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Fellows Corner: Don’t Miss These Program Highlights at JACL’s National Convention!

By July 15, 2022August 29th, 2022No Comments

By Bridget Keaveney, JACL Norman Mineta Policy Fellow

Greetings! My name is Bridget Keaveney (she/her), and I serve as the JACL’s Norman Mineta Policy Fellow. Welcome to the first edition of “Fellows Corner,” found exclusively through the Pacific Citizen!

Bridget Keaveney

Fellows Corner will serve as a means of communication between the JACL’s policy fellows and the P.C. readership. We hope to periodically bring to you all news and updates from the nation’s capital! We also hope to provide personal accounts of what it’s like to be a policy fellow at a national AAPI civil rights organization.

In this first installment of what will be a series featuring the voices and experiences of future fellows, my colleague, Alex Shinkawa, and I will be sharing with you all what to expect from JACL National for this year’s upcoming National Convention!

As a member of staff for the JACL, I am heavily involved in the execution and management of several workshops and plenaries. Of the different programs that I’m in charge of overseeing, I’m most excited for our registered convention members to experience the following:

‘Reparatory Justice: The Fight for HR 40 and Japanese Latin American Redress’

The JACL is proud to bring together a panel of speakers to discuss the fight for Black and Japanese Latin American reparations. Community leaders from both movements will share how they are working to articulate the needs of the communities they serve and the efforts that are being made to develop and pass appropriate forms of reparation and apology for Black and Japanese Latin Americans.

The intersections between the two communities will be explored while honoring their distinct differences. The need for reparations and healing for both communities is long overdue, and we hope you join us to consider how we, as an organization, can best support those courses of action.

Activists to be featured include:

Kenniss Henry (HR 40): Member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and appointed National Legislative Commission co-chair for the HR 40 working group

Traci Kato-Kiriyama (HR 40): A multidisciplinary artist, writer/author, actor, arts educator, community organizer and co-chair of the National Nikkei Reparations Committee

Grace Shimizu (JLA): Director of Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, director of Campaign for Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans! and project manager of the updated traveling exhibit “The Enemy Alien Files: Hidden Stories of World War II”

Lisa Doi (Moderator): Community Organizer for Tsuru for Solidarity and a Ph.D. student in American Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. She also serves as president of JACL Chicago, a member of the Midwest Buddhist Temple and a founding member of the National Nikkei Reparations Committee

I have learned in my time as a policy fellow that delaying justice only further harms the communities impacted. Reparations for Black Americans and Japanese Latins Americans are long overdue, and it is incumbent upon those of us who are in positions to advocate and mobilize to do so.

Phero Hill

The JACL is pleased to announce that rapper Phero Hill will be featured at this year’s Sayonara Gala.

Phero Hill

“At first glance, Phero Hill may seem like your average, aspiring rapper. But through his intricate rhyme schemes and clever wordplay, the Los Angeles-based artist brings more than just bars and beats. He delivers thought-provoking lyrics inspired by his Japanese American identity and the struggles of understanding one’s purpose in life.

“Often described as an introverted, soft-spoken individual, Phero Hill found his voice through hip-hop using it to express the trials and tribulations of his life. This raw emotion can be felt through his infectious cadence and organic sound that is always cleverly crafted in each project. By dedicating himself to his craft, he is finally beginning to grow into form as the artist he was meant to be.”

As a massive fan, I couldn’t be more excited to see Phero Hill perform live! Hill’s creative efforts have provided me and countless others an outlet to feel heard and validated. Through his music, Hill is able to encourage thoughtful dialogue surrounding mental health and identity.

For questions, please email policy@jacl.org. We hope to see you all there, whether that be in-person or online!

By Alex Shinkawa, JACL Daniel K. Inouye Fellow

Hello everyone, my name is Alex Shinkawa, and I am the Daniel K. Inouye Fellow at JACL National’s office, and on behalf of the whole team planning this year’s National Convention, I am extremely excited to see you all in Las Vegas next month!

Alex Shinkawa

After two years of Covid and online events, we are finally returning to an in-person convention at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino that will be held from Aug. 3-6. The theme for this year is “Strengthening Our Community Through Action.” The current National Board will meet prior to the convention starting on Aug. 3, and the newly elected board will meet after the convention on the morning of Aug. 7.

This year’s National Council Session will be held in person on Aug. 4; all delegates or proxies must be present. However, the session will be live-streamed so that it can be viewed remotely, but only in-person speakers will be recognized.

Along with our National Council Sessions, this year’s convention will have a variety of workshops and plenaries aimed at invigorating and educating JACL members, and these events will be open to all convention attendees.

Workshops will cover topics ranging from sustainable career cultivation, education advocacy, combating misinformation about Critical Race Theory and even a live episode of YPC’s “Speaking Nikkei Podcast.”

Luncheons and banquets will include awards ceremonies that highlight exceptional chapters and members of the community that have made an impact, and we are excited to present awards in person. These events will also include entertainment such as taiko performances and a live demonstration of karate and koto music from U.S. Olympian Sakura Kokumai, who most recently participated in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

Of course, between the workshops, demonstrations, meetings and plenaries, there will be time to explore the many sites and attractions that the dynamic city of Las Vegas has to offer. Take the opportunity to catch shows at the many casinos, shop, and dine at world-renowned restaurants. It is also just a short distance to landmarks such as the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon.

Our team hopes that this National Convention will help our community forge a path forward as we emerge from the pandemic. We hope to see you there so be sure to register before the July 27 deadline!

Bridget Keaveney and Alex Shinkawa are based in JACL’s Washington, D.C., office.