JA Wave Maker: Humanitarian award-winning Reverend Michael Yoshii (he/him), pastor of the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, CA.
Buena Vista Church welcomed Japanese immigrants in Alameda when it was founded in 1898, and Reverend Yoshii honors the church’s roots of openness through taking action against injustice from a deep spiritual wellspring of love and faith. Reverend Yoshii has championed causes that range from immigrant rights, Muslim rights and protections, racial diversity in schools and fair housing, to mental health access in Asian communities and Palestinian rights. Last year Reverend Yoshii was a speaker for a powerful musical event with the Aswat Ensemble. They performed a series of concerts in the Bay Area with music from seven Muslim countries on the Trump travel ban. They invited Reverend Yoshii to share about the parallels to Japanese American incarceration history during World War II and to speak about why so many Japanese Americans are against the ban.
JA Wave Maker: Brit (they/them) is a mixed race fourth generation Japanese American. They began creating art at the age of thirty as a way to heal and center queer people of color in visual art representations.
Both of Brit’s grandparents were incarcerated at Minidoka. In Brit’s words: “Growing up with both the knowledge of and the mystery around my family’s experience in camps has impacted me a lot and inspired much of the art I make around generational trauma, healing and activism.” Brit’s art is profoundly resonant with the Japanese American experience and the path of healing many families and individuals have taken by breaking silence and expressing resilience.
Brit says that their art is… “A way to fold the inexplicable and overwhelming into something we can carry with us.” We are so grateful to Brit for creating art that provides a mirror for individual and communal themes of remembering and healing.
JA Wave Maker: Bold and inspiring Bay Area writer and activist, Chizu Omori (she/her) of Tsuru for Solidarity.
Omori san teaches us that activism is for all of us, no matter your age! At 89 years old, Omori san has traveled across the nation, protesting the present day incarceration camps where more than 50,000 immigrants and asylum seekers are being imprisoned in roughly 200 facilities around the country (source: article by Gabe Stutman from The Jewish News of Northern California). At the age of 12, Omori san was imprisoned in Arizona at Poston Incarceration Camp until she was 15 years old. She was involved in the redress and reparations movement and worked on the film, ‘Rabbit in the Moon,’ with her talented sister, Emiko Omori. Her experience as a child compels her to speak out and take action today.
In her words: “I am a living example of what the government has done in the past. We need to stop repeating history.” Thank you, Omori san, for being the embodiment of a living legend: A person who has devoted her life to leaving the world a better place for all.
JA Wave Maker: The deeply thoughtful change maker, Kazu Haga (he/him).
Kazu is a renowned Kingian nonviolence trainer; Kingian nonviolence is a philosophy developed out of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the organizing methodologies of the Civil Rights movement. He works with activists, youth, and people who are incarcerated, training about repairing harm and healing relationships through conflict resolution and mindfulness.
Kazu is also the founder of East Point Peace Academy, which is where you can find more information about his work: www.eastpointpeace.org. Additionally, he is a Core Member of the Ahimsa Collective, through which he facilitates restorative justice groups in prisons across the country.