UCLA PISA's Third Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night.
UCLA Pacific Islands’ Student Association (PISA) hosted its 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night at Ackerman Grand Ballroom on Saturday, March 11, 2017. The evening consisted of an authentic Samoan dinner catered by Kumar’s Island Market/Boutique Samoa Market in Anaheim, Calif. and traditional cultural dances and music of the islands of Polynesia.
Cultures featured during the night included those of Maori, Hawai’i, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, and Tonga.
Students of UCLA PISA and Hui O ‘Imiloa – Hawai’i Club at UCLA performed, along with members from other organizations outside UCLA. Some of these other organizations include Tupulaga (Carson, Calif.), CSUF South Pacific Islander Student Association, and UCR Pacific Islander Student Alliance.
Informational poster boards on the cultures of the islands represented during the show were also displayed.
The 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night was hosted by Keali’i Troy Kukahiko, a graduate student in UCLA’s Department of Education. Kukahiko expressed his appreciation of Polynesian Arts & Culture Night as it reflected the growing and thriving community of Pacific Islander (PI) students at UCLA. In contrast, Kukahiko described his undergraduate experience at UCLA as isolating, being one of eight PI undergraduate students.
Although the number of PI undergraduate students at UCLA has grown, the community continues to be underrepresented and underreported. The program for the 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night included a description of UCLA PISA stating that Pacific Islanders make up less than one percent of the student population at UCLA.
During the evening, Kukahiko remarked that the students in UCLA PISA performing during the night were “not just performers but activists.” In actively serving and building its communities, UCLA PISA outreaches to PI students in Los Angeles schools, helps PI students come to UCLA, provides a support system for the PI community at UCLA, and more.
While Kukahiko closed the show saying that the event “wouldn’t be a culture night without [the audience’s] love and presence,” the 3rd Annual Polynesian Arts & Culture Night would not have been possible without UCLA PISA’s dedication to raising awareness about Polynesian culture through sharing the beauty and resiliency of its communities.
Faith and Chai was hosted Monday, Feb. 21, 2017 , by Jasmine Patel, and Vincent Loyal, both second-year biology students from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship as a space for South Asian students of different faiths to discuss what is similar and what is different about their faiths.
Patel said that “[Faith and Chai] was created by South Asian InterVarsity as a way to reach more South Asian students on campuses across the nation” while Loyal wanted to create a space for dialogue, discussion about faith, and a community for South Asians.
About twenty students, ranging from first to fourth-years, of different South Asian backgrounds came for the first meeting, greeted by the friendly faces of Vincent and Jasmine. They explained their aims for the space to be where one learnt from another no matter the faith background. In addition, they hoped to create a network of new friendships and for participants to consider how faith and spirituality play a role in their lives this quarter and beyond.
An important community agreement Vincent and Jasmine addressed before breaking into groups was to enforce, wherever possible, the use of ‘I’ statements. They added that people are individuals, not spokespeople for their own faiths. It adds a lot of pressure on individuals to speak for their communities, rather than for themselves and their experiences. Other community agreements included having respect for others even if there was disagreement about a certain perspective, and an equal level of participation among all people in the discussion.
Before having groups of students engage in dialogue, there was a team building exercise that involved participants assembling structures from old newspapers, paper clips and rubber bands in a friendly yet competitive manner. “While it seemed silly first,” said Lamia Abbas, a second-year psychobiology student, “it eased conversations about faith later on.” The winners of this short exercise were treated to the samosas (deep fried pastry snack prevalent in many South Asian countries) and chai first.
The dialogues began about an hour after the event began, allowing an hour’s time for the significant conversations to ensue. The questions suggested ranged from “What is the central message or chief goal of your faith” to “In your opinion, what is humankind’s reason for being?” In response to the former question, Abbas said, “[my] relationship with organized religion is complicated.” Similar sentiments were echoed by students Vineet Mathew, a second-year computational and systems biology student and a Shrita Pendekanti, a second-year neuroscience student.
