It’s Been a Week; I’m Still Feeling Funky

Post Election, Nikolaos Gyftakis

Artwork: Nikolaos Gyftakis, Self Portrait,

Japanese Historical Plaza at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Civil Right, Bill of RightsIt’s been over a week and I’m still not feeling “Centered”; I am still in disbelief at the unexpected Election Results last week. Yeah, disbelief and numb and, in premature mourning for what could happen AGAIN in the United States of America… am I going to have to witness my Father’s Past?
I am feeling NUMB. So numb that I purchased a large pecan pie yesterday and threatened to eat the whole thing along with 3 cheeseburgers from Carl Jr. to make me feel better because I just can’t seem to shake this strange feeling inside (not love), so I went for food-producing endorphins. Indeed, a satisfying “fix” but not long lasting.

I Am A Marked Man, It’s Only a Matter of Time — “…The broad historical causes which shaped these decisions (to incarcerate Japanese Americans) were race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.“


This Morning, I just Knew It Was Going to Happen

racism, equality, civil rightsBut, Wait; I woke up to a Facebook post this morning about Carl Higbie, co-chair, and spokesperson for the Great America PAC for Donald Trump, mouthing-off the possibility of creating a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries by saying “…We did it in World War II with Japanese. Call it what you will…maybe wrong, but…”
I’ve been fighting it (keeping my lips tight), but this morning’s reading confirms it, I’m a “Marked-Man”, a person of color, and a person who can’t hide from those who HATE. What am I to do? Who will help me? Who will stand with me, and by my side?
The list of questions grows longer… more uncertainty…

Well, Higbie’s attempt to cite Japanese American incarceration as a precedent for this type of action is WRONG and Frightening. It’s a statement intended to lay a marker for a misguided belief that ignores the true lessons of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Captured in the words of a federal commission that stated, “…The broad historical causes which shaped these decisions (to incarcerate Japanese Americans) were race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.1

When and where I see or hear of anybody whether White, Brown, Woman, Man, Asian… Muslim, ANYONE being singled out and unfairly targeted, or where voices of leadership should be speaking out against unfair treatment but remain Silent, — I am saddened and outraged.
“We must not misinterpret our history by believing the Japanese American incarceration was justified as a precedent for similar actions today, and further, we must not use the wrongdoing perpetrated against Japanese Americans during World War II as a justification for the mistreatment of a Muslim Americans and our Arab American Communities.” 2


Today, I also honor those who worked and volunteered tirelessly to create the Japanese Historical Plaza at Tom McCall Waterfront Park as it is a reminder to ALL of Us of our Country’s strong foundation in its Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Gila, Granada, Heart Mountain, Jerome, Manzanar, Minidoka, Poston, Rohwer, Topaz, Tule LakeUsing thirteen engraved stones of basalt and granite, the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland, Oregon tells an important story of the Japanese in Oregon. The story of the hardships suffered by Japanese immigrants and the indignities imposed by the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. The plaza shows how the rights of Japanese Americans on the West Coast were denied, and honors the bravery of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces while their families were in the prison camps.
Right: a large engraved granite stone greets you at the entrance to the Japanese Historical Plaza that commemorates the 10 largest Prison Camps for people of Japanese Ancestry during World War II, many who (including my Father) were American Citizens. Thank you, Bob Murase and Bill Naito of your Vision for Portland, Oregon.
Justice W. Michael Gillette, Japanese American Historical Plaza,

…without a memorial, without a physical gesture of remembrance, we can, we may, we will forget. Already the Japanese internment experience is hardly noted in civics textbooks and in history textbooks. It is barely a footnote in college history courses, and even worse it is not mentioned at all in most law schools. Yet this story, the story that is represented by the memorial we dedicate today, must not, and cannot, be lost.

Honorable Justice W. Michael Gillette speaking at the dedication ceremony August 3, 1990, of the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland, Oregon

Only 10-Days to Prepare
They were only allowed to pack what they could carry: (2:20)
“…10 days to undo a life, settle affairs and prepare for an uncertain future.”

9 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    So feeling this brother! I flash back to our play about Min Yasui and think, this could be happening again. It reminds me that now, more than ever, we have to stay vigilant and ready to address and condemn any action which seeks to take away freedom from any of us. We cannot take freedom for granted. As those before us did, we may have to fight for it!

    • Scott Sakamoto
      Scott Sakamoto says:

      Thank you for your meaningful comments Joe.
      As you and several of us who have served in Civic Leadership Roles in Portland, Oregon know; today more than ever, it is vital to our Community’s security that we strengthen our ability to track and apprehend those who would harm us. It is equally vital that we provide safeguards against having innocent people targeted, spied upon, and harassed by law enforcement and our government.
      We realize these are modern times and with it a new era of vigilance toward the protection of our great country’s heritage, and history of protecting our rights and liberties as Americans citizens are even more paramount today.
      Thank you, Joe, for joining me

      • Z. Hassan
        Z. Hassan says:

        Thanks for writing this and thanks for sharing it! I recall after 9/11 coming together with you and others from the JACL to talk about how the country was changing then in a frightening way and what we could do together to stem that tide. And here we are again and here you are again speaking out against racism and reaching out to communities at risk in solidarity. It is very appreciated and needed.

        • Scott Sakamoto
          Scott Sakamoto says:

          Thank you, Ms. Hassan, It is good to hear from you and congratulations on your journey to the Other Coast. We miss you in Portland.
          As a Citizen of this Country, it has been my Honor, Privilege, and Duty to be able to serve and protect our Rights as Citizens in the United States of America and to stand up for those who are less fortunate and / or marginalized.
          I remember the day I made the “Vow” to my Father immediately following the inaugural Oregon Day of Remembrance at the former site of the Pacific International Livestock Exposition Center (February 17, 1979) – I felt similar then, as I do today.
          Am I? –- Are WE Doing Enough?
          In Solidarity — #NeverAgain

  2. Chip Larouche
    Chip Larouche says:

    Thanks Scott!
    To quote a citizen from the world’s first democracy, “Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ― Aristophanes
    For those of us who cherish our constitution, we certainly must strive to educate the ignorant at every opportunity, but that will never eliminate the challenge of fighting stupidity whenever it’s encountered. Youth and sobriety will generally take care of itself.
    Chip Larouche

    • Scott Sakamoto
      Scott Sakamoto says:

      Thank you Chip.
      I had a conversation with another buddy of mine yesterday…
      “The minds of most humans are messy and unpredictable.”
      I think we’ll have to agree with that
      See you this Sunday

  3. Soren
    Soren says:

    Thank you for spreading the news of the horrors being proposed by Trump through Higbie. As Joe said, we have to remain vigilant. Seattle is pushing to remain a sanctuary city no matter what is proposed by the incoming President. I hope that Portland does the same, and will write the mayor to that effect this week.


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