and nation, subaltern and dominant, we have created many things. For those of us whose heritages are of African/Black and Asian, living in the US, there are now a host of different cultural and heritage labels: Blasian, Blackanese, Blambodian, Amerasian, Hapa, Blorean, Blietnamese, AfroAsian, Black-Asian, Japa-nigga, Blilippino, on and on and further. We can see, also in the US, that identity is often about ‘feeling happy with our self’ and wanting the world to ‘accept us.’ It’s almost always about the ‘self.’ Often, we may connect this to a color or race, memories. But where is social justice? I’m not talking about getting what we want in the USA. Is race and color enough for unity? And if it isn’t, then arent’ we participating in the very disconnecting, isolating structure of individualism – that is devoid of history? I’m all for individuality. But extreme individualism is often the result of the isolating ‘self’ and glorification of a hero-self; successful ‘self’, the happy ‘self’ and the perfect ‘self.’ In the US, often, this is how identity and life is supposed to be lived. Or it’s the nuclear family version of making our specific families happy, glorious, accepted.

In Japan, the self is assimilated into blending in, to doing what ‘Nihonjin-ron’ wants. Most Black-Japanese in Japan, for instance, are working in bars, as singers or are agents of entertainers and models. The most beautiful and ‘exotic’ looking ones are in singing and modeling. They are ‘forced’ into a version of ‘Blackness’ borrowed from Japanese images which are from the American commodified versions of Blackness. Indeed, in the US, most Blackanese struggle to be other than ‘only-Black.’ Often, I see Black relatives and friends of mine, accuse me and others I know that are Black and Asian mixed, of being afraid of or not proud or dismissing Blackness if we claim another heritage. “We’re BLACK.”

I’m afraid that those of us in my own generation, struggle to be part of the dialogue and mix on cultural heritage. This also means the PROXIMITY TO WAR CULTURE needs to be examined. Amerasians from Vietnam may be somewhat ‘better off’ in the USA but are still going through nightmarish existences under prejudice in Vietnam. Especially if one of their parents is Black. In Korea and Okinawa and the Philippines, there is the ongoing existence of American military bases. Around the bases, there are what is called ‘Base towns’- which have a culture all its own. Children of American military men and local ‘Asian’ mothers are plenty. Most of them without their fathers who have left their girlfriends with child. And there is the further reality of sex-work and survival for many of these women, who are stigmatized. The offspring of these women are ostracized and abused.

Laws, of course, don’t help in most cases. For instance, many of the children of Japanese mothers are considered STATELESS. They are nether citizens of Japan or the US, since they are born to single mothers. However, if they are children of JAPANESE MEN and American women, they are Japanese citizens. This creates horrific circumstances for both the mothers and the biracial children. Often, the US military refuses to take any responsibility for the tens of thousands of babies born to US military men and the local Asia-Pacific women. For Black-Japanese, Black-Okinawan, Black-Korean, Black-Filippino, Black-Vietnamese, Black-Cambodian biracial children, there are many hurdles and perhaps made impossible through the combination of local racism and anti-Americanism and both the local laws as well as US law.

I am a child born in the 50s in Japan, then able to come with my father and mother to the US in the 60s. I experienced tremendous violence in both Japan and in the US growing up. I also experienced tremendous support and love from certain individuals in both countries. I am a child whose proximities to World War II is very close. Those born in the 1940s and living, are even closer. Those born after these periods, still experience the residuals emotions and parenting from the parents and/or orphanages or foster homes or the streets in which their childhoods were formed. Many honor their fathers, but not their mothers. Or mothers are relegated to the label ‘war bride’ and are made tragic heroes who served lumpia or kimchi or takuan with some kind of ‘Black’ food and cuddled us at night. It’s an ‘exoticizing’ that works well into blending into American society, becoming entertainment for others to oggle us. It’s very gendered and unaccommodating to historical realities. When African-American men were fighting for their survival and dignity in the 1950s through 70s for civil rights in the US, it was a tremendous struggle. But for the mothers who often lived through devastation through bombings and then perhaps various ostracizing behaviors and abuses from their families and/or the general cultures, then perhaps experiencing displacement in coming to the foreign country, in fear and trepidation and confusion, then what is our family and how shall we honor?