There were many great takeaways from the event. One of the last questions by Loyal, “what have you come to appreciate of different faiths in the South Asian community?” made it clear how positively the dialogue impacted the attendees. Matthew appreciated “realizing how similar we all are” while Pendekanti lauded how during the dialogue, others “articulated thoughts [she] had but wasn’t able to express.” Marsha Noeline, a second-year mechanical engineering student concluded that “in the coming years, these spaces are going to be really necessary.”
Although the event was supposed to end at 9 p.m., conversations lasted for far longer than that. Both student organizers received a lot of positive feedback, and Patel said they “want to continue to create spaces where South Asian students can come together to share about their own faiths and learn about others. We are also very open to collaborating with other South Asian groups on campus to make these events more widely known and more welcoming to the South Asian community.”
On Friday, March 3, Nikkei Student Union (NSU) hosted their 31st Annual Cultural Night: “Chirashi” in Royce Hall, a reminder of the persecution and discrimination Japanese Americans faced during World War II, with the implementation of Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942.
This executive order forced more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent living in the United States, mostly American citizens, into incarceration among ten concentration camps, a process that not only violated personal liberties but also took away ownership of property and tore apart families.
To acknowledge the history of this experience, NSU uses cultural night as a night where, according to their program, “we commemorate the memory of those incarcerated, showcase our talents to the UCLA community, and celebrate the richness of our beloved Japanese American community.”
This year’s title, “Chirashi,” meaning “scattered,” is a Japanese dish usually served with a mix of different kinds of fish and vegetables that are laid together on top of rice.
Chirashi “was a metaphor for the multiple storylines within the drama that conveys the larger theme of acknowledging the variety of motivations that bring people into our community,” said Emiko Kranz, the current NSU president.
We are first introduced to Lynn (portrayed by Stacy Kadomasu), who is somewhat a hot-headed girl. She is followed by Samson (Justin Shinn), who invites her to his staggering family restaurant, Chirashi.
Lynn often worked begrudgingly in the restaurant because she owes Samson a debt, but, through Samson’s cousin June (Emiko Kranz), who is helping with the family restaurant, Lynn learns that Chirashi had been a safe haven for Japanese Americans during WWII — a place where they could be treated like equal human beings.
However, Samson, despite being the current restaurant owner, ran off with the restaurant’s funds, including June and Lynn’s payments. The story later reveals that Samson ran away because his fate was tied to the restaurant, which burdened him.
As soon as Samson ran off with the money, a contracting firm appears, announcing that the restaurant will be soon evicted.
Meanwhile, Tetsuya (played by Joey Yasuhiro) is introduced as one of the contracting firm representatives, who had a similar experience to June and Lynn. In order to protect his family’s flower shop and his sick mom, Tetsuya joined his uncle’s contracting firm, where he has to evict staggering yet historical and community-centered shops often.
In the end, Samson returned the money to June and Lynn, who then worked with Grace (Kendra Motoyasu), an architect and Tetsuya’s friend, and Noburu (Andre Leite) who quit working at the contracting firm, to restore Chirashi as a place for the community.
Throughout the show, NSU Modern, Odori, and Kyodo Taiko’s performances demonstrated the different aspects of Japanese and Japanese American cultures and reinforced the culture night’s themes by conveying the emotions of the characters.
For example, “Tanuki Senbonzakura” by NSU Odori, “Boot Camp” by NSU Modern, and all of Kyodo Taiko’s compositions were military themed.
According to Kranz, “While the drama wasn’t openly aggressive, there was a certain amount of frustration and anger represented by the struggles each character faced whether the battle was internal or external.”
Through “Chirashi,” NSU hoped to communicate the importance of perspective, historical consciousness, and resistance to injustice through their experiences as Japanese Americans.
Today, fear-mongering against the Muslim communities in the United States is perpetuated by the signing of Executive Order 13769 on Jan. 27, following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.
It should be no surprise then that the issuance of Executive Order 13769 has spurred many Japanese American communities to stand with the Muslim communities due to similarities of propaganda used to target these groups.
