Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Mama – Remembering

ママ、本当に感謝していますよ。あの世はこの世より優しいでしょ? さよなら。

I am always remembering. I am always with her.  I have also let her go. She raised and protected me, even midst all that she had been through: bombings by the United States, death and destruction; the depression and devastation of the postwar while the U.S. and allies bulldozed and built the military bases and then ruled the Japanese.  Censorship, fights and relationships with African-American and white men and women of the military; hunting for her sister’s body in Hiroshima that never came to fruition; falling for Americans, meeting my father;  giving birth to me and raising me amidst the mean stares and verbal and physical abuse by Japanese for being the mother of a “love child” and a “mixed-blood” and “black” child.  Experiencing her friends go to jail or commit suicide, go hungry; coming to America, learning to live in American culture, enduring Americans’ prejudice against “Japs,” learning to be herself in America and taking care of herself; being kind, gentle, tough, raging, funny as hell, being wise.

For this Mother’s Day この母の日に

 

 

ママ、1929年  (?)  に生まれ、2011年 9月17日にあの世へ去って行きました。この母の日、日々と変わらず、ママの優しさと怒鳴り声が心を休ましてくれる。どうもありがとう。

On this Mother’s Day, Like any day, My mother’s kindness as well as her commanding words, renders my heart calm. Born in 1929(?), and passing to the other world on September 17, 2011.  Thank you Mama.

In honor this year, I repeat my poem for her, that was featured in the Generation Nexus: Peace in the Postwar Era exhibit at the Presidio in San Francisco from November 2013 to April 2014: http://njahs.org/640/portfolio/generation-nexus-peace-in-the-post-war-era/, and published first, in Kartika Review, Spring Issue 2012: https://issuu.com/kartikareview/docs/kartika_issue12, and in Inquiring Mind – Issue on War & Peace Poetry: http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/WarPeacePoems.html.

 

                   For Kiyoko, Epitaph/Chikai *

Mama’s silent hand in mine         we remember traverse

history’s ten million wars.

Her Last breath            passes through me

survival’s constant fire.

I, her             Occupier’s baby

tremble in        black    yellow       through tombs

        ancient colors

falling

bombs          Mama          persimmon blossoms.

Time after time            Kiyoko becomes

sword

           desire

         wounds

   rain.

 

* Chikai: Vow, promise (in Japanese language). Without Kanji characters and written in hiragana or katakana, this can have the meanings near, close as well as basement or cellar. So ‘Chikai’ means: a promise, a vow, near, closeness, the cellar (which connotes things put below and kept as momentos, memories, the forgotten, the forsaken). Historical and personal continuities, relics, secrets, baggage, intimacy, preciousness.

 

Join ‘Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies – 2018 Symposium’

Japan’s War Brides and Their Legacies: 2018 Symposium — a symposium on the legacies and effects of the lives of women who married non-Japanese between 1945 to 1965, will be coming at USC (University of Southern California) in 2018.

I will be one of the organizers and looking forward to building this into a solid first-time program.

My hope is that healing, learning, connection, and impacts are made, linking the individual and diverse post-war Japanese women’s experiences with the lives of their children and what and how this links with other stories that create spaces for thinking for social change and social justice, and to honor the lives of the Japanese war-brides, which are often mired in controversy and various forms of invisiblizing.

Our intention is to bring Japanese war brides, their children, and the scholars, artists, filmmakers, and the general community together for a series of events for sharing, thinking, healing, and inspiration.

If you are a child of a Japanese post-WWII marriage, or are yourself, and would like to join in bringing this symposium together, please join our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1849706125309535/

MOSAIC TOURS – Korean Hapa Tours 2017 readying to Go!

 

Mixed-race Korean adoptees, which has become a major industry in Korea, has adopted out to other nations, including most to the United States, since the end of the Korean War (1953). Because of this, many families were separated, and many memories of adopted children—now adults, and adoptive parents, and birth mothers and families, have lived with the realities of their conditions, wanted or not.

The Mosaic Tours have offered healing for many of these people, to in the very least, visit the countries of their birth, many of whom do not remember Korea, since they left so young. Perhaps a fragrance, or a color, or a sensual memory lingers. And then for those adopted out at a later age, which gave chance for memory to endure, the chance to revisit and heal is a tremendous act in the our times of rapid societal and ecological change, and cultural memory being lost to dominant forces and the realities of war, occupation, and violence.  These tours offer great spaces of mixed emotions, joy and inspiration and perhaps sadness. In healing trauma, these moments are held precious.

