Let Us Not Be Silent

The President’s “go back to your own country” tweets bring back bad memories of the racist schoolyard taunts that we grew up with. That these remarks are coming not from a schoolyard bully, but from the Office of the President, marks an enormously distressing shift in the culture intended to redefine what it is to be an “American.”

That directive is an insult meant to demean and delegitimize our presence in this country and perpetuates the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype about our race. It arises from a white supremacist sense of privilege and ownership. And it is deeply hurtful.

We belong here. We helped build this country and, despite the century of discrimination and racism we have encountered, we are not going away.

Let it be remembered that when 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were incarcerated in internment camps by their own country, the United States of America, it was done by labeling them as “enemy aliens.” Let’s also remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  “… In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Let’s not be silent.

~ Glen S. Fukushima (Chair), Dale Minami (President), Donald K. Tamaki

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