It is through these conditions that the Nikkei Student Union’s Cultural Night serves as a powerful platform to share knowledge about their history to the surrounding UCLA community during these times.
Regarding the story behind the culture night, Kranz stated that “following the recent events that have affected the political climate such as Trump’s inauguration and the executive orders limiting immigration, we decided to bring in the focus on historical consciousness through the drama.”
Kranz, a graduating senior and a fundamental pillar in past NSU cultural nights, reflects on “Chirashi” with her hopes for future productions: “The Nikkei community has endured much struggle with the incarceration experience and has fought its way back up in society and I think [the cultural night] is the vehicle by which we can extend our voice to a wider audience and remind everyone how Japanese Americans have made their place here and feel responsible to empower other groups.”
Poster from UCLA Library Special Collections featuring an image of Executive Oder 9066 which forcibly removed and relocated West Coast Japanese Americans.
BY LORA LIU AND MAY ZENG
Photos by May Zeng
Trigger Warning: This article contains the use of a racial slur as quoted in some of the exhibit pieces and brief mention of violence.
On January 18, an exhibit titled “American Concentration Camps” went up in the Powell Library Rotunda at UCLA. The exhibit consists of collections chosen from the UCLA Library Special Collections.
It is significant that the exhibit refers to the camps as “concentration camps” instead of the commonly used term “internment camps” because “internment” describes the imprisonment of foreign nationals, yet almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were natural born US citizens.
UCLA Library Special Collections states that their purpose is to preserve cultural heritage through primary sources that “tell the story of our collective past.” Rather than relegating Japanese internment to a few pages in a textbook, the “American Concentration Camps” exhibit is a display of what Japanese internment, and the attitudes and beliefs driving it, really looked like.
Doug Johnson: After the election, a meeting was convened in our department to talk about what we as librarians and archivists could do to respond to the incoming administration, and a lot of ideas were floated at that meeting, and my personal idea was to have this exhibit because I knew we had tons of material on Japanese internment, and I had heard surrogates of the administration talking about that as instructed precedent for the Muslim registry and I found that very alarming and wanted to push back against that in whatever way we could.
May Zeng: What do you hope for people to get out of this exhibit?
DJ: Well, knowledge, first of all, because the tactic of the current administration to try to dismiss facts and elide history and twist historical record to their own end and I think we have to assert the truth about what really happened. And I hope with that knowledge, will come compassion and energy and a desire to both resist any injustices that may be visited on vulnerable populations.
MZ: Have you worked much with this subject matter before?
DJ: No, I haven’t. I’m Japanese American, and I hadn’t heard about this at all until I was a kid during the Reagan years when the redress movement was going on; that was the first I heard of it. My family was never affected by this because my mother was from Japan, but it was startling to me to learn about that in the 80s. And though I had some passing familiarity with it over the years, I never really studied the topic until taking on this project.
MZ: What did you learn from working on this exhibit?
DJ: I’ve learned that people are really resilient. And when I started this project, I had the idea that I didn’t want pictures of people smiling because at the time, there was a lot of propaganda by the US government to take pictures of people smiling in the camps, and talk about how nice their homes were and how good the food was and all that kind of stuff. I did not want to do that. I kinda wanted it to show it as a really oppressive, horrible place to live, which it was. I truly believe it was, but I also realized that by not including some of the positive aspects of camp life, I was doing a disservice to the people who lived there because they were incarcerated for an indefinite period of time and they had to live, they had to find some way to live in that condition, some way to make themselves happy, and go to school, and fall in love and play sports and sing songs and do art. So we included one of the cases revealing that aspect of camp life. [It’s] my favorite case now, even though it’s the case I initially didn’t really want to have.
We all learned a lot. The interesting thing about working with primary materials like this, you see the small little details, but you don’t really get a sense of the big picture of things…It’s different from your normal historians’ view, which tries to give you a big picture. It’s a little more hands on and personal, and maybe myopic in some ways, but still very rich.
MZ: Do you think that might be a problem, for a lack of a better word, for someone who doesn’t know anything and walks in and doesn’t get the big picture?
DJ: Yeah, I do think that could be a problem. There aren’t a lot of dates and names and numbers, and the things that are commonly associated with a history class. You get these little snapshots and slices of life, but I hope they’re compelling, and if you want to learn the whole story, there are ample resources in our libraries to learn about it. So if your imagination is seized by one particular item or artifact in the exhibit, that could lead you on to discover the greater context, the greater story of the whole episode.
In one of the displayed documents, labeled “Basic Family Face Sheet,” basic information of six members of a Japanese American family’ was listed, including their countries of birth. Of the six, only one had been born in Japan, yet due to their ancestry the whole family was put in a camp.
The Los Angeles Evening Herald Express shared LA mayor Fletcher Bowron’s belief that “All Japanese, native or foreign born, are aliens under a proper construction of the Constitution.” According to Bowron, “the Japs are not a minority group, such as Germans and Italians, but are a completely foreign element.” Behind Executive Order 9066 was the idea that, “if they [the Japanese] never were citizens, nothing could be taken from them.” By denying Japanese Americans their citizenship and “othering” them as foreign aliens, Bowron and others who shared his beliefs were able to justify stripping them of their businesses, their homes, their land, and their basic human rights.
The Los Angeles Times’s “Jap Questionnaire” featured in the display reveals that when asked, “Would you permanently exclude all Japanese from the Pacific Coast States, including California?,” 9,833 Southern Californians answered yes while only 999 answered no.
For another question, “Do you favor a constitutional amendment after the war for the deportation of all Japanese from this country, and forbidding further immigration?,” 10,598 answered yes while 732 answered no. It was not enough that the Japanese were stripped of their land and were forced into concentration camps where they had to complete loyalty oaths. Many still wanted them physically removed from the country.
Japanese Americans were not safe either. The follow-up question, “Would you [accept] American-born Japanese if such a plan as the above were adopted?” saw 1,883 say yes while the answer was still no for 9,018.
A white man and woman smile behind a glass storefront. Written on the glass in all caps, “Choke the Japs with your girdles. We want rubber.”
From caption card: “Ralph Lawrence Carr was the governor of Colorado. A conservative Republican, he advocated that the Japanese in America be treated with respect and compassion. This letter, written by a child, reveals the political backlash Carr faced. He left office in 1943.”
The letter reads:
And I use sir very loosly [sic] because you don’t even deserve to be called to be called [sic] a man.
If you love the Japs so much why don’t you go to Japan and get in good with the dishonorable Emporor [sic]. Because you know he deserves people just like you. People that are yellow-bellied and disloyal that theyd [sic] say anything for money. By the way how much did you get for saying that most of the Marines liked the Japs. I’m writing you this because I think a person like you should be put up against a wall and shot, like your friends the Japs do to the Marines that you say love the Japs so much.
I admit there are people that call themselves Americans like you who are yellow-bellied traitors. Well I think I had better stop before I say something I’ll be sorry for, you traitor.
Sincerely, a patriotc [sic] American who is twelve years old but still hate people like you”
Letter from a young girl (age unknown) interned in Arkansas writing back to her teacher in California.A young girl tries to keep a brave face and be optimistic despite how bad things are at the camp as she writes to her teacher back home. The letter reads:
“Dear Miss Tailyor
Are you all right? I am alright. I am in arkansa [sic] now. It is good here but it is hot here. It rains here hard little bet [sic]. It rain on Sunday October 4th. It is a swampy land. We could go fishing in the Mississippi river. In the mountain there are snake. They DO NOT let people go in the mountain when it is summer. There are [sicknesses spreading] out now at ark. by ice water now. I did not get sick yet but I will get sick pretty soon.
