Last week, America lost a civil rights legend in Yuri Kochiyama. Kochiyama’s work inspired a generation of young activists — including many Asian American women like myself — towards social justice work.
Today, 18MillionRising is launching a petition that will be sent along with a formal written proposal to the US Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, asking that Yuri Kochiyama be commemorated in an official stamp. This form of memorial seems meaningful; Yuri Kochiyama strongly believed in the power of mail as a form of political outreach, and reportedly only wanted to receive stamps on holidays so she could continue to send flyers for her many political and social justice causes.
Act Now! If you agree that Kochiyama belongs on a commemorative stamp, please sign 18MillionRising’s petition requesting that the US Postal Service issue a commemorative Yuri Kochiyama stamp and share the petition with your friends!
Yesterday, the White House’s Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) posted this post on the White House’s official blog. The post was written by Kiran Ahuj, WHIAAPI’s Executive Director.
Over the weekend, I posted about the death of beloved civil rights activist and beloved icon Yuri Kochiyama. Here is the Kochiyama Family’s statement, issued in conjunction with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center:
The Kochiyama family has also set up a Facebook page called “Remembering Yuri Kochiyama“. Please like it to stay abreast of information from the family regarding a public memorial for Yuri Kochiyama.
I’m hearing reports through my networks that Yuri Kochiyama, the incredible civil rights hero whose life of dedicated work to social justice inspired a generation of young activists including myself, passed away last night at the age of 93. The reports are still unconfirmed nationally, although sources close to Kochiyama’s family are confirming her passing.
Yuri Kochiyama was a hero and an icon to me.
Yuri Kochiyama was a survivor of a Japanese American internment camp in rural Arkansas, where she encountered the heinous racism of the Jim Crow South. In an interview with Kochiyama published in Fred Ho‘s Legacy to Liberation, Revolutionary Worker writes that it was the parallels between her own experiences as a Japanese American with the mistreatment of Black People under Jim Crow that first propelled Kochiyama towards social justice work. Throughout her life, Yuri Kochiyama worked as a member of both the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Liberation Movement, but she also devoted her energies to causes like freeing political prisoners domestically and around the world. She is often cited for her work with the Black liberation movement, through which she had a brief friendship with Malcolm X. She was at Malcolm X’s side when he died of a gunshot wound on February 21, 1965.
But, for me, what makes Yuri Kochiyama a legend and an inspiration was the philosophy that fueled her life of dedication to social justice efforts.
In the wake of the #AsianPrivilege response hash-tag to #NotYourAsianSidekick and #BlackPowerYellowPeril, it appears as if (among other misguided ideas) there is a prevailing notion out there that, in contrast to other minorities, Asian Americans “lack a history of resistance” (or that we think we do), and that this invisibility and dearth of civil rights history actually confers upon the Asian American community a form of racial privilege.
Putting aside the second half of that assertion regarding privilege for a minute, there’s one other major problem: any argument that relies upon the assumption that Asian Americans lack a history of resistance is patently ahistorical.
Like really, really, really wrong. Like insultingly wrong.
After the jump, here are 10 examples of Asian American’s history of oppression and political resistance.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!