The Mosaic Tours for this year, are about to embark. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please contact them (refer to the poster from a previous blogpost I published, which I repost below).

 

 

My Early Puzzling racial questions……..

diz-carla-mama-me
Mama, myself, and my friend Diz and his sister Carla, in front of my Dad’s new Mercedes just outside of Tachikawa Air Force Base, Japan in 1961.

When I run into and get to know mixed-race American-Japanese people in the U.S., most of the time, they mention histories of being confused about who they were, their identity. Although, let’s say out of fifty persons I knew, seven or eight of them did not tell me that they questioned their identity, about confusion, the others did. I am one who never had any questions of who I was. But I also began noticing that those who questioned their identity, were mostly born in the United States, or left Japan as a child, before they could form too many sentences. Since American-ness is a place of individuals disconnected from communities, where people must craft their intimacies and friendships and relations, it began to dawn on me that this was not a surprise.

Equally so, was that I was quite sure of who I was and never questioned who I was or what I was.

Read more…

Re-Post: Black and White GIs in Military prisons in Postwar Japan: Black Glasses Like Clark Kent

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The book by Terese Svoboda, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent (Graywolf Press 2008), tells the personal true story of Svoboda’s journey, beginning with her Uncle who becomes depressed, then takes his own life.

Her uncle served in the US Occupation of Japan, working as a Military Stockade guard.

Read more…

Map of an Onion: Kenji Liu’s exquisite cultural-political, intimate Poetry

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Kenji Chienshu Liu‘s latest book of poetry:  Map of an Onion, (published by Inlandia Institute 2016), a recent winner of the U.S. national Hillary Gravendyk Prize,  is an exquisite blend of intimacy, heart, colonial history’s effects, war, displacements and identity. Grief, loss, and rage are not locked into rational categories displaced in a western psychological malaise, but are instead interwoven and particularized in textures of belonging, memory and uncovering, through the vast emptiness of fullness-in-difference, of history and intimately personal worlds, evoked between words and from words.

I highly recommend this for anyone who loves poetry in contexts of understanding and owning the multiple histories through which our personal lives are woven; intricately with others, of the present and times past, and the future.

Vimeo Visual Poems accompanying the Book, at Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/album/3840355 

Leah Silvieus‘s review of Kenji’s book at Hyphen Magazine: http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2016/03/“i’ll-look-behind-you-you-arrive”-kenji-c-liu’s-map-onion

 

 

Home Food I: Onigiri

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When one is displaced from a deep and regular way of living, with its everydayness, their scents and sounds. And food:

Those things become important, usually, for the rest of your life.

In displacement, one sometimes needs that particular food to nourish the soul, so to speak, to revisit the sound of Mama’s voice, or the sound of birds chirping outside, or the rush of palm trees or bamboo, or the quiet.

Often, in the turbulent after-war years, these things that nourish us are the only things that help us survive and stay the only thing stable in an otherwise changing life.

So I will begin posting some things that I and some of my colleagues and friends, have noted to be important foods in the Amerasian and Black Pacific experience.

This first one is from my own experience living in postwar Japan. Onigiri おにぎり, or Omusubi おむすび. Rice Balls.

In Japan, this is a centuries-old tradition.  For trips, snacks, lunches and sometimes dinner, the diverse ways in which Onigiri is lovingly made, by Mama, or by a master chef, is timeless.

Of course I still make some for myself.  But my late Mama always made the best, in different shapes, with different things hidden inside, or beside them in a bento box.

Fried (yaki), on skewers (kushi), plain, or with nori wrap, or Hawaiian spam or other sweet meat, sometimes made with fried rice, any vegetable or fish or meat inside, or not, with sesame seeds or not……. love them all.

Controlling Amerasian Body-Minds: The American and French-Fathered Mixed-Race Children in Japan, Korea and Vietnam

amerasian-vietnam-2015-WshgtnPOST
Photo of Vietnamese Amerasians by Linda Davidson/Washington Post

 

 

For infants and children born to local mothers in Japan and Korea, fathered by U.S. military and civilian personnel during the U.S. occupation of these countries, their lives were not in their own or their mothers’ control. During U.S. occupations in Asia and the Pacific which began earlier—Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and the Solomon Islands—the same issues became prevalent, real, a struggle, continuing today.  It continues today because these places are still “occupied.” And then in the latest full-out colonial Cold War played out in Southeast Asia, the same for the children and their mothers. But let us not forget that before the U.S. arrived in Southeast Asia, the French colonized Indochina. They had state policies on how to control the issue of the Metís, as they were called by the French, which differed from the United Statians.

Read more…

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