There are lot of trees here. They have a porch here. [Arkansas] is better than Santa Anita [Racetrack] at lese [sic]. Is it hot at California? There is a canteen here. But there isn’t so much thing at the canteen. At lese [sic] we brought some from Santa Anita. When we take a bath it is cold water and we freeze to defe [sic]. There are not so much mosquitoes here than Santa Anita. The train ride was good. We pass [Arizona], Texas, New Mexico, and came to Rohwer Arkansa [sic].
Johnson found many examples of people being shot by guards and sometimes killed as a result of those gunshots. For example, Okamoto was “gathering wood just outside the gates and a guard shot him. There are multiple eyewitness accounts confirming that. If you follow the story, you find that the guard never suffered any kind of disciplinary action, much less criminal prosecution for what he did.”
Similarly, two teenagers, 17 and 18 years old, were killed at a riot at Manzanar around the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor. No guard or soldier faced any disciplinary action for the killings.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, but it is clear that the same type of justification behind Japanese internment is present almost a century later.
The “American Concentration Camps” Exhibit is on display in the Powell Rotunda until March 24.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Ralutin and the UCLA Kendo Club
BY LUCY MA and VIVIAN GIANG.
UCLA Kendo Club is holding its 10th Annual Yuhihai Intercollegiate Kendo Tournament this Sunday on Feb. 26. The tournament will be in the gym in the Student Activities Center and start at 9 a.m.
Written as “剣道” or “the way of the sword,”kendo can formally be described as a way “to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the katana,” says Jenny Huang, a fourth-year business economics major and vice president of the UCLA Kendo Club.
In simpler terms, explains Jenny Chim, a fourth-year psychology major and the club’s president, kendo is somewhat like “Japanese fencing.”
Both Huang and Chim joined the UCLA Kendo Club as first-years, without any prior kendo experience. Now as the club’s vice president and president, respectively, both women are eager to help pass on the “kendo college experience.” Part of that experience is the annual tournament, Yuhihai, which they are the primary organizers for.
This year’s Yuhihai Tournament is particularly special because it marks the tournament’s 10th anniversary.
“I think we’re hoping to really showcase how much Yuhihai has grown throughout the past 10 years,” said Huang.
This year’s Yuhihai Tournament will include 11 schools from across the U.S. and around 160 participants. The tournament will begin with opening ceremonies that include guest sensei, or instructors, from Japan – Shinotsuka Masuo and Tadaomi Hojo – both of whom are members of Japanese law enforcement.
Shinotsuka sensei was also the one who named the annual tournament “Yuhihai” — which means “a great leap full of bravery and ambition” — with hopes that the club and the tournament will help students aspire to bravely move forward, face adversity head on, and to always keep a sense of determination.
After the opening ceremonies, the tournament’s competitions will begin with individual rounds in the morning, while the team divisions will take place in the afternoon. Chim and Huang also gave high regards to the club’s women’s team, which has taken gold in the individual division for two years in a row.
For the team divisions, the club took third place last year and second place the year before in the Yuhihai tournament. They also placed second for two years consecutively in Harvard’s Shoryuhai Tournament.
“We’re aiming for first this year,” said both Chim and Huang.
The Yuhihai Tournament is not only a place for kenshi, a kendo practitioner, to test their skills. It is also a symbol of “kendo presence in California,” explained Huang.
Yuhihai was originally founded to fill in a gap for kenshi on the West Coast.
“Ten years ago, people only talked about Harvard’s tournament,” Chim said. However, there was already a sizable kendo presence in California, so “why not do it here?”
With participants that include opponents all the way from Boston University, the tournament’s existence highlights the ongoing expansion of the kendo community from the West to East Coast.
While there is currently no official inter-collegiate competition in the U.S., Huang hopes that the Tournament’s continuing success will “raise kendo to a more prominent level.”
On a more personal level, Chim and Huang are looking forward to the culmination of their work as Yuhihai’s primary organizers. Huang explained that she cherishes learning “exactly how much effort it takes to make the tournament enjoyable for everyone.”
Chim also feels that sense of responsibility, coupled with the unity that comes from meeting and connecting with different generations of the Kendo Club’s members and alumni.