Across generations, across proximities to wars and military bases, across gender, across nation and poverty and or wealth, across rank, across civilian/military divide, across language, how can we work together????? What is pride when it is not about raising our brothers and sisters in other places and other memories and existences? What about ourselves? Is becoming a middle-class success enough? In globalization, one of the key factors in globalizing, is FORGETTING. The reality of forgetting makes us weak, depressed, isolated, dishonoring, disconnected. Of course, there are some things that should be forgotten. However, there are things that some people cannot forget. Memory is in the body, forever there. For others in privilege, forgetting is normal and perhaps made superior. Often, we relegate social traumas (such as experiences of extreme violence, prejudice and war/genocide) to something that is abnormal and taken care of in therapy. It’s so convenient.

In the US, the victorious of World War II, the nation was created. People helped make bombs and planes. I am also grateful, lest Japan would have continued with their terrible weapons of imperial suicide. Now America plays out self-destruction. In being ‘Blasian’, or multiracial black-asian identity, what does this mean? So you are happy. Now what? What shall we do in this new year?

‘Taint’ – afro-japanese poetic musing & Point

TAINT

I exile myself from myself.  and YOU——-Don’t see yourself as…….Tainted.   If you do….you hide it and make me tainted and I see you Sad.   And that makes you see me angry, insane.  Impossible.

When I do, I’m home.   Home is exile.  Exile because there’s no way what you call ‘home’ can be mine.

And as if home doesn’t change, morph, move into something — always unrecognizable.  It’s too late for recognition.  But I will show you something and you will recognize it for what you think and feel and hear and taste.  My body is colonized by your gaze.

We’re people-of-color.  That’s an identity that’s tainted.  But without it I completely become white and Japanese and black. Colonized by those rules of walk, talk, understanding, dance.

When I choose my ‘own’ way, I know it’s not my own.  It’s been handed down.  If so, who gives a shit?

It doesn’t matter in this so-called ‘post-social’ world of ours….alienations and displacements where people who have had communities continued in another land, another space/time and call it ‘home’ will ————look down——-down——on me and those like me.  And we can pretend to be brothers and sisters because we share.  And some who don’t look down on me,  think we are equals.   No time/space, no legacy, no sekihan, cho-cho, miso shiru, barbecued ribs, konketsuji, nigger, left unconscious dead.   I’m not allowed.  So in that time where you cannot bear my pain and it is exiled into me, we SHARE ———the colonized mind.   But there are those who do share.  There’s no need for the pain, but there’s a need for allowing and alliance.

Can we ‘Be’——with our differences?   The thousand bombs and body-part explosions, mushroom clouds and slavery whips, and imprisonments of my ancestors and the occupation of my body in heterosexual mindscapes and border-guard territories———will NOT make you superior to me. Because you don’t remember.   Forever you may enslave yourself but I remain TAINTED in your result, your gun.  Your attitude-pistol that props you up WITH it.   Instead of takuan, I eat hamburgers in that place.  But I eat takuan uh huh.   Hungry.

Forever blackened in your multicultural superiority that pretends equality.   Forever not right.  Forever imprisoned.  No matter how many songs I sing to you, no matter how many silences and gentle hands, I’m only a big penis, a tawny muscle movement, a …a…..a….a.  some ‘THING’ that is compared to your utopia. Utopia……the unconscious colonial organ.

‘Thing’ yourself with your colonized mind, until you crave, then so so tired   tired     you start to see me.  Perhaps someday….we may actually touch beyond eyes here.  Right here, and between your complete and beautiful to my complete and beautiful.  Always it is part, incomplete, moving and dancing in time.  complete is incomplete always and beautiful, but justice moans. Then we understand that we are scarred.

Scarred and twisted in your so-called will to perfection.  That is perverted….tainted.  Just ‘being’ I am tainted because YOU are tainted.  Funny thing is…. there doesn’t need to be this———TAINT.  But what?

Taint me and I you.   Let’s walk y’all.