From the time they spent with others and the experiences they shared with other members at the club and tournaments, Chim and Huang feel that it is definite that they will return as alumnas to continue the long-held, generational tradition that lies within kendo and Yuhihai.
For more information on UCLA Kendo Club, please check out: UCLA Kendo.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society.
Compared to other ethnic groups, cigarette smoking is at the lowest rate for AAPIs, yet over 75 percent of lung cancer deaths can be linked to cigarette smoking, per a study.
Smoking prevalence varies among AAPI subgroups. Based on a 2016 CDC mortality report, 20 percent of Korean Americans surveyed smoked. Following were Vietnamese Americans at 16.3 percent, and, the lowest, Chinese Americans at 7.6 percent.
Similar results were shown in 2006 data collected by the National Latino and Asian American Study: About 1 in 3 Korean and Vietnamese Americans smoke.
The percentages indicate about less than a quarter of each subgroup is affected by smoking, but many behind-the-scenes activities suggest these numbers are much lower than reported.
Kevin Trieu, a program coordinator at Asian Health Coalition based in Chicago, expressed fear in a Medill News Service report, saying Asian Americans are not well represented in these cancer or smoking studies.
Most of the smoking rate surveys are in English, and many AAPIs, especially those of older generations, only speak their non-English native language, said Trieu. Easily, this leads to inaccurate data, which, although unintentional, does not take into account the smoking issues of certain generations.
Elaine Ishihara, director of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition Against Tobacco, expressed similar concerns in a Northwest Asian Weekly report.
“Many studies use phone surveys as a measuring tool, and they are only done in English and Spanish. They don’t desegregate that data — not [showing a different rate for] youths, not reflective of different communities. It’s very misleading,” said Ishihara.
Ishihara added, “Community members said that messages weren’t reaching them. We need resources that are [in their] language and culturally appropriate. If it’s not in [their] languages, people are not going to notice it.”
Only mitigating language barriers will not significantly decrease smoking rates, so many organizations, like Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy & Leadership, take multifaceted approaches to prevent smoking.
“[APPEAL] believe[s] that there are these core elements that are important in being able to get a community’s norms changed, to become tobacco-free. … That means raising awareness of the harms of tobacco but also building the expertise at a local community, to become better advocates,” said Rod Lew, executive director of APPEAL, in an interview. “We also believe that there needs to be investment into communities, to eventually engage … in tobacco policy change.”
Tobacco tax is one national policy that effectively curbs smoking rates and generates more funds to further investigate prevention methods, mentioned Lew. And, historically, increases in the prices of cigarettes have led to decreases in smoking rates, according to a study. Every 10 percent price increase was correlated with a 2.5 to 5 percent overall decrease in smoking.
But, the issue of smoking cannot be resolved with just one policy or community member. Each community or individual reacts differently to various methods; smoking prevention and quitting need to be relevant for each smoker.
In one study, foreign-born Asian men were found to smoke more than Asian men born in the States, but, conversely, Asian women born in the States were found to smoke more than foreign-born Asian women.
“How we view race and ethnicity – because it’s really more than that. Just because we find race and ethnic differences doesn’t mean it’s due to that. It’s likely due to other factors,” said Elizabeth D`Amico, an adjunct professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Similarly, on the California Watch, data on smoking disparities revealed that nearly all Vietnamese men surveyed said smoking would harm their health, but less than 80 percent of Koreans surveyed believed the statement. And, the longer an Asian immigrant stayed in America, the less likely they were to smoke.
“Each [community] has a different smoking rate … so it’s really important that each region has data to be able to prioritize how to address tobacco disparity. … [It] is important to be able to have a way of looking at how best to provide cessation and treatment for nicotine and cigarette addiction,” said Lew.
“The key is to really create [smoking cessation] programming that’s inclusive and that resonates, that’s developmentally appropriate. I think that’s a big key from times when people create programs [and] they don’t think about,” said D`Amico.
For more information on smoking and smoking prevention, check out these organizations: APICAT, APPEAL